Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter, and those who matter don't mind.Bernard M. Baruch

The CAFE Field App

November 16, 2016

By Janet Oxley and Salla Mankinen

Good Return launched the CAFE initiative in Cambodia and Nepal to help pro-poor FSPs and their clients. For FSPs, it responds to recent calls for more responsible lending and client protection standards in the sector. At the client level, CAFE provides face-to-face financial education in villages to motivate positive financial behaviour. Financial knowledge is not enough. To have a long term impact, education and training must provide people with the confidence to change their mindset and behaviour. It is the application of knowledge and training that enables low income households to improve their livelihoods – and their lives.


To support our program, we developed the CAFE Field App to facilitate efficient program monitoring and the collection of relevant customer data for the FSP. This technology allows us to scale the program and the benefits for FSPs include better data quality, instant reporting and savings in human resourcing in data entry. It creates a direct communication channel to the villages, providing FSPs feedback on their products and services. FSPs gain a better understanding of their consumers, allowing them to work with their customers to improve services.

Using CAFE Field App

Each trainer and coach is supplied with an Android Tablet installed with the CAFE digital toolbox. Using the café, trainers “check-in” to their session on the tablets, capture learner profiles, answer engagement questions, report on attendance and upload photos. CAFE learners also “check-in” on the tablets using illiteracy friendly questionnaires on topics related to their training engagement levels, their financial situation changes and their communication with the FSP. These questionnaires are designed in consultation with the local community to ensure the avatars and graphics represent the communities we work with. The app was designed for ease of use, taking into consideration many of the people we work with have never interacted with this kind of technology before. The use of cultural symbols, graphics, translations, audio and headphones ensures all learners are included and able to use the technology provided.

FSPs and the Good Return team now have a direct communication channel to village learners that previously required an intermediary. We are also able to collect valuable underlying data, like time spent on learning activities and engagement level in cascading messages, which gives us insights into financial capability changes and technology confidence of the learners

The app has been developed to work offline and synchronises data when the internet becomes available, providing instant online dashboards. The dashboards display the data in visually appealing formats; simple charts and tables with the ability for users to apply filters for easy comparison across variables. Trainers, coaches, partners and the implementation team access the dynamic dashboard to observe trends and make timely adjustments to the delivery of face-to-face training.


As part of this project we are also using a variety of social tools to encourage ongoing communication between trainers, coaches and the team. Using Google hangouts, facebook groups, facebook chat and Google Forms for feedback surveys we invite feedback, experience, digital media and stories from the field, and provide a forum for support and knowledge sharing. Using these tools we are able to scale training into remote locations where face-to-face coaching isn’t always an option.

An agile and iterative approach

Rolling out this technology has been surprisingly smooth. Many thought the biggest problem would be a hesitance of learners, who are often illiterate, to interact with the technology. After learning what a button looks like and what kind of push intensity is required to get a response from a button, most of the learners are fully independent in completing their session check-ins. The biggest challenge has been limited Internet connectivity in remote locations making it difficult to troubleshoot problems with the implementation team. The team has taken an agile and iterative approach to the technology build, enabling them to respond to the needs and wants of end users onsite.

The CAFE Initiative has been an overwhelming success. By partnering with local FSPs and listening to the needs of the communities we work with, we have delivered a 20 week face-to-face training program supported by specially designed digital tools. Our trainers and trainees are already experiencing the benefits of enhanced data collection. With dynamic dashboards giving trainers and FSPs access to learner data, training programs can be altered to better suit the specific needs of training groups. Learners are given the opportunity to provide feedback on the application of their lessons, offering insight into what best motivates lasting behaviour change. Technology can be a powerful tool for development but it is vital that technology solutions are relevant to the lives of its users. Technology can help us better listen to our clients and help connect them with the products and services they need to break the cycle of poverty.

Learners answer questions about their financial behaviours and interactions with FSPs

Learners answer questions about their financial behaviours and interactions with FSPs

About Good Return:

Good Return works in the Asia-Pacific region with a mandate to support economic empowerment for the poor and financially excluded through the delivery of responsible finance and the development of consumer financial capability and empowerment. The Good Return team consists of 40 technical and project support staff, including a unique multidisciplinary specialist suite in financial capability development and consumer empowerment, responsible inclusive finance, agricultural solutions for smallholder farmers, social performance, program quality, data analytics, and digital technology innovation. We work in partnership with low-income households, financial service providers, national microfinance associations and financial regulators to research, design and implement game changing initiatives for the poor. In addition, Good Return partners with strategic technical providers in areas such as Human Centred Design (Fjord-Accenture), Applied Behavioural Analysis (GRID IMPACT) and Innovative Technologies (Cornerstone).

For more information about Good Return visit:
Contact: James Le Compte, Program Director, [email protected]

Categories: Cambodia, Uncategorized

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