May 29, 2020
Member Spotlight: IFC

From its global newsletter to its major annual events, ANDE members have access to a multitude of platforms for promoting their work and co-creating knowledge with other members. The ANDE Member Spotlight Blog is a series of short, interview-based blog posts highlighting an ANDE member organization and any new projects, recent investments, or ongoing research with interesting learnings that add value to the ANDE community.

The International Finance Corporation (IFC), a member of the World Bank Group, fosters sustainable economic growth in developing countries by financing private sector investment, mobilizing capital in the international financial markets, and providing advisory services to businesses and governments. IFC helps companies and financial institutions in emerging markets create jobs, generate tax revenues, improve corporate governance and environmental performance, and contribute to their local communities. The goal is to improve lives, especially for the people who most need the benefits of growth.

ANDE spoke with Graeme Harris, Vally Tsiftsi, and Reth Kim of the IFC’s Financial Institution Group to learn about their Principles for Learning for training and advisory service providers working in emerging markets, and the accompanying publication Guide to Training, due to launch June 10. The principles represent foundational qualities that make performance improvement projects effective and impactful, while the Guide provides detailed steps and advice for each phase of a project.

The following interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Tell us about your team and the role it plays in the SGB ecosystem.

Our team is part of IFC’s Financial Institutions Group, and leads a skills development project on Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) development and entrepreneurship with focus on the Middle East, Africa and Asia. The program has traditionally managed a network of local trainers and advisory service providers supporting various World Bank Group programs and developed many tools and assets relating to skills training and capacity building in the entrepreneurial space.

Around three years ago, we embarked on a new journey to improve IFC’s skills training and entrepreneurship focus. The three key challenges we faced included:

1. Scale and cost effectiveness: How do we increase the scale, impact and cost effectiveness of our programs?

2. Quality assurance: How do we achieve greater quality assurance and consistency of training programs? In other words, how can we make sure that the networks of consultants or trainers we engage with are delivering good quality services to our clients?

3. Availability of a global network: When we have a client in a developing country facing a specific need, is there an existing local partner who can engage with the project team to meet the development needs of that client? How can we connect demand to supply and create a marketplace for local advisory service providers?

One of the critical things we have been doing is engaging with external development providers as well as other stakeholders, many of whom are part of the ANDE network. In our extensive consultations with ANDE members, we have found that many have identified the same three challenges as key constraints within their own programs. The objective of our program is to foster collaboration and jointly tackle those issues.

What do the Principles for Learning and Guide to Training look like? How did they come to be?

Within the World Bank Group, investing in human capital is a top priority. Investing in training and continuous learning provides people with the skills and knowledge to realize their potential as productive members of society. Micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) are vital for socio-economic development in emerging markets. The IFC Local Advisory Services Program is working towards creating greater investment in human capital for MSMEs in emerging markets and fragile and conflict-affected areas, while having a strong focus on increasing women’s economic participation.

We noticed that in emerging markets the capacity-building sector lacked industry-wide principles, practices, and guidelines. To fill in this gap, we created the Principles for Learning and the accompanying Guide to Training to put the principles into action. We came up with eight very simple and straightforward guiding principles for training professionals to design a high-quality training program. The principles reflect the four key elements of successful training and learning programs — they need to be impactful, inclusive, scalable, and sustainable. Those Principles for Learning lay the foundations for designing a training program, while the Guide to Training goes through every step of the process. It is a practical user guide.

Have you applied a gender lens when developing these materials? How do you hope the materials will be used to bolster gender-inclusive practices?

Closing the gender gap is another critical issue for trainers in emerging markets. Equipping women with skills and knowledge, and enabling them to realize their tremendous potential, is not only a social and moral imperative, it is an economic necessity too. We have identified some general barriers to women participating in learning programs and capacity-building programs — at the country, individual and family levels. For example, women spend three times the amount of time compared to men in performing household responsibilities. As a result, they might not have enough time to attend training. Our Guide to Training and Principles for Learning raises awareness of these barriers and helps learning professionals create gender-inclusive initiatives, for example, in scheduling training during school time or embedding mentoring and coaching into training.

Over the last years, we have collated and documented many best practices from across the World Bank Group, the IFC Gender Business Group, and various development organizations in this space. Thanks to our materials, anyone working on capacity building and skills-development projects in emerging markets will have access to a set of guidelines and best practices. Beyond skills training, we have overlaid a focus on resilience building, through mentoring, coaching and peer networks, showing that the combination of both training and resilience building can lead to a greater opportunity for success.

What are some takeaways that might be helpful to the rest of the ANDE community? How can they get involved?

The Guide to Training and the Principles for Learning are publicly available resources. They would be equally useful to member organizations’ staff, their clients, and training partners. We would like to encourage ANDE members working in the training development space to incorporate the Principles and the Guide into their training programs and share their takeaways with partners and other stakeholders.

Both the Principles and the Guide to Training are housed on the Grow Learn Connect (GLC) platform. The platform offers ANDE members a set of tools and resources that can applied to their training and SME development programs and connect them with a global network of training professionals. The platform also incorporates:

· A directory of certified training professionals available to join ANDE development programs in emerging markets. The directory is also an opportunity for ANDE member organizations to promote their own training services and connect with other companies working in the training development space.

· Certifications for trainers developed in collaboration with leading learning institutions to promote the quality of training services, such as the IFC Master Trainer certification and the IFC-LPI TPMA certification.

We hope ANDE members find the Principles and the Guide useful, incorporate them into their own skills development programs, and share with their networks. We are currently engaging with various international development organizations to formally recognize these principles and would also like to invite ANDE members to join this effort. Please contact Reth Kim to find out how you can get involved.