This post originally appeared on the SPINNAKER Network
While the Savings for the Poor Innovation and Knowledge Network (SPINNAKER) lives and breathes data, collaboration is its heartbeat. While a “community-driven data platform” may sound like an oxymoron to some, we see it as a fresh approach to facilitating new ideas among a growing yet disparate and uncoordinated field.
Here is how we see the problem: though innovations in savings products for the poor and their distribution channels have been tremendous over the five or so years, the field continues to face challenges in designing, marketing and delivering savings products that reach their market potential. Even in the many cases where financial institutions offer unique, innovative and successful savings products, the particulars of the products are very often unknown outside of -- and even sometimes within -- their own market.
Here is our theory of change: through collaborative sharing on a common platform that improves the way we produce, store, discuss and share information and data, everyone in the savings for the poor field gets more access to better data more quickly, which in turns results in a field that operates more efficiently and innovates more quickly. We’re testing this theory through SPINNAKER by:
• Aggregating and cataloguing information and data that can be used to inform policies, programs and products
• Making analysis, tools, and guides on best practices and other research easily accessible
• Providing a space for experts, donors, financial institutions, practitioners and other stakeholders to engage in dialogue with one another and explore possible collaboration and ideas to overcome challenges in mobilizing savings
Our Collaborative Model so Far
During SPINNAKER’s exploratory phase, we’ve engaged frequently with experts, practitioners and researchers in the field discuss the field’s data and information needs, as well as brainstorm new and interesting ways to collectively piece together the savings landscape puzzle. One particular exercise took place in June of this year: we convened a roundtable of 10 savings for the poor experts to present a demo site and discuss our approach to and priorities for collecting and visualizing data. Unsurprisingly, their preferences for the type of product information they thought should be collected by SPINNAKER reflected the type of work their institution leads. The technical assistance providers seem to be interested in promotion and marketing methods while researchers and consulting firms were interested in product fees. Financial institutions showed interest in operational information such as costing, technology and target populations. Clearly, lots of different data are needed and useful to the various stakeholders in the field, so SPINNAKER’s aim has so far been to aggregate and standardize as many of these variables as possible.
Thanks to everyone’s contributions, the site and its functions have since been revamped. Indeed, the current alpha version of the site would not be possible without the participation and support of various partners. For example, the framework of the resource section builds on the online savings resource guide for financial institutions developed by Women's World Banking and CGAP. Many of the institutional profiles you see in the database contain information provided by the MIX Market. The pilot “deep dive” study in the Philippines, and the corresponding institution and product data, was conducted jointly with MicroSave to survey the country’s savings product landscape. While we feel like the site is off to a good start, it is far from complete. Our hope is that with everyone’s involvement, SPINNAKER will develop into a high quality, super functional data platform that encourages and nurtures collaboration, inquiry and debate and ultimately, makes us all more effective researchers, advocates, developers or providers of savings for poor populations.
Ways to Get Involved Today
• Include your (or your affiliates’) product data in our global savings mapping exercise by completing the data entry form (all sources of information and data are attributed prominently on the site)
• Share your videos, blogs, questions and research with the larger field
• Explore our product comparison and graphing tools
• Sign up to join the network and receive updates
• Participate in our current discussion forum on innovation
• Get in touch to explore how SPINNAKER can be of service to you
• Answer our brief survey to help shape SPINNAKER’s design and offerings