An Evidence-Based Approach to Designing Financial Services for the Underserved

An Evidence-Based Approach to Designing Financial Services for the Underserved

Rethinking Financial Inclusion is a Harvard Kennedy School Executive Education program exploring frontier issues in finance for the underserved. This one-week program combines an evidence-based approach with theoretical insights. During the program, leaders survey the changing landscape of finance, enhance their understanding of client needs, and equip them with the tools they need to design effective financial products and policies in their settings. Learn more about the next offering of RFI, which will take place from October 14-19, 2018.     


Participants will hear insights from the latest research on:

  • Lending for micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises
  • Savings products
  • Insurance products
  • Mobile payments
  • Business and financial literacy training


In a follow-up survey of RFI attendees from the 2014-2017 cohorts:

  • 90% said they found the course extremely or very relevant to their own work in financial inclusion
  • 90% said that the way they approached and used data and evidence had changed since attending the course
  • 100% said they had applied or intended to apply aspects of EPoD’s Smart Policy Design and Implementation (SPDI) framework in their work.


Click below to read what RFI alumni have to say about the course:

Babatunde Tijani - Principal Investment Officer, African Development Bank

The SPDI framework has been instrumental for me in my work. I work in a multilateral development bank and over the past few months we have been working on an evaluation of the impacts of our financial sector operations and seek to make appropriate revisions. The knowledge and training received from the RFI course have been useful in examining benefits and evaluating impacts especially in the setting of baselines and counterfactual scenarios.”

Randall Williams - Regional Director of Operations, Zoona Malawi

“The group work was superb as it had diverse participants injecting their own experience and insights into solving a real world problem. I definitely was able to use some of these insights to consolidate and restructure [my organization’s] operations. We have a Data department that is staffed by Math PhDs and I always felt that they were the only ones who owned that space. I now realize that I can manipulate my own field data and get some amazing insights that I have been able to use with much success in my most recent assignment.”

Malik Asif Russd - Head of Credit, BRAC Uganda Microfinance Limited

“I used the learnings to successfully roll out a credit life insurance scheme for over 200,000 clients. I engaged in a number of research projects just to learn more about our clients.  The year 2016 has been one of the most successful years in the history of our institute and I attribute the success to great extent to some of the lessons learnt at RFI.  We are in the process of transforming our institute into a regulated entity. The structured approach to problem solving I learned about in the training helped me design and refine the business processes for the new operating environment.”

Ana Pantelic, PhD - Chief Strategy Officer, Fundación Capital, Colombia

“I shared the [SPDI] framework with our entire team in a virtual brown bag presentation, such that everyone on our staff could benefit from the lessons learned. Furthermore, I push our team to focus our efforts on understanding the problem, rather than jumping to a solution. This was something that I learned over the course of the group work: practitioners have an inherent desire to solve problems and quickly come up with solutions, but if we don't think through the problem first, we may end up with a situation in which we are finding a problem that fits our solution, instead of vice-versa.”