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Opportunity EduFinance
Level 18, 100 Bishopsgate, London EC2M 1GT

Telephone: +44 (0) 7768599834

© 2021 Opportunity International Education Finance functions under its US and UK affiliates. Opportunity International United Kingdom is registered as a charity in England and Wales (1107713) and in Scotland (SCO39692). Opportunity International United Statesis a 501(c)3 nonprofit.

5 RULES OF THE ROAD(SHOW): Learnings from our EduFinance Experts

By Catherine O’Shea

Opportunity EduFinance’s first ‘stop’ on our mission to improving children’s access to quality education is through a ‘roadshow.’ This is the first step in financial institution partner engagement, when EduFinance offers technical assistance services to help the institution launch and grow a quality EduFinance portfolio invested in the local education sector.

First, when launching in a new country, our EduFinance Technical Assistance team conducts desktop research on the financial institutions in a market and shortlists those that might be best positioned to launch EduFinance loan products.

Next, the team works to contact financial institutions to determine their interest in scheduling a meeting to hear the business case for EduFinance. All means of communication are used – from leveraging professional networks to cold calling. More recently LinkedIn messaging has proved quite successful.

Once a robust list of meetings has been scheduled, the in-person roadshow begins. The team is generally on a roadshow for a full week and may meet 15 or more financial institutions.

While COVID-19 travel restrictions paused in-person roadshows, with travel resuming and new safety measures in place, EduFinance is ramping up roadshows again as we continue to expand our outreach. As this has been a season of reflection, we thought it timely to ask three members of our team to reflect on the key factors for delivering a successful roadshow. Mathieu Fourn, Jane Aik and Julius Omoding took part in a discussion on how to deliver roadshows that lead to strong interest in education lending, and ultimately strong partnerships that drive capital investment in education.

1. LEARN & LISTEN FIRST

Research the market, the country and the specific focus of the financial institution. You have to find out how the financial institution delivers products and appreciate the needs of the country and partner – for example, do they deliver digital products? You have to find out if they already lend to the education sector because this can completely change the approach to getting them on board.

Technical Assistance Advisors need to have enough knowledge of the market and the ability to use the right examples. Studying the trends of the market and the FI’s products and services is key to building a future understanding of expectations and outcomes.

Listening skills are very important. Financial institutions might expect you to talk, and what you have prepared to say may not be relevant to them. Before you present, learn about them first. They may think you know everything about them, but you have to make sure you understand their context first. The overall goal is to make sure you show them what opportunity is in the market as well as addressing their current needs.

2. MAKE OR BREAK TIMING

Make sure you are connecting at a time when the financial institution is listening and willing to consider your proposal. You have to research and build a relationship to identify whether it is the right time to pitch. For example, end of their fiscal year is likely not the right time.

The timing of what is happening in a country is also really important– for example, in relation to the Covid-19 pandemic and the situation facing schools.

It is vital to consider all situations in a country both with the partners or their affiliates to make sure the approach is happening at the right time.

3. PREPARATION + TEAMWORK

There are key questions you need to find out in advance: Who is in the room making the decisions? Find out as much as you can about the CEO, his career and successes. Does the CEO listen to the business team? Who do you need to convince?

You have to consider the team going on the roadshow. We find it best to have two people on the ground who can work together. Ideally you want to have two complementary personalities, such as someone who is detail-oriented alongside someone who is really good on the commercial side.

If it’s your first roadshow or the first one in a new context, you don’t know what to expect. It’s really important you compliment your partner and look like a team. Any roadshow should involve 60% listening and 40% presenting.

It is really helpful to have a local team member who speaks the language and can speak to the local environment.

When possible, have short testimonials or videos prepared representing all the interested parties including financial institutions, schools, and parents. As a sales tool, this helps to get other people to tell the story and it allows everyone to settle in and engage the audience. You need to make sure to share success stories that show impact and how our approach has worked in other countries. It is also key to give them the option to connect with one of our partners who have successfully implemented EduFinance.

4. A GLOBAL PERSPECTIVE: ‘The closer you look the less you see’

Before a roadshow, you should ideally do market research. Field insights are important to be prepared and ready to answer questions. You need to start with a global picture of the market first.

Any local expertise you have should also be translated into an international context. At all times one eye should be on the global perspective and current trends, as well as the specific situation for this financial institution.

Also relating how this global view will work in the local environment is key as it emphasizes trust and shows that you have understood the local country.

5. RELATIONSHIPS DON’T MANAGE THEMSELVES

If your first meeting was virtual – as many of ours were during the height of COVID-19 - make sure you follow up by meeting in-person as soon as you can. An in-person roadshow helps to assess partner commitment. A meeting in the head office also shows how seriously both the EduFinance team and the financial institution is about the prospective partnership.

You need to meet in-person and listen to the challenges they face and what they are doing right. As you develop the relationship you need to provide updates on reassessments of the market and how to improve products they have. Before you leave the room with the partner, agree on the timeline and next steps.

The follow-up is critical. After a roadshow, always send those you met with an outline of the next steps you agreed and then engage with the financial institution weekly to keep progress moving.


To hear more from one of Opportunity EduFinance's financial institution partners, read our recent interview with Arnold Parker, CEO, Letshego Ghana. 

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