Gender Action Mainstreaming for Empowerment to Change


Women's Rights | Women's empowerment | Working with men | Participation | Wealth Creation | Sustainability |
Rocky Road Framework and Tools| GALS Processes | Diamond Forest | FALS |
Livelihoods | Business | Markets | Value chains | Financial Services | Policy |
Advocacy | Research |

What is FALS?

The Financial Action Learning System (FALS) is a client-led methodology which brings clients and financial service providers (FSPs) together as partners in developing empowering and financially sustainable products and services. FALS adapts simple proven tools from the generic Participatory Action Learning System (PALS) and Gender Action Learning System (GALS) to integrate:
  • product design and market research
  • client financial empowerment
  • social performance management.

What Types of FSP are suitable?

FALS can be implemented in any type of FSP which has an interest in contibuting to client empowerment and development as well as making profits. The tools can be integrated in different ways, with different entry points, depending on an FSP’s existing activities and the capacities and needs of existing and/or potential clients.

FALS can be a stand-alone process. Individual tools can be used on their own, although they are more effective and sustainable as an integrated methodology.

The tools can be used as part of any organisation’s market research process and/or on an ongoing basis by clients themselves as a continual input to participatory product development. They can be used in different ways by staff (eg as part of application processes and/or group facilitation) and/or clients (eg as part of group meetings or self-study/user groups) as an input to Social Performance Management.

They form a client-focused basis for gender mainstreaming linked to promotion of a Gender Protocol for financial services..

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FALS Tools

The core of the FALS methodology is the Financial Planning Road Journey which, on its own or together with the other tools, can be used as the basis for a service contract between FSPs and clients. The Financial Planning Road Journey is progressively developed from a simple Road Journey Tool: the Wealth Creation Road Journey into a sophisticated ‘multilane financial planning Road Journey integrating outputs from other tools.

This is done through using variants of three other intuitively simple tools: Circle Maps, Trees and Diamonds which promote more in-depth analysis and information to put on the Road Journey:
Tool 1: Wealth Creation and Empowerment Road Journey: vision and achievement journey
Tool 2: Financial Opportunities and Challenges Circle Maps
Tool 3: Financial Management Challenge Action Tree
Tool 4: Financial Flow Trees
Tool 5: Financial Planning ‘Multilane Highway’
Tool 6: Financial Sustainability ‘win-win’ diamond

Over time clients can use these same tools with increasing degrees of creativity and complexity as a cumulative reflexive process of client action learning, planning implementation and tracking. The same tools can be used in different ways at different levels, tracked by FSPs over time for product development and value chain development, SPM, monitoring of consumer protection and policy advocacy.

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Stage 1: Preliminary market research and development of champions

FALS aims ultimately to be financially sustainable as a means for cost-efficient recruitment of reliable and sustainable clients and fully integrated into existing FSP activities, particularly application processes and any capacity-building and/or group mobilisation. This will often require a change in attitude and relationship between clients and FSP staff towards mutual respect, mutual learning and ‘win-win’ partnership rather than credit officers teaching, policing and penalising clients.

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Stage 2: Ongoing Financial Action Learning

As a client empowerment process and input to product development is a 1 year consolidation process of capacity building and upscaling through direct and peer capacity building using the pictorial and staff Manuals, client peer training mechanisms and interactions between staff and clients. The aim is to continue to demonstrate the benefits to clients of understanding and tracking their business strategies, achievements and financial flows. The focus on changing gender relations as an integral part of wealth creation and empowerment continues. Clients and staff continue to collect more information as an input to development of empowering products and services and SPM. The methodology is continually reviewed and refined to make it as empowering and sustainable as possible.

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Stage 3: Partnership for empowering and sustainable product and service development

This third stage is about integrating FALS across all organisational activities to make it fully financially sustainable as a relational marketing and product development strategy. FALS is not ultimately a separate ‘project’ or additional cost, but the methodology, empowerment and gender messages are progressively integrated into existing activities. Empowerment and gender justice continue to be mainstreamed in the content and facilitation of all the diagram tools and participatory processes.

Ultimately the Financial Action Learning System produces rich quantitative and qualitative information on livelihoods and gender relations for thousands of people, and also develops participatory structures which become a sustainable input to local economic development, national economic policy, ethical supply chain management and international certification standards. Linked to other civil society and women’s organisations it starts to develop a solid and informed basis for collective action to address the multiple constraints faced by poor women and men.

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