CiFi Centre Research Associate Career Opportunity
Posted: Aug 22, 2013
Consumer Insights for Financial Inclusion (CiFi) Centre Research Associate Career Opportunity
Consumer Insights for Financial Inclusion (CiFi) Centre:Research Associate
Kenya has emerged as a leader in the application of technology to financial inclusion. It is home to Safaricom’s M-PESA service, one of the world’s most successful mobile payments schemes.
Equity Bank is probably the most effective provider of financial services to low-income markets on the continent and has placed branchless banking at the heart of its future retail strategy. The number of bank accounts has expanded four fold in the space of six years.
Partnerships between Safaricom and the commercial banking sector have produced a range of financial products that ride on the M-PESA transactional ‘rails’.
Notable among these is a recent partnership with the Commercial Bank of Africa (CBA), M-Shwari, which provides both a savings account and a credit facility operated entirely through the mobile channel.
The Financial Sector Deepening (FSD) programme was established in 2005 to support the development of financial markets in Kenya as a means to stimulate wealth creation and reduce poverty.
Working in partnership with the financial services industry, the programme’s goal is to expand access to financial services among lower income households and smaller enterprises, as a route to strengthening the livelihoods of lower-income Kenyans.
It operates as an independent trust under the supervision of professional trustees, KPMG Kenya, with guidance from a Programme Investment Committee (PIC). In addition to the Government of Kenya, funders include the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID), the World Bank, the Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA) and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
FSD’s support for digital financial markets in Kenya has become increasingly central to its programme. FSD has brought together a number of initiatives into a more coherent vision to support the goal of creating a ‘cash-lite’ economy in Kenya over the medium term.
The rationale behind this vision is that constraints to financial inclusion can only really be addressed at scale through leveraging on digital technologies.
While Kenya has made impressive strides in broadening the outreach of financial services, the cost of transactions and access to finance still represent major constraints to deepening financial inclusion and increasing the impacts of financial services on poverty.
Exclusion remains high among the lowest income groups and for many others low levels of usage point to the limitations of current services.
Technology opens up possibilities to tackle both affordability and relevance. In 2013, FSD’s vision for a ‘cash-lite’ financial sector was given a major boost through a new strategic partnership with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
The synergies of FSD’s years of in-country experience combined with Gates’ global expertise in digital finance will drive a common vision based on a series of concrete interventions and activities across the sector.
Research is an important part of FSD-Gates approach to digital financial inclusion. Earlier work – especially examining the demand-side – has been highly effective in supporting the development of a range of work.
A focus of future work will to further leverage on consumer insights, translating them into financial solutions which can be brought to market through specific partnerships with providers.
In building an effective and supportive infrastructure for the delivery of digital finance, there is a need for more research on agency models, technology/consumer interfaces, as well as price tracking to monitor the effects of interoperability.
Lastly, in relation to policy, research is required on the implications of digital finance for consumer protection and fraud, as well as monitoring poverty impacts, including over-indebtedness.
Future research into digital financial inclusion will now be managed through the Consumer Insights for Financial Inclusion Centre (CiFi) as part of the wider Knowledge Theme project portfolio.
A sister project, the Retail Innovations Initiative (RII), will operate in tandem, focusing on managing and driving innovation partnerships with industry.
In addition to leveraging on research to drive retail innovation, CiFi will also contribute to policy and infrastructural development through close synergies with FSD’s new Policy Support Facility (PSF) and the Kenya Payment Platform Project.
A research associate (RA) is required to support the new Centre’s Project Lead.
Support research to underpin realisable solutions for developing digital financial markets and improving the financial capabilities of low-income people
3. Scope of Work
3.1 Industry engagements
The RA will coordinate research to support concrete industry partnerships orchestrated through the RII. This will require the RA to be highly responsive to a range of research requirements under specific industry partnerships.
Here, the RA and CiFi Project Lead will work closely together with the RII team to strategise on how research can best support identified initiatives with large scale providers and smaller innovators.
3.2 Core research activities
CiFi will be grounded in rigorous and in-depth core research from which relevant insights and tools can be drawn. An important part of the core research activities will be tracking the impacts of CiFi on digital financial capability.
The Research Associate is expected to manage all research activities conducted under CiFi under the direction of the CiFi project lead.
CiFi will involve a number of different research initiatives, from action research partnerships with industry providers orchestrated via the Retail Innovations Initiative (RII) to core qualitative and quantitative studies to deepen market insights.
The RA will monitor the implementation of research initiatives to ensure quality, relevance, cost control, timeliness and ethical standards are maintained at all stages including instrument design, sampling, piloting, instrument revision, fieldwork and coding.
This will involve managing relationships with researchers conducting research; developing research protocols to ensure quality; monitoring and supervising data collection including field visits where necessary.
The RA will be expected to ensure that all findings together with all key research issues encountered and resolutions are systematically documented in line with good research practice.
A substantial proportion of CiFi’s outputs will involve analysing data that has already been collected to address emerging questions and derive insights that are relevant to market development for policy and industry audiences.
This involves bridging high-level academic inputs and the needs of stakeholders directly engaged in market development.
The RA will participate in the analysis process to ensure that the data is analysed rigorously and useful insights are generated. This is typically likely to involve a combination of direct analysis and working with other analysts on a partnership or contract basis.
The RA will engage across a wide disciplinary spectrum (eg: econometrics, behavioural economics, institutional economic, anthropology, linguistic analysis etc.) working closely with technical specialists in order to extract relevant insights for industry, policy and development audiences.
3.4 Editing and writing
The RA will edit or co-write (as appropriate) research reports/papers presenting the key findings, analysis, insights and implications of the research. Reports produced by external researchers often need substantial editing and revisions before publication by FSD.
Analysis needs to be communicated effectively through a range of different outputs, including short briefs and presentation which distil key insights for policy and industry audiences, as well as academic papers, blogs and so forth.
To be effective in FSD’s wider market development aims, it is vital that the implications of its work are understood, distilled appropriately and communicated to a wider audience within the boundaries of partner commercial confidentiality.
The RA will work closely with the RII and Policy teams and FSD’s communications team to package outputs appropriately. The RA will also be responsible for coordinating stakeholder engagements in collaboration with the CiFi Programme Officer, and managing the communications strategy.
This will include updating the website and producing a quarterly ‘state of the sector’ report in collaboration with the Business Analyst working under RII.
3.6 Global academic engagement
The RA will keep abreast of global research relevant to FSD’s digital market development agenda involving literature review, liaising with researchers and academics engaged in research on Kenya or global research on relevant topics and frameworks.
The RA will communicate this to the wider FSD team. The RA will organise a workshop of global research experts to address core topics central to CiFi’s goals.
3.7 Project management
The RA will be responsible for supporting the CiFi Project Lead in effective project management to ensure that deadlines are adhered to; regular reporting on progress via FSD’s project management tools (preparing progress against output reports for monthly steering committees and quarterly and annual reports); drafting contacts and terms of reference for external research inputs; tracking budgets and so forth.
- A relevant qualification in social science (minimum bachelor’s degree, masters preferred)
- At least 4 years relevant research experience in a developing country context (preferably Kenya)
- Strong analytical skills
- Excellent spoken and written English
How to apply:
Send your application including a cover letter indicating your desire to work with our client; a detailed CV highlighting relevant experience, details of current and expected salary, a daytime phone contact, email address, and the names of three professional referees to:
P O Box 6416, Nairobi,
Please note that we do not charge fees for receiving or processing job applications.
Closing date: 3rd September 2013