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Working Smarter: GDO Treasurers Collaborate

  • By Kathryn Powers
  • Published: 7/31/2017

Faced with limited staff and resources, global development organizations (GDOs) must deliver treasury solutions in some of the most difficult contexts. To compensate, GDOs have learned to work smarter by working together.

Last week, treasury professionals from mission-driven organizations including GDOs, foundations, and universities held their annual conference in Washington, D.C.  Launched by World Vision International, Catholic Relief Services and ChildFund in 2011, the Treasurers Roundtable was founded with a simple purpose—to establish a community to discuss and address shared treasury challenges. 

This year’s conference highlighted the value of improved treasury management through collaboration and information sharing. While many of these organizations are competitors for limited grant funds from donors such as the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Department for International Development (DFID), they convene to tackle the treasury issues they commonly face in complex environments. This year, a new element to the conference was facilitating discussion among financial institutions and treasury service providers on common challenges in serving the GDO sector and finding opportunities to work together.

Specifically, GDO treasury practitioners actively dialogued with banks and service providers around a host of hotbed topics pertinent to effectively operating in emerging markets. Many of these topics, while more likely experienced in the GDO community, are at times encountered by corporations. Some of the key topics included:

Cross-border payments: Payments into developing world countries, if not properly coded and routed, could take weeks to reach their final destinations and have limited transparency in route. GDOs conducted an open dialogue around cross-border payment solutions to mitigate risks and ensure efficient and secure payments to global hotspots.

Digital finance: Capitalizing on dynamic growth in applied blockchain technologies, real-time payments, big data, cloud computing, APIs and AI, as well as a plethora of fintech startups targeting emerging markets, GDOs engaged around evolving solutions and new digital finance offerings.

Bank derisking: Know-your-customer (KYC) compliance is a critical issues for organizations operating in developing countries. GDOs, financial institutions, and bi/multilateral organizations engaged in a vigorous dialogue in how to stem derisking concerns via information sharing and understanding.

Mobile money: As mobile money evolves rapidly, GDOs are at the cutting edge to help launch a digital transformation across the African continent. A leading African bank announced the launch of a sector-wide treasury initiative for collaborative sharing that effectively implements mobile money solutions.

It should be encouraging that GDO treasury practitioners are actively engaging with each other and working with financial institutions to create relevant solutions in difficult contexts. Better treasury management means increasing the effectiveness of donor funds and optimizing impact on communities globally.  

Kathryn Powers is global treasurer for World Vision International.

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