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We have partnered with The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), national government and Access to Finance Rwanda (AFR) to support the development of market-based solutions to the financial needs of forcibly displaced people and their host communities. The work has so far had three major initiatives: a research report, a Design Sprint and an innovation challenge.

1. Market assessment report

In partnership with BFA Global, we produced a market intelligence report titled Refugees and their money (or find the summary here). The report is a triangulation of four different research activities:  segmenting and sizing refugees as a market for financial services; translating the segments into business cases to assess potential for serving this market; creating profiles of segments based on field research in refugee camps; and assessing the regulatory environment to provide financial services for refugees.

2. FDP Design Sprint

A design sprint is a 3-5 day process in which financial service providers are put through an intensive course of learning, designing and testing new product ideas for a target market – in our case, the FDP communities. On 1st – 3rd November 2018, we brought two worlds together by inviting 5 financial service providers into the Gihembe refugee community in Rwanda to participate in a Product Design Sprint. This involved rapid learning, ideation, prototyping and testing of innovative new products based on the specific needs of a refugee community. Some of the experiences were captured on video and can be viewed here (and a shorter version here)

3. Innovation Competition

In December 2017, and to maintain momentum following the Design Sprint, together with AFR, we run an innovation competition where they awarded £10,000 to 5 financial service providers with the most promising refugee finance product concepts. The firms were contracted between March – May 2018 for 3-4 months to test the concepts. Some of the firms were not able to take their concepts further. We have awarded a grant to Equity Bank Rwanda to offer an unstructured service data (USSD) channel that gives access to Equity Bank services on mobile phone. This will involve opening of up to 90,000 accounts and the users will be able to access savings, loans, remittances and insurance services.