De-risking Lending to Small Farmers
Android App for Credit Unions (Kenya)
WOCCU and the Kenya Union of Savings and Credit Cooperatives (KUSCCO), a WOCCU member, developed an android-based app that was intended to drive WOCCU’s innovative agricultural lending methodology.
The Android app included the webserver databases that included information specific to the crops and current SACCO product information.
The app automated information sharing across various user categories that included “Field Officer”, “SACCO Manager”, and “KUSCCO level”.
The App worked mostly offline with connection required before and after field visits/data collection to sync data for user log-in, input crop data, and update any pending SACCO product information and any recent changes to loan applications.
The App included space for the user to enter and update borrower information, project (farm) information, etc.
WHAT WE LEARNED
For future development of such a product, WOCCU recommends that design and development should align with the principles of digital development. The project experienced several challenges that resulted in a poor user interface (UI) and experience (UX) design, did not sufficiently resolve the issues of key stakeholders, and encountered ownership issues that inhibited further investment and development into the platform. While the application showed great promise, these initial design flaws and lack of partner engagement proved too much to overcome and the tool did not receive approval to move into further testing.
(1) As a first step in the development process, the team should first understand the existing ecosystem to identify the right stakeholders to engage and understand their own interests.
From the onset, roles and expectations from each respective stakeholder should be clearly defined and communicated.
A point person from the partner organizations should be identified and involved throughout the process; ensuring process can be communicated to management and senior stakeholders in key entities;
Beyond the immediate project stakeholders, a successful digital development project should identify experts that can be engaged during the development, design and testing of a product; should engage with local and international communities to report on the experience; and, should end with the dissemination of lessons learned.
(2) The design of a digital solution should begin with the end-user and engage them early and often during the design process.
- Such a process should continue to remain iterative, relying on developing a minimum viable product (MVP) earlier in the process which can be tested and revised through testing until a product can be piloted and scaled;
- These stakeholders, beyond being potential users of the platform, may be able to provide technical input into the potential use cases of the application as well as feedback on the user interface design (UI) and user experience design (UX).
Digitized lending has the ability to enable credit unions to improve their lending practices, increase loan volume, decrease lending risks, and provide a wealth of benefits to credit union members. As credit unions continue to digitize their operations, digitizing their lending operations should be a priority pillar of their transformation and be constantly reviewed as part of their digital transformation strategy. WOCCU looks to continue our engagement with our members as they consider the possibilities of digitizing existing lending practices or developing new practices as part of their transformation strategy. As part of our engagement, we look to you, our partners, to share your experiences and we encourage you to reach out to our project team and let us know your thoughts. To spur the conversation, we have included some framing questions below. We would love to hear your feedback and thoughts on the questions below and beyond!
- What has been your experience using digital lending?
- What are some challenges you have experienced?
- What are some opportunities for digital lending in your country?
- What are you excited about?
- Based on your experience, what will credit unions need to do to ensure readiness to develop new practices around digital lending?
- Do you currently offer any digital loan products? If so, what has been your experience developing the product and testing with your credit union members?