Empowering people to solve problems that matter

Empowering people to solve problems that matter

October 21, 2021    

How Cenfri makes systemic change happen

In helping to build a world of opportunity and greater equality, where people and societies thrive, and where the environment is protected, there is no clear path to success and it’s pretty clear to see that achieving this vision is no short-term undertaking. A big question for us and our partners is how we respond and contribute to these broad goals in the work we do, and how we set out on the best pathway to deliver meaningful impact. 

What we do to achieve such an ambitious goal will need to be multi-faceted and address systems-level barriers and problems. So, we’re setting out on an exploration to uncover what we need to do to progressively realise our vision. As part of that journey, we’re taking stock of our complete portfolio of work and how this comes together to drive forward the change we’d like to see. We’re asking ourselves where, and in which themes, we need to see what impact to achieve our vision.  

We’re also asking ourselves how this impact comes about and what our specific role is so that we can use that to orientate what work we pursue and how we go about it. We’ve always had quite a broad concept of our purpose, namely: to empower people to solve problems that matterThat means that we work with stakeholders to help them tackle challenges and issues that matter to the end results we want to see. So, we recognise that we need to empower others, as ultimate change agents, to solve developmental problems with our evidence, advice and support. Our goal is for this approach to have a ripple effect beyond those individuals and organisations that we work with directly, so that our impact will exceed our individual efforts and persist beyond the direct work we do, to matter for Africa’s economic future and the lives of its citizens. 

As we work to describe the impact pathways that underly our current work, we’ve documented our idea of how we as Cenfri help to make change happen 

Our pathway to impact starts with us bringing a consortium of partners together around a common impact objective and working with them to identify the intractable problems that need to be addressed. We then generate robust evidence around such problems through a local or country process. As part of this process, we share fit-for-context consumer and market insights with key stakeholders in the private and public sectors and then work to empower them to apply these insights through workshops, training and technical assistance. Simultaneously, we build relationships and leverage these to increase the collaboration of actors across the market ecosystem. We then take this evidence and our insights into regional and global processes to help shape global solutions and guidance around these problems and feed these global solutions back down to implement through our local or country processes. 

Step by step, this chain of events builds towards influencing policy and strategy as well as improving implementation and bringing about changes in the dynamics of the market system. Ultimately, these improvements and changes reflect in the real economy, through impacts like better governance, improved access to financial services and more resilient households and businesses, that, in turn, create welfare and boost development.  

The process is not linear – it’s an iterative sequence of change events that build up over time and across the ecosystem. And while there are not always quick wins, we’re heartened by the impact we’ve already been able to measure. For example: 

  • As a result of interventions applied during our Risk, Remittances and Integrity (RRI) programme, we helped financial service providers improve products for over 361,000 people.  
  • Our inputs and engagements with regulators as well as regional and global bodies have changed 12 guidelines, frameworks and regulations across Africa, Asia and Latin America.   
  • Through our insight2impact and RRI programmes, we have fostered 26 partnerships between development partners, policymakers and regulators.  

This reflection is just a first step in our exploration. Next, we want to explore the specifics of how what we do contributes to achieving change. We also want to add up how the topics that we engage on come together for economic impact. This will allow us to build a much more detailed view, across each of our themes, to help us track our progress towards the change we’re striving to achieve.  

We’ll continue to share our process and progress at various points in the journey. Watch this space to stay updated on what we learn along the way.  


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