What should banking products and services look like for those living on a few dollars a day?
Even though Barclays Africa Group have been doing business on the continent for over 100 years, they are having a major market penetration issue with a customer base of only 12 million customers according to a recent article in American Banker Magazine. That is roughly equivalent to about 1% of the entire population of Africa. If one were to make a logical leap they could say that their, and de facto, traditional banking products and services or not compelling and/or relevant for the other 99% of the population. This is a giant hurdle to overcome for an industry giant driven by decades old legacy systems and what seemed as an insurmountable gap in understanding the context of financial lives of Africans.
As a part of the Doblin EU practice, the strategic innovation wing of Deloitte Consulting in London, I had the responsibility and the privilege of leading the design, planning and execution of ethnographic research studies in South Africa and Kenya. We spent over two months travelling across the continent exploring individual, social, cultural and systemic dynamics related to finances in communities with individuals living on just a few dollars per day. We spoke with individuals living in some of the most impoverished slums and townships in all of Africa, explored local township economies and street commerce, and immersed ourselves in local culture and customs. The outcomes of our research informed the work of engineers, developers, business strategists and senior project and business leaders.
Although I cannot elaborate on the specifics of this project beyond the above publicly available information, I'd like to invite you to watch this short video we have created during this project that reflects on the depth and the power of design-ethnography in helping organisations engage with those previously underserved and overlooked by traditional business models.
On a personal note, I have experienced a very deep and meaningful connection with people on this project and will carry the stories of the individuals we met, interviewed, laughed and cried with for the duration of my career. I'd like to acknowledge the Doblin Group and their leadership in pursuing this project as well as my teammates for their dedication and passion for making an impact in people's lives through this project.
Special thanks to Samantha 'Hide Yo Coffee' Ruiz, Ben 'The Prof' Reizenstein, Matt 'Fiskebar' Locsin, Renato 'Babyface' Mazziero, Claire 'Digital 4-evahh' Dowling, Meghan 'Mama Africa' McCormick, Martin 'I'll have another Tusker' Ryan, Hannah 'Don't hit delete' Lee and the irreplaceable Adam 'The Photo Police' Wendel!