The less money a person has, the more time they must spend managing it to ensure it gets them what they need. Well-designed financial services not only help people save when they can and borrow what they need, but also pay school fees, put food on the table, and deal with medical emergencies. Financial services can significantly improve one’s quality of life, and technology and innovation over the last decade is bringing their benefits to more rural and low-income people around the world.
The work at Ulana Insights is to support the development and distribution of useful financial services to people across the developing world. This includes high-level strategy and policy work with governments, donor organizations, multi-national banks and telecoms, and global consulting firms.
However, Ulana Insights also recognizes that innovation sprouts from small companies with big ideas and is engaged in a significant amount of advisory work for fintech start-ups. Further, as these digital finance systems have become relevant to adjacent sectors, the focus of the work has expanded to cover agricultural fintech, PAYG solar, digital humanitarian cash transfers, and adaptive learning platforms as well.
The majority of the work at Ulana Insights is advising clients on policy and strategic operations. The policy work is generally done with regulators who would like to create enabling ecosystems for innovation or national financial inclusion strategies for their countries. Work with technology companies, banks, and telecoms focuses on developing new value propositions and building the appropriate channels for their delivery.
Clients include donors and consulting firms commissioning technical publications to advance industry knowledge and build positions of thought leadership, as well as private sector firms needing market research and competitive analyses to inform their business strategies. Ulana Insights manages both quantitative and qualitative research to provide either bespoke business intelligence or landmark publications.
The interactions of public sector policies and private sector strategies from many industries advancing at the pace of technology means there is always a lot to learn. Trainings are generally for groups of 10-20 professionals and range from introductory sessions in digital finance, to more advanced topics in financial innovation, distribution in developing countries, digital product development, and start-up strategies.
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Finwego is putting the missing middle back in finance, by re-imagining the way salaried Indians can access credit. Finwego’s artificial intelligence-powered algorithm examines the relationship between employment-based data and credit discipline to create an alternative credit score for employees. In November 2018, Ulana Insights made a seed investment.Investment
Conducted a review of the status of humanitarian cash transfers for the GSMA Mobile for Humanitarian Innovation (M4H) team. We investigated the business case for mobile money providers, the challenges with digital finance solutions, and the circumstances under which mobile money is the best payments solution.Advisory Services
As PAYG solar companies push into the rural frontiers of African countries they quickly expand beyond the mobile money infrastructure upon which their models rely. Working with the BFA FIBR project, we helped PEG Ghana develop a solution for rural payments.Advisory Services
Designed and delivered a week-long course on financial innovation at the Boulder Institute of Microfinance. The course covered the theory of innovation, market research techniques, new product development strategies, tools for digital channels and business intelligence analysis.Training
Authored a systematic review of technologies that can dramatically increase agent network management effectiveness for digital finance providers for the Bankable Frontier Associates (BFA) FIBR Project.Publications
Evaluated six projects being done by the United Nations MM4P programme with mobile money agent networks in Zambia and Uganda to advise them on how their work could best contribute to industry knowledge on agent network innovations.Advisory ServicesPublications
Served as a faculty for the third DFS Labs Fintech Bootcamp in Dar es Saalam, Tanzania mentoring fintech start-ups to complete a Google Ventures Design Sprint to improve their product offerings for emerging markets.Training
Data from 26,000 agent network interviews, 21 consulting assignments, and 19 digital finance trainings was used to publish four landmark papers on agent network management for mobile money and agent banking systems for the Helix Institute of Digital Finance.Publications