"The means is dialogue, the end is learning, the purpose is peace." ~ Founder Dr. Jane Vella

From Collection to Connection : Dialogue Education for Deep Knowledge Sharing

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As the UN’s leading agency for financial Inclusion, the United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) launched the YouthStart program in partnership with the MasterCard Foundation to help spur innovation and delivery of financial services for youth in Africa and mainstream them into inclusive financial sectors. YouthStart works with 10 financial service providers (FSPs) across eight countries in Sub-Saharan Africa in developing, piloting and rolling out youth-focused financial products, especially savings, and non-financial services (NFS) such as financial literacy or reproductive health education.

Each year, YouthStart gathers its partnering FSPs for an annual training on various youth focused services. As this is the final year for the YouthStart Pilot Programme, we wanted to bring our partners together in Kigali, Rwanda to not only learn about their experiences for the past four and half years, but to also share their knowledge and best practices which has helped them achieve greater results in serving youth.

When we started searching for a co-facilitator for this workshop, we wanted to make sure that they would understand the objectives of the workshop and serve as a bridge which would facilitate the discussions between FSPs and UNCDF. We also wanted to ensure that the facilitator would be able to quickly understand the work conducted by each of the stakeholders and provide an objective yet critical insight on how the knowledge and experience generated from partner FSPs could help inform YouthStart as it looks to expand in the future. Global Learning Partners not only provided that bridge, but they were integral in helping us design one of the best workshops for our partners to date.

The particular methodology used by GLP was fundamental to the success of the workshop: they used a participatory approach with both UNCDF and partner FSPs which allowed for an open, honest, and collaborative platform during the three-day workshop.  From the very first day of their assignment, Christine Little and Peter Noteboom displayed a level of professionalism and comfort with their tasks at hand. The duo operated diligently to understand the four years of work which had been accomplished by UNCDF and its partners; a task which would appear daunting to some. Yet the ease presented by these two was in fact a reflection of GLPs style: a synergy of partners focused on open learning in a trustworthy environment where the knowledge shared by each individual contributes to the collectives’ knowledge gained. By reinforcing this open platform for dialogue, our partners were able to share successes and challenges and learn from each other on how to leverage and mitigate both respectively.

Suffice it to say, the planning of the workshop was, in our opinion, planned extremely well. Yet, with the rapid onset of travel restrictions put in place due to the Ebola outbreak, we had never imagined the Dakar team would miss the workshop in Kigali. Thanks in part to modern technology we were able to participate in the workshop via teleconference. However, the contributing factor which made us feel integrated into the sessions was GLPs continued support in assimilating us into the sessions by constantly checking in on us and reminding participants to seek our input during team break-out sessions.

By the end of the workshop, we and our partners had gained deep insights and strategies to help us each as move forward in our plans to increase youths’ access to finance. We also realized that we have gained a valued partner for UNCDF as we are always in search of collaborators who share similar visions for shared learnings. As we look towards expanding our program, GLP will always be a reference and reminder for us on how dialogue can lead to gaining fascinating insights from our own experiences.

Want to learn more about the impact of this knowledge sharing event?  Check out these videos to hear participants share their lessons learned and takeaways (in English and French).  

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Maria Perdomo is the YouthStart Programme Manager with United Nations Capital Development Fund.  To stay up to date about the incredible work and impact of YouthStart, we invite you to sign up for their newsletter here.  You can contact Maria directly at maria.perdomo@uncdf.org

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