SMDP Online

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SMDP Online

Photo courtesy of: Mary Morgan

On-the-Job Analytical Skills for Member-Owned Microfinance Practitioners

February 12 to May 11, 2018
Facilitator Nanci Lee with Guest Expert Panelists

Registration is now open!
Regular Application Deadline: February 2, 2018 
Mastercard Foundation Scholarship Deadline: January 26, 2018

Course Description

According to the 70-20-10 rule, 70 percent of a manager's learning and development comes from "on-the-job" assignments that "stretch them," 20 percent from mentoring and 10 percent from the classroom. Systems thinking and social innovation depend on sound analysis of the situation, on the spot problem solving and creativity and the ability to monitor well and experiment.

This course is uniquely designed for savings groups, producer groups and cooperative practitioners along this ratio of activities taking advantage of what e-learning uniquely offers. The heart of the course is a work-based action research assignment with a focus on key analytical skills and critical reflection around organizational issues. Participants have the time and space to practice and adapt in the field real time while learning about global best practices and receiving peer coaching and facilitator mentoring. 

Savings Groups (SGs), SACCOs and other member-owned models have demonstrated strong ability to support unserved and marginalized populations in saving, borrowing, informal insurance and other social supports. However, unpredictable risks, shocks and conflict are ever-present and these populations are even more exposed to risks. This course addresses the dire need to build capacity of local practitioners who can think and problem-solve "on their feet." The course uses a blend of systems thinking, gendered contextual analysis and current evidence and practice in member-owned microfinance. Key modules include: member-owned microfinance; scaling and linking strategies; good governance and social performance; financial ratios for groups; innovations such e-banking and reaching youth, remote and other financially excluded groups.

To enhance peer-mentoring and coaching, senior and junior leaders are invited to attend together. Youth participants (under age 26) are offered a discount of 15% of the tuition fee.

MasterCard Foundation Microfinance Scholarships will be available.

Photo courtesy of: Jeff Ashe

What our students say about the course:

“This course taught me not what to think but how to think.”

“My organization is pleased with my work. Since I have enrolled in this course, I have improved in every aspect of my work”

“Because the government is currently working on how to formalize the Informal Financial Groups, he [supervisor] believes this work [action research] and other course materials will provide useful inputs if shared.”


Course Objective

This course aims to provide mid-career savings group, SACCO and other member-owned model practitioners and policy makers with an opportunity to critically analyze their context and experiment with key strategic changes to their savings group programs and policies.

Each month, a different topic will be explored through articles/readings, video clips, expert panels, discussion forums, small group applications and a cumulative organizational learning assignment.

Course Outcomes

  • Deepened skills in field-based problem solving using systems thinking and gender analysis
  • Analysis of the relative role of informal and semi-formal finance within own financial sector
  • Strengthened analysis of drivers and trade-offs in balancing scale, ownership, product and book-keeping sophistication
  • Improved financial analysis of groups and networks
  • Strengthened strategies for building good governance and trust while reducing risks
  • Innovations in the field (including scaled models, digital finance, mobile banking, agent banking, working with excluded youth, remote populations, HIV affected populations)


At least one year experience working with savings groups or other member owned models such as SACCOs, etc.  Policy makers and development practitioners who provide oversight and technical support to savings groups and other member-owned models are also welcome with an understanding that the course is focused on emerging practice.


Scholarships are available from the MasterCard Foundation Microfinance Scholars Program

Scholarship Application deadline is January 26, 2018



William Maddocks

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February 12 to May 11, 2018