Find out how best you could benefit from the Financing Gateway platform
ITC plans to continue to act as “Super Admin Host” under our contract with the UN International Computing Centre (UNICC) in Geneva for the global database and software application of the Financing Gateway as a Core ITC information tool for “Public Good”. This will allow us to maintain the main platform, its country host platforms and provide some ITC administrative support time to manage upgrades and operational global support. Although our current MARKUP project funding continues until end 2022, the cost of continuing ITC hosting is not dependent on EU project funding. The MSME Financing Gateway has been developed using Open Source tools.
There are two main components to the long-term cost of operating the MSME Financing Gateway:
1. The cost of the Host organisation’s own personnel to maintain the content of the platform, administer new provider registrations, uploads and changes to information made by providers.
2. Technical IT support: ITC has agreed a technical support package with Farwell Innovations, Nairobi into 2023, paid for by its own project funds. After 2023, the cost of the local technical support and a portion of the global UNICC hosting fee may need to be borne by the host organisation or by its sponsors if ITC or the host is unable to onboard a suitable sponsor that would cover operational costs.
In the unlikely case that ITC cannot cover the global MSME Financing Gateway technical support cost, the host organisation may need to assume a modest share of the global fee. Host organisations will be notified at least 60 days in advance of such an occurrence and options can be discussed with ITC. As a guide the cost of such support in 2022 corresponds to approximately of USD 1,400 per annum per host. This covers domain names, a share of UNICC hosting fees, security and system upgrades. The application has been built on Open Source software to which ITC has direct access.
We are in discussion with a number of potential national and Pan-African institutional “Sponsors” for covering the long-term costs of maintaining the platform. It is also possible that a donor may decide to pick up the relatively modest cost of maintaining the Gateway. In any event, hosting should cost no more than any current arrangement that a host has for its organisation’s existing Internet site.
You will have received an outline on-boarding plan with the letter confirming acceptance of your organization as a host. At this point host organisation’s should nominate a responsible person in their organization to manage the on-boarding and go-live process and a small technical team of about 4 people for ITC and the programmers’ to interact with (Marketing, Operations, Communications, IT). ITC and Farwell Innovations will need to know who should be briefed and trained in the process of financing and service provider registrations and content management. The ITC team will be in touch with the nominated team to fix a timetable for on-boarding, data verification and go-live.
In most countries where the Financing Gateway is operational the national bankers’ association has become a sponsor or key implementation collaborator because of their knowledge of and contacts with both banks and other registered financing providers. ITC is ready to assist host organisations in reaching out to collaborators and sponsors to encourage registration, promotion and usage of the platform.
Within the ToR, you will see there is one clause that requests a country host not to sell private personal data gathered through the platform – ITC does not propose to commercialize the MSME Financing Gateway or the SME Access to financing guide but is actively discussing potential global sponsorships and donor support for the future. Our intention is for the platform to remain free to use and impartial as a “global good”.
ITC owns the platform and its intellectual property.
The selection of a Country host is independent of the EU-funding for the MARKUP project. A profile of typical host organisations is available on request along with an Expression of Interest form for all potential hosts to complete by e-mailing email@example.com and writing HOSTING APPLICATION in the subject line. Hosts are normally not-for-profit or membership national apex organisations that represent MSMEs, the private sector, banks, financing or business development support service providers. A potential host should have experience of maintaining the content of their own web site and registrations. At least two people will need to be designated to monitor and administer the MSME Financing Gateway back-end dashboard for about 2 hours per day. ITC plans to continue as a “Super Hosting” of the platform in association with the UNICC.
On-boarding by a host organisation should not demand much time or resources from a Host that already manages the content of an existing Internet site with membership registrations. In some countries ITC donor-funded projects may support the cost of setting-up and implementing the MSME Financing Gateway. Enquire to ITC through: firstname.lastname@example.org to find out what we can do in your country – mention “Financing Gateway Set-up” in the subject line of your e-mail.
ITC will help hosts with publicity and sensitization, particularly around “Go Live” events with – Reasonable associated costs are normally covered by an ITC project. At the same time, the ITC Communications and Events team can provide web and media publicity for the host. Other project partners will be contacted to offer support to the country host as well.
ITC will support a promotional campaign that will be defined with the host organisations, country contributors and institutions for each MSME Financing Gateway launch. Some of these activities are budgeted within ITCs project funds. In some countries government agencies and MSME organisations make contributions in kind for the platform’s promotion and visibility. Promotion may be linked with other regional or national activities
Before a public launch, we will need to notify financing and business development support providers and provide them with access to their data to verify its completeness, accuracy and upload documents to the Platform. Hosts and other collaborators in this process, like a bankers’ association, will receive a short “Data verification guide” from ITC with instructions to pass on to their members. This activity also serves as part of the on-boarding training for the Administrator and Content managers in the host organization. Data verification is a semi-automatic process. Follow-up by telephone and e-mail is foreseen to collect ensure authenticity of applicants and quick responses. Registration is a one-time exercise. Once the platform is “live”, providers can update the information displayed by access through a one-time password process and easy-to-use templates.
The configuration of the analytical reports of users, user activity and click throughs to bank and financing providers Internet sites is a “Work in progress”. During the first 3 months of full operation the host organization and Bankers’ Association will review the data available from the platform and develop some initial reports. These reports and the list of data points will be shared with financing and business development services providers for initial comment. ITC proposes to organize a series of Focus Groups then to create standard report formats and levels of access to export raw anonymized data.
Data is fully indexed, backed-up by natural language indexing and search support. Analytics captures search criteria used, filters applied, the number of times that key words are used and users’ subsequent click through journeys. reports capture number of times each key word used and their click through journey.
ITC and the Bankers’ Association will ask bank contributors to review their Google or Internet analytics reports to track what happens to MSME Financing Gateway Users landing on their Internet site. For example: How long do they stay, do they click further, complete an application form, reach an agent, or even eventually find financing (client conversion).
Filter terms are provided to banks and other financing providers when their application for registration is approved. The Host and Bankers’ Association will work with banks to fine tune filters and also the descriptions provided on the Gateway so that matching with Users needs is optimized – this is an interative process called “Hit rate optimization”.
The person authorized to make changes to information displayed on the MSME Financing Gateway should seek any internal approvals required before submitting a change to the MSME Financing Gateway. The Administrator sees the change on their Dashboard and may quickly review it for obvious typographical errors or malicious content before it is displayed.
The Technical Support Contract normally runs for at least 12 months after the initial “Go Live” and can be extended by a host organization or by ITC if its funding permits. The technical support contract is currently with Farwell Innovations of Nairobi and a copy will be provided to hosts. The contract covers fixing “bugs”, system upgrades, functionality errors, operational faults and accessibility requirements.
Before creating an account, you will have access to a limited list of financing providers and financing instruments by clicking on the Search for Financing Options button on the Home page banner. Alternatively, you may find financing providers and financing instruments by selecting Find Financing Options from the main menu.
To access the full list of MSME Financing options and Financing Providers, one needs to register and fill their business profile. This also unlocks the opportunity for you to filter financing and business development services that based on your business registration profile.