Innovectives is offering thriving employment and skills development opportunities for Nigeria’s youth with SME in a Box, especially for young women: a full suite of digital financial services (DFS) and an online training academy accessible via an Android-based PoS (point of sales) machine, combined with physical training. CFYE’s support will enable Innovectives to further expand the inclusivity of SME in a Box, by incorporating gender equality, social inclusion, youth engagement, and decent work specific solutions throughout the recruitment, training, and support of 1.000 existing and 2.000 new agents (67% female, 100% youth).
The lack of private-sector job opportunities is a key barrier for youth in Nigeria to find decent work, with 24.5 million youth unemployed. Another major challenge in Nigeria is that more than 40% of Nigerians are still unbanked in 2018 according to the National Bank of Nigeria, with a gender gap of 24% [3, Global Findex Database]. At the same time, agency banking is increasingly getting popular and the penetration of smartphones across the country is rising. SME in a Box leverages these developments by fulfilling this increasing demand for agency banking services while closing the gender gap in financial access.
Innovectives’ rollout of SME in a Box is organised in five phases across two years. Important to note is that Innovectives already has 15.000 operational agents (35% female) of which 1.000 agents use the new PoS device. In addition, Innovectives and Bopinc already have a three-year collaboration (program D2D Pro) working with a female agent network selling solar lights and DFS. This program was funded by TRANSFORM, a collaboration by DFID and Unilever. Throughout the D2D Pro program, a structured journey was co-designed to inform, train and guide 60 female agents in Osun and Ogun to actively use DFS with Innovectives. Part of this was to ensure all agents had a detailed understanding of the digital financing app and that agents received a suitable Point of Sale (PoS) machine, related training and marketing materials for their shop. To further drive adoption, frequent WhatsApp messages were sent (in peer groups and individually) and regular face-to-face visits were made for troubleshooting and support. The rich amount of learnings of D2D Pro, which provide the foundation for SME in a Box, have been captured in a blog series.
The CFYE program will support and scale this collaboration of Innovectives and Bopinc, specifically on creating an impact on GESI and YE with DFS agents in Nigeria and achieving results in terms of decent work improvements and creation. This approach has largely been informed based on the D2D Pro program, the existing operations, and learnings by Innovectives with 15.000 agents, and the international expertise of Bopinc. Biopinc has led similar projects in India (Driving digital payments and ordering adoption of 10,000 Unilever Shopkeepers with the UNCDF (Better than Cash Alliance, the project structure is similar), Pakistan (creating decent work with 3.000 women retailers while expanding financial inclusion with Danida) and multiple projects with UN Women and 2SCALE to strengthen young female-led businesses. The entire program takes an adaptive management approach, involving testing, monitoring, getting feedback, and making course corrections if necessary, based on co-design feedback mechanisms with youth and women being in the driver’s seat. Hence, a Human-Centered Design (HCD) approach is applied that ensures lean iterations based on quick user feedback. At different levels of the organisation, participation in the project design and rollout will be stimulated.