Advans’ first Innovation and Partnerships seminar in Cote d’Ivoire

At the beginning of November staff members from across the Advans network came together to discover and learn from the innovative solutions that Advans Cote d’Ivoire offers to its clients through establishing partnerships with key actors especially in rural areas.

Objectives of the seminar

The Innovation and Partnerships seminar, a three-day event held in Abidjan, was made possible thanks to the 2018 European Microfinance Award.  The seminar was the first of its kind in the group, being hosted by a subsidiary and involving staff members from across the network together with representatives from the group’s Business Development and Marketing teams so as to enhance exchanges. The seminar aimedto offer subsidiaries the opportunity to learn from Advans Côte d’Ivoire’s experience in developing innovative solutions for customers, especially those lacking in access to financial services, through building offers with key partners. It also aimed to define a model for commercial partnerships management while ensuring that customers remain at the centre of the partnership development process. These aims were facilitated through the sharing of good practices between subsidiaries and partaking in workshop sessions. Presentations sharing Advans Côte d’Ivoire’s expertise together with field visits to meet the beneficiaries of the key projects discussed facilitated experience sharing and encouraged discussion between participants. At the end of the seminar, each country representative was asked to define their partnerships roadmap for the future, with the aim of reaching out to new clients and improving their existing services in the years to come.

Advans Côte d’Ivoire shares its experience in cocoa and other sectors

During the seminar Advans Côte d’Ivoire’s rural and financial inclusion team shared its experience working in the cocoa and other value chains with key partners. Advans has been a pioneering force for the financial inclusion of cocoa farmers in the country since 2012 and presented the evolution of its offer for farmers, from its input loan scheme in partnership with cooperatives, input providers and exporters (going from serving 26 cooperatives in 2013 to 265 cooperatives in 2019 with a cumulated total volume of credits disbursed of more than € 5m in 2019), to its digital school loans (2,315 loans disbursed for cocoa farmers in 33 cooperatives in 2019) offered through collaboration with the cooperatives and the MTN mobile banking menu. The team also presented Advans Côte d’Ivoire’s partnership with the NGO CARE proposing digital savings and loans services for village associations. Other partnership examples more focused on urban areas were also shared, like Advans fully digital data exchange with the e-commerce site Jumia, offering a new segment of clients (e-commerce sellers) access to loans with a streamlined process.

Field visits to see partnerships in action

Participants got to witness the innovative partnerships in practice on the second day of the seminar with a field visit to a cocoa cooperativeand a women’s Village Savings & Loan Association (VSLA) next to the town of Tiassalé, north of Abidjan. The team was warmly welcomed by the SCARDI cooperative in the Trois Carrefours village where they had the opportunity to hear first-hand feedback from the farmers and the cooperative board members on how Advans financial services had helped them and what challenges they face on a daily basis. Members of the visiting Advans subsidiaries were very pleased to meet the cocoa producers and understand how the cooperatives functioned. They also had the unique opportunity to visit a cocoa plantation with local farmers while Advans CI’s rural and financial inclusion team was on hand to answer questions. The second half of the field visit included a meeting with a local women’s VSLA with a brief presentation of the structure of the VSLA followed by a short Q&A session.

What participants said

“I was particularly impressed by the strong community relationships and solidarity that we witnessed during the cooperative visit.” – shared Yanith Chheng, COO of Advans Myanmar.

Alhassan Salley, Head of Partnerships Development at Advans Ghana, stated: “The workshop was insightful and very relevant to my role in Advans Ghana. The knowledge, experiences and best practices shared will significantly impact my approach to how I engage with existing partners and how to develop new partnerships.”

On the host side, Fatim Diabate, Head of Innovation and Development, and Albert Dah, Head of Agricultural Operations at Advans Côte d’Ivoire commented: “We spent 3 intensive days full of sharing experience, exchanging of ideas and thinking collectively on how to boost our partnerships and ensure a healthy growth of our activities. What made the seminar unique was the fact that it was held in a subsidiary and it included a day on the field, where participants got to experience our innovative solutions first hand.”