Tamara Cook was appointed the CEO of FSD Kenya in July 2019. She has been with FSD Kenya since 2014 as the Head of Digital Innovations with a focus on using finance to create value for low-income households, women and enterprises. With more than two decades of experience in inclusive finance, Tamara has also worked with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the World Bank’s Consultative Group to Assist the Poor (CGAP), and Equity Bank in Kenya. She has an MBA from INSEAD, a BA in International Affairs from George Washington University and is an Executive Coach.
FSD Kenya’s 2021 annual report covers the last year of the previous strategy and introduces the priorities for the 2022 – 2026 strategy
Kenya’s progress on inclusive financial sector development over the past five years places Kenya at the front of the curve relative to its peers. But beneath its headline success story, falling financial health and growing disparities in financial usage point to underlying challenges that compromise the ability of financial inclusion to deliver on its promise for inclusive and sustainable growth.
I love numbers, charts, infographics and digging into insights, especially from the robust FinAccess survey that FSD Kenya has co-led with the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) and the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) since 2005. Not just because I find it interesting, but because FinAccess is a temperature check for Kenya’s financial inclusion and financial health. FinAccess points us to the questions which remain open about how Kenya’s financial system can deliver on its promise in meeting the needs of the real economy. As we closed 2021 with the FinAccess launch on the 15th of December, I had the honour of sharing some of these initial questions as I reflected on the numbers in my remarks. I look forward to exploring the answers with many across the sector as well as surfacing more questions that can lead us further down the path of a truly inclusive financial system for Kenya.
This research seeks to unearth the financial needs and demands of urban female retail traders in Kenya by exploring how their financial needs are being met, through which instruments, and in turn, where the opportunities lie to drive improved or increased access to financial products.
In Kenya, divergence trends continue with macroeconomic resilience masking sustained inequalities and divergence in recovery. On one hand, inflation remains reasonable; export performance has been relatively strong (especially relative to other African countries); diaspora remittances have been robust; and the mobile money sector has demonstrated sustained resilience and growth.
It is hard to believe it has been more than a year since the first COVID-19 case was confirmed in Kenya, forcing us to make many unanticipated adjustments about the way we worked.
Most significantly, we had to shift to remote working. One year down the line, I am immensely proud of our team for staying the course so far and maintaining our momentum despite the disruption of COVID-19.
On the morning of November 3rd, 2020, I was honoured to be part of the launch of the Year of Climate Action in Kenya (#YoCaKenya).
We were huddled in a routine team discussion at FSD Kenya when we received news of the first confirmed Covid-19 case in Kenya. Like many others, we wondered what this might mean for our work, our families and our country in the days ahead.
Today, I am honoured to represent FSD Kenya at the UK Africa Investment Summit in London. I am inspired by the potential of the entrepreneurs, investors, government officials and civil society organisations who are full of ideas, solutions, and drive to leverage connections and learning across the continent to grow Africa’s economy and wellbeing.
As I reflect on my first month leading FSD Kenya, I am struck by both the challenges we face as well as the opportunities we can seize to truly create value through inclusive finance in Kenya.
For us, Fintech only matters if it is helping Kenyans solve real-world problems or seize genuine opportunities.
A presentation and panel discussion by FSD Kenya on tech-enabled lending in Africa.
On 30th June 2017, M-Akiba, a Kenyan government bond sold through the mobile phone, was launched.
After many years, the involvement of many partners and many iterations, M-Akiba, a Kenyan government bond sold through the mobile phone, was launched in 2017.
“We have been working towards this moment for a long time. With the bank loans just a few weeks away we can see the light at the end of the tunnel.”
Meaningful financial solutions can help poor people manage day to day, deal with risk and invest in the future.
n May 2017, I had the honour of being on a fascinating Euromoney panel about expanding the digital financial ecosystem. One of the many topics that we discussed was the dearth of debt financing available for fintechs and start-ups limiting the potential for scale.
Across Africa, entrepreneurs and business leaders are increasingly aware that hiring top talent is critical to winning in the marketplace. In Kenya especially, technology-driven financial services companies (“fintechs”) struggle to recruit efficiently and effectively: when they post a job opening, they are often inundated with a high volume of applications and selecting candidates feels like a subjective process prone to bias and inconsistency.