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REQUEST FOR EXPRESSIONS OF INTEREST: Enhance women's digital financial inclusion

With the financial support from the African Development Bank under the African Digital Financial Inclusion Facility (ADFI) program, M-KOPA seeks to improve its DFS offerings for low-income women entrepreneurs, specifically owners of micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in Kenya, to enable them to grow and sustain their businesses.


Request for Expressions of Interest From Tech Hubs and/or Research Firms to ideate, prototype & validate solutions that will enhance women’s financial inclusion through digital financial services (DFS)



M-KOPA is an African fintech company, whose mission is to make financing for everyday essentials accessible to everyone.

M-KOPA’s target customers are unbanked or under-banked and struggle to save up or access credit. They are part of the over 500 million financially excluded adults in Africa who are unsalaried and lack access to a bank account and/or credit. Traditional lending shuts them out with requirements like collateral, credit scores, and guarantors.

M-KOPA offers fair and flexible financial services that work for the traditionally excluded. Our financial offerings are designed for their realities, tested, and improved through a decade of experience in 5+ countries, and proven through the successful repayment of millions of customers.

While M-KOPA started with solar home system financing, now most customers start their M-KOPA journey with financing for a smartphone. Instead of having to pay in full and upfront for the smartphone, M-KOPA allows customers to buy it over time by paying an initial deposit followed by daily micro-installment payments for usage. M-KOPA also offers customers access to other digital financial services (DFS) including digital loans, and insurance products.

M-KOPA is on a journey to expand and improve its portfolio DFS offerings available via the M-KOPA app on customers’ smartphones. And particularly, M-KOPA aims to develop DFS products that are suited to the specific needs and preferences of its women customers.


With the financial support from the African Development Bank under the African Digital Financial Inclusion Facility (ADFI) program, M-KOPA seeks to improve its DFS offerings for low-income women entrepreneurs, specifically owners of micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in Kenya, to enable them to grow and sustain their businesses.

This initiative implemented by M-KOPA aims to 1) gain better understanding of the barriers to and opportunities for women entrepreneurs’ access to digital financial services and financial literacy programs in Kenya and 2) use the research insights to design and validate DFS products that are relevant to small-scale women entrepreneurs.


M-KOPA is looking to partner with a technology company that has experience in designing digital products which include digital financial services that cater to low-income African consumers. As bridging the gender divide is crucial to this project, we are specifically looking for an organization that is experience in incorporating a gender lens throughout the design process. We are also looking for an organization that would employ human-centered design methodologies during the research and design phase of the DFS products.


Design and validate effective savings and transaction products that M-KOPA’s customers want and will use in the M-KOPA app. The work will include:

1. Review of M-KOPA’s relevant research and product insights to date to inform product design.

2. Iterative development, testing and design validation of at least three prototype iterations of the above products. The product design will include proposed commercial terms.

3. Testing will take place with 100 women in Kenya. Selection and engagement with these women will be facilitated by M-KOPA.

4. Reviewing M-KOPA’s existing “business as usual” loan criteria and highlight opportunities for adjustment to drive deeper financial inclusion for women.

Deliverables will include:

1. Detailed clickable prototypes (i.e., Figma files)

2. Videos of design validation with customers (i.e., Lookback, Maze)

3. A written report that summarizes the prototypes developed, and testing and design validation conducted with 100 women; with clear insights and recommendations to M-KOPA to pilot and scale the products. This report will be presented to M-KOPA and ADFI.


Schedule: February 2024 – June 2024 (15 weeks)

Location: Kenya, with user testing taking place across four counties (Nairobi, Machakos, Kisumu, Eldoret)

Budget: Total budget ceiling of $130,000. This is inclusive of all costs incurred during the project, including user testing costs (e.g., travel, testing facilitation, etc.).


Applicants must meet the following criteria:

• Be based in an African market.

• Have prior experience designing digital products (ideally including financial services) for low-income African consumers and incorporating a gender lens throughout the design process.

• Experience researching and designing financial services products.

• Experience with human-centered design methodologies.



Interested candidates are invited to submit the following documents by 12th January 2024 to [email protected].

1. An expression of interest response outlining your high-level approach and methodology to the scope of work in Word with a single point of contact in your organization for all correspondence.

2. A summary of your organization's experience in delivering digital financial services products that are tailored to low-income African women.

3. A high-level budget reflecting the activities outlined in your EOI.

4. A short profile of the proposed team clearly outlining relevant experience in delivering DFS products.


12th Jan 2024 - EOI Submitted

19th Jan 2024 - Candidates short-listed and RFP issued

26th Jan 2024 - Deadline for submitting RFP clarification questions. Please submit all questions in one email.

16th Feb 2024 - Deadline proposal submission

19th – 21st Feb 2024 - Application review and shortlisting for interviews

23 d – 27th Feb 2024 - Candidate Interviews

29th Feb 2024 - Final decision made and reward

15th Mar 2024 - Contracting finalized 20th Mar 2024 Kick-off meeting and Contract start date. To achieve alignment of purpose and objectives, agreement of success and roadmap, agreement on interfaces, risks and mitigations, agreement on action plans.


Step 1: Expression of Interest Submission documents:

• Expression of Interest response.

• High-level budget.

• Summary of organizational experience in designing, implementing, and delivering DFS products for low-income African women.

• Short profile of proposed project delivery team clearly outlining relevant product and software development experience.

Step 2: M-KOPA’s Review & Approval Evaluation criteria below:

• Technical competency and qualifications.

• Experience delivering DFS products that cater to low-income African women.

• Budget. Step 3: Proposal Submission (RFP) Submission documents:

• Response to RFP

• Detailed workplan

• Detailed implementation budget.



Weighting Technical competency and qualifications relevant to the proposed assignment - 30%

Experience delivering similar assignments successfully (development and testing of software products using HCD and agile ways of working) - 30%

Proposal value for money (cost effectiveness) - 20%

Experience developing software products for customers in African Development Bank (AfDB) member markets - 10%

Experience working with financial tech companies and AfDB - 10%


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