Jaclyn Berfond, Manager Monitoring & Evaluation, Women's World Banking
Jaclyn, thank you for participating in the FinEquity Spotlight series. Please tell us a bit about Women's World Banking and your role there.
For the past 40 years, Women’s World Banking has worked with financial service providers and policymakers to advance women’s financial inclusion. We develop innovative financial products and services that meet women’s needs and promote national policies and initiatives that create an enabling environment for women’s financial inclusion. Our belief is that when women are financially included, they experience financial security and prosperity, and ultimately, economic empowerment.
What is your role at Women’s World Banking?
I lead Monitoring & Evaluation at Women’s World Banking. We established M&E as a strategic function two years ago to assess organizational effectiveness, promote continuous learning, and understand the impact of our work. Our M&E starts with strategic and operational dashboards to ensure we have clear indicators to track organizational performance. We align all project monitoring to our organizational dashboards, investing in consistent measurement. Further, we also seek to understand the impact of our work through what we call outcomes research. These are rigorous evaluations of the financial solutions we develop, which we conduct to understand how women are economically empowered when they choose to access, and are able to use, financial services.
Your annual Summit is coming up – what are you most excited about?
We are so excited about this year’s Making Finance Work for Women Summit, our first time going virtual. While not the way we originally envisioned the Summit, I am so proud of how my colleagues have transformed this convening into an innovative event – featuring interactive sessions with global thought leaders, and even virtual networking lounges! We are also particularly excited about the 2nd annual Fintech Innovation Challenge. We just announced the four finalists who will present at the Summit, which will provide a great opportunity to learn more about innovative players promoting women’s financial inclusion.
Why did you decide to work in this field?
I have been working in the field of financial inclusion for most of my career – including almost 10 years at Women’s World Banking! My very first job out of college was at a private wealth management firm. I realized that financial services are an important tool for creating wealth – but there were not equal opportunities to access those services. I knew that I wanted to do more to ensure that the under-served could benefit from the financial services that some of us take for granted.
What role does FinEquity play in your work?
FinEquity provides such a strong platform for organizations and individuals seeking to drive action on women’s financial inclusion. We at Women’s World Banking are always seeking partnerships with like-minded organizations, and have often been able to make these connections and share experiences through the FinEquity community. On a personal note, I find the resources shared through FinEquity to be so helpful in keeping up with innovations in our field, and ensuring we are all learning from one another.
What is the impact of COVID-19 on your work?
Like the rest of the world, Women’s World Banking has had to make many adjustments in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. This ranges from the way we communicate as a team (definitely more Skype and Teams calls), to how we do our work (testing new research methods such as user testing by phone), to how the financial service providers we partner with are affected, and – most importantly – how the women we are seeking to serve are affected. I truly believe that financial inclusion is more critical than ever before, paving the way for economic recovery and building resilience for low-income women to weather the next global shock.
Do you have a “success story” you’d like to share?
In reflecting on this question, I wanted to share something beyond a single “success story.” While I have had the honor of hearing from many women served through our financial solutions, I have also seen the value in data that can demonstrate the impact of our work. Women’s World Banking has continued to invest in research to enhance our ability to assess the outcomes women experience when they access and actively use financial services. We have deployed a variety of quantitative and qualitative research methods, and continue to explore new ways to gather insights. This research and analysis enables us to test our assumptions, and hopefully, validate the stories we have long heard about how women are economically empowered through financial inclusion.
Did we miss anything - is there anything you’d like to add?
Please join us on October 20 and 21 for our Making Finance Work for Women Summit. I also hope you will join me for a FinEquity webinar on “Challenging the Myths around Women's Financial Inclusion” on October 13, to learn more about our work at Women’s World Banking.