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Communities of Practice – what are they and what are their benefits?

 

One of the unique aspects of DFI is the focus on taking action and bringing about change in yourself, your organization, industry and country. One of the ways DFI is supporting this is through establishing Communities of Practice (COPs). A COP is a group of people who have a common interest or passion who come together to share knowledge, best practice, and ideas.

DFI offers three types of COPs that students and alumni can join:

1. Course COPs – students on our Certificate in Digital Money (CIDM) and Leading Digital Money Markets (LDMM) course have the opportunity to meet-up physically to discuss the learning, its application and challenges.

2. Alumni COPs – students and alumni can come together to meet and share ideas, opinions, ways to do things. It acts as your professional network.

3. Online COPs – students and alumni have access to DFI’s Switch platform, which has Country COPs as well as topic specific COPs (such as mobile money). As locations for physical meetings are limited, this online community plays an important role in keeping our greater community connected: https://digitalfrontiersinstitute.org/switch

Over the last two years, COP meetings have been held in 18 locations worldwide, and we are beginning to see how working collectively is creating an impact in digital finance and inclusion.

In our survey of attendees, 94% felt that the CoP was a useful networking space, and 89% that the CoP was a useful problem-solving space. The CoP is acting as a springboard for discussion and thinking, as an innovation hub and a network of connections across the industry.

An at individual level knowledge and confidence are increasing, with impacts such as career growth, increased remuneration, and new businesses being started with colleagues met at the COP:

Lubasi Mpasa from FNM Zambia: “The COP meetings were amazing experiences as they brought together most of the industry players in digital financial services as well as some regulator bodies. The discussions were enriching and the ability to share industry knowledge on digital money and related topics was great. My personal gain was networking with representation from Banks, MNO’s and regulators and exchanging vital notes which bridged my knowledge gaps.”

“Now, I have deeper understanding of how various elements within the digital payments ecosystem interrelate. I also feel more confident engaging in conversations on matters concerning digital financial services.” – Vincent Mutai, Kenya E-Government Taskforce.At an organization level we’ve seen new industry collaborations, new products being developed and improvements in staff retention and performance. The bank of Kigali reported their team are more knowledgeable and efficient, which facilitates more time for management to work strategically, and more output. Many organisations also reported switching to a consumer focus and having a human centred design approach.

At an industry wide and country level, we are seeing the COP coming together to assert influence and bring about significant transformation. Two examples of this are Zambia and Uganda:

The Zambia COP group wrote to their central bank offering to consult on financial inclusion strategies. As a result the COP facilitator, Charity Chikumbi, is now Chair of one of the four streams for Zambia’s National Financial Inclusion Strategy, and the COP will be actively involved in advising and bring change.

The Uganda COP have decided to form an A, Digital Finance Professionals Uganda. They are registering as a business, establishing a board, and developing a vision, mission and constitution. Broadly their aim is promoting a digital finance profession and advocate for financial inclusion.

During 2018-2020 COPs will be developed further, with more locations, regular meetings being scheduled, and more content and activity on our online Switch COPs. More COPs will be supported to become professional associations or groups as Uganda are doing, which will help drive digital finance as a profession and financial inclusion. Also more evaluation on the achievement and impact of these COPs will be conducted and shared.

We hope this has encouraged you to attend COP meetings in your location and to participate in our online community! For more information about COPs please contact sarah@digitalfrontiersinstitute.org

 

By Sarah Corley

Sarah Corley
Sarah is DFI's Community & Professional Development Manager, and is responsible for providing opportunities for capacity building of DFS professionals and DFI alumni outside of our online course provision. She has over 19 years of experience within the learning and capacity development within the development and health sector, and is passionate about being a catalyst for change.

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