CABFIN stands for "Improving Capacity Building in Rural Finance". The idea of the project resulted from discussions between FAO, IFAD, GTZ, DFID, CARE International and NRI. These organisations felt that people working in projects, NGOs and financial institutions were not able to make the best use of the resources and experience in promoting financial services in rural areas that had been accumulated over the years because it was not easy to find out what was available and how to get it. The debate was widened to include the World Bank, IADB, USAID, CGAP and the Regional Agricultural Credit Associations and two field studies were carried out in India and Nigeria to assess the problems and demand for materials to support capacity building.
The result was an agreement to develop an internet-based resource to bring together available material, organise it and make it easy to download or order. This has led to the creation of the Rural Finance Learning Centre (RFLC) which has been publicly available since April 2004. The software which underlies the Rural Finance Learning Centre has been developed specifically by FAO to promote access to documents and other materials from a "community" of users. It is known as Community Directory Server or CDS. The content can be managed by a decentralised editorial team and registered "members" of the system can contribute new knowledge and suggest new topics. The knowledge is organised and accessed through different gateways within the site.
The goal of the CABFIN Project is:
To promote and facilitate capacity building in rural finance with a view to increasing the availability and effective use of sustainable financial services in rural areas and, thus, contribute to improved livelihoods and reduced poverty among rural based households.
The specific objectives that have been developed are:
- To develop and maintain a sustainable, internet-based Learning Centre which meets the needs of rural finance organisations and advisers for staff development and training resources.
- To search for and select the most useful capacity building materials from around the world to be included in a database of resources and to develop new materials to fill identified gaps.
- To develop on-line lessons for individual self study and recommended training curricula with detailed session guides on topics that are identified by users as most suitable for their capacity building needs.
To promote the use of the Rural Finance Learning Centre through active networking and liaison with training providers, donor organisations and practitioner networks.
Developing a user network:
The CABFIN Project is aware that the success of the Rural Finance Learning Centre depends on the extent to which it is used. The majority of users are expected to be individuals who are either aiming to improve their own personal knowledge and skills or are planning to use the material to inform or train others working in their organisation.
It is also expected, however, that some organisations will become suppliers of rural finance training which is based on the experiences, innovations and better practices that will be featured in the Rural Finance Learning Centre. To this end recommended curricula will be developed that cater for a variety of users and will range from introductory material for donors and policy-makers to more detailed “how to” training for financial service organisations and providers of rural business advice services. A network of training partners will then be established who can deliver this material in workshops or as part of educational courses in colleges and training institutes. Negotiations are underway with Freedom from Hunger to pilot the development of training partners for the CABFIN project.
Another way the CABFIN Project expects a user network to develop is through donor organisations promoting the use of material that is hosted in the Rural Finance Learning Centre to their local partners in developing countries. To make this process effective additional donor organisations will be encouraged to become partners in the CABFIN project and help to ensure that its content in terms of capacity building resources in rural finance meets local partner requirements.
The CABFIN Project aims to create a forum for coordination and dialogue among donors, technical agencies and practitioners involved in rural finance research and development. An informal working group looking at Rural Finance has already been active among the donor community and CABFIN plans to play an increasing role in facilitating this dialogue and developing donor training materials in rural finance.