Last Fall, ProInspire published ProInspire Fellowship in Digital Finance: Executive Summary and Program Learnings. As part of the ProInspire Fellowship in Digital Finance with funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, ProInspire placed five Fellows who advanced several exciting initiatives at federal agencies from December 2016 to March 2020. The report lifts up five key learnings to inform funders, intermediaries, and agencies considering future programs. Learn more about the the report from the Executive summary below.
ProInspire received a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to launch the ProInspire Fellowship in Digital Finance (PFDF), a fellowship program that placed professionals with experience in fintech, digital finance, and financial inclusion in U.S. federal government agencies (USG). The program was designed to serve a dual purpose:
- AT THE INDIVIDUAL AGENCY LEVEL:
build capacity around digital financial inclusion (DFI), demonstrate how digital financial services can be a tool for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), develop strategic approaches for agencies to advance global DFI, and increase the resources agencies devote to the issue
- AT THE INTERAGENCY LEVEL:
pursue projects that foster cross-agency learning and collaboration on how to use digital finance to advance the SDGs
The program ran from December 2016 to March 2020 and ProInspire served as the program manager. Selected agencies included the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), US Department of the Treasury, State Department, and USAID. ProInspire placed five Fellows who advanced several exciting initiatives forward in 18-24 month periods at participating agencies, despite challenges tied to the 2016 Administration change. Tracking the progression of the program’s short-term outcomes is imperative to understanding the longer-term ripple effects of fellow placements in these agencies.
Analysis conducted by Arabella Advisors (Arabella), in partnership with ProInspire, found that placing fellows in federal agencies is a promising tactic for policy advocacy and capacity building. This summary includes highlights from Arabella’s evaluation, as well as ProInspire’s lessons learned.
Change at this level from programs like the ProInspire Fellowship in Digital Finance happens across a multi-year time horizon and requires significant resources and patience to build the ecosystem. Through this summary, we aim to lift up five key learnings to inform funders, intermediaries, and agencies considering future programs:
DESIGNING THE PROGRAM
Plan for a co-design process with funders and agencies, and consider how Administration changes will impact the timeline.
MANAGING MULTIPLE STAKEHOLDERS
Build in flexibility, communicate regularly, and identify boundaries across stakeholders.
Fellowship terms should be longer than one year, to allow for completion of one or two signature projects and time to transition the work.
PARTNERING WITH AGENCIES
Identify a strong sponsor to oversee each fellow and set clear expectations up front to ensure accountability.
Invest for the long term, determine intended outcomes together, and track progress.
Register here for ProInspire’s 2021 Impact Call on Wednesday, April 21st 2021 at 4:00pm ET/ 1:00pm PT to learn more about our work in 2020 and what’s to come in 2021.