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Amanda K. Lotz
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San Francisco, CA, United States
I am a social enterprise professional, with experience across the international development, nonprofit and technology sectors. A graduate of American University's School of International Service, with a master’s in Social Enterprise, I am fueled by lessons from the iterations, failures and successes of social innovation, and hope to share what I learn with others.
“You think because you understand 'one' you must also understand 'two', because one and one make two. But you must also understand 'and'.” ~Rumi
Hi Danyelle Sage ! Great idea. Financial literacy is certainly lacking for many Americans and there needs to be a national effort to start embedding it into school curricula early on, especially since the research tells us that literacy training doesn't have as much of an effect on behavior change once we reach adulthood. I love that you are considering a behavioral economics approach! While I think many policy advocates in the financial inclusion space are hopeful that this will become nationally mandated, school-based initiative, I think that innovators such as yourself will help accelerate and complement what is offered in schools.
Very creative idea! I like your intention to use gamification as a tool. As contributor Meena Kadria suggested, it would be great if you could create a very rough prototype to share with your target end users. Understanding if these end users are in a rural village in Kenya or a slum in Manila could influence your design differently. Kudos to you for creating a team of 6 people who are committed to this idea. If you are able to engage your end users directly, I think it will really drive your work forward!
I am curious about the delivery format. What are some ideas you are thinking of? How will you test these ideas with end users? To benefit from the gamification concept, what are some ideas to make this a fun or engaging activity?
You may also want to look into behavioral approaches to learning, if the goal is to promote a behavioral and mindset change. For example, there are lessons in the financial inclusion sector about how reminder text messages can be used to influence behavior. In the health field, there are apps that present tips for pregnant mothers. Many of these tools can be applied to basic feature phones, which are becoming more accessible to even the poorest individuals. I would think about how the delivery method can lead to a change in mindset (inclination to support a healthy lifestyle for infants/toddlers), rather than fulfill tasks for financial reward.
I like your ideal of using coordinators and specialists to check in and validate information from families, but this can be cumbersome and time consuming. There needs to be incentive/motivation for field level staff to collect data and, if it is not collected regularly, it may not be telling of the whole story. If the purpose is not to show quantifiable outcomes, but rather promote understanding and behavioral change, there may be less need for regular data collection and use of coordinators/specialists.
Below are some resources (most from another sector) that may inform your thinking. Though, I think it's great for us to learn from other sectors in development!
Consider the format-- it may affect engagement/participation of end users. In this example, it was something as simple as changing a paper application to include a savings plan for the future, to encourage long-term savings goals. However, it was only through speaking with customers that they uncovered the reasons why a new application form was needed. http://ideas42.org/content/Applying-BE-to-Improve-Microsavings-Outcomes.pdf
Clients/Customer will always lie, but the goal could be to get them thinking about how their lives could be different if they change their behavior. A financial inclusion example, to get you thinking: Let's say that customers lie in the ranking of their own financial status. Either way, surveys such as the tool below can be a method to get them thinking and talking about how financial services can impact their lives. http://cfi-blog.org/2014/09/19/the-app-changing-the-way-we-look-at-poverty/