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Presented by


Presented by

Humanos marries the mind of business with the heart of humanity.



he Humanos Institute is a not-for-profit start-up dedicated to marrying the mind of business with the heart of humanity to help transform the lives of people living in poor communities. We bring multi-disciplinary

teams from industry, academia, government, and not-for-profit sectors to cocreate innovative, scalable and sustainable solutions to the most pressing problems of our times.

Our vision is to reimagine the world and how we live our lives in it; helping those in need and inspiring people to reconnect with our human values.


We are experts in the Design Thinking methodology, a human-centred approach to problem solving that was born in the innovative culture of Silicon Valley and is being used by long-time innovators like Apple

and disruptive start-ups such as Air BnB. Design Thinking is grounded in the premise that we begin with a deep understanding of the needs of the people of whom we aim to help, and engage with them as equal partners to develop solutions. In this approach, we follow an empathetic loop of asking questions, listening, learning, testing ideas out, getting feedback, iterating, and repeating. In the Design Thinking process, the people and their context is of paramount importance – we don’t show up with preconceived solutions, but instead focus on finding out what truly matters at that time and in that place for the community

with whom we’re working. At Humanos, we have just started to put into motion our vision to reimagine the world and how we live our lives in it. We want to encourage people to reconnect with our human values and instead of focusing on what makes us different focus on our shared humanity. We want to inspire people to redefine what it means to live a good life, where we are able to see beyond our own needs and desires, and take action to help improve the lives of others.




O U R G OA L To immerse ourselves in the community, to understand their hopes and dreams and fears, and to cocreate a solution with them that ushers them into a new era of financial inclusion.

OUR CHALLENGE How might we develop a financial inclusion program that benefits the community as a whole?


WHAT IS DESIGN THINKING? Design thinking is a human-centered approach that starts with the people you’re designing for and ends with new solutions that are tailor-made to suit their needs. It combines human desirability, technological feasibility, and business viability to produce break-through innovation. we are here


UNDERSTANDING E mp a t h i z e | D e f i n e

BRAINSTORMING I d e a te | P rotot y p e

REFINING Te s t | P ro toty p e | Re p e a t



El Naranjo Jinotega, Northern Nicaragua

750 rural men, women, and children

Region of dry mountainous land

175 wood, stone, bamboo, and dirt homes







110 hours of design thinking

“Using design thinking as a template to tackle poverty by creating new innovative solutions and gathering insights from the villages truly gives you a deeper understanding of the problem and thus being able to create a more meaningful solution.� MONICA VOHRA

It all starts with a distinctly human capability: empathy. The ability to understand the people you are trying to help, to be able to feel their feelings, and to be able to see the world through their eyes. That is the cornerstone of Design Thinking and the best way, arguably the only effective way, to understand the problem you are trying to solve. So, as the initial step in our journey, we visited 32 families in their homes. We talked and, more importantly, we listened. This opened a window that allowed us to peek into the minds and lives of the locals, bringing us one step closer to a true understanding of how the locals see life. Working in the context of microfinance, we focused on the behaviours and attitudes concerning financial activities at home, at work, and with financial institutions. We explored what the financial culture in El Naranjo was like, why people used or did not use financial services, and how it affected their ability to prosper. We found seven key barriers to saving and borrowing externally, but the over-arching and underlying barrier was trust. Trust would be the key ingredient to break down any of the barriers.







Trust a firm belief in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of someone or something





Weak Solidarity

Banking Image

“I am afraid I can’t pay back a loan with the money I make.”

“It will be hard to get help if something really goes wrong.”

“I don’t trust the banks to keep their word.”


Financial Façade

“I’m too poor— banks are for people with more money.”

“I don’t think everyone tells the truth about their money.”

“The bank can take advantage of me because they have the knowledge and the money.”


Limiting Assumptions

“Sharing details about my money makes me feel uncomfortable.”

“The banks don’t trust me because I am poor.”

Power Position


Knowledge facts, information, and skills acquired by a person through experience or education

Formal Education

Banking Knowledge

“I didn’t go to school, and I’m not sure I can learn other things.”

“I don’t understand how the bank words and all their rules.”

Tunnel Vision “Farming is all I know.”

Access the right or opportunity to use or benefit from something Physical Costs

Banking Fees


“The cost and time it takes to travel to the bank is not worth going.”

“The bank charges a lot of money monthly to take out a loan.”

“I don’t have a house deed or anything else that the bank will accept as collateral.”


Fear a feeling of anxiety concerning the outcome of something or the safety and well-being of someone

Future Uncertainty “I’m scared I won’t be able to pay back the loan because the harvest changes every year.”

All or Nothing “I don’t want the bank to take my house—it is all I have.”

Additional Burden “I’m worried this will be too much for me to handle.”

Status a person’s standing or importance in relation to other people within a society Fixed Status


“It’s hard to make my life better even though I really want to and try to.”

“I don’t want to be seen as someone who cannot keep his word.



the attitudes and behaviour characteristic of a particular social group concerning personal finances

Unachievable Goals “I want to buy a cow, but it is impossible to save enough money.

Weak Investment Mindset

Weak Saving Habits

“I don’t sell my beans until I need the money to pay for the necessities for my family.”

“I spend more when I earn more, and spend less when I earn less—there is no room for saving.”


possession of the means or skill to keep and store up for future use Mindset

Actual Inability

“It’s impossible to save because everything is so expensive.”

“With three children, we don’t have enough money to save, especially with a bad harvest season.”




Trust: the overarching barrier. Lack of trust not only hinders borrowing and saving, but individual and community development.

Without trust in self, there will always be a perceived inability to change one’s circumstance– social or financial.

Without trust in community, knowledge-sharing will not be commonplace, and the pressure to stay within social status will prohibit collaboration and the betterment of others.

Without trust in banks, fear will persist, and resources will be underutilized and deemed inaccessible.

Trust: the underlying barrier.


These barriers become needs and these needs become the platform for our solution.


I need to trust my abilities and feel that others are trustworthy.


I need to learn more so I can confirm or correct my assumptions.


I need to have access to money for planned and unplanned situations.



I need to have reassurance and protection in uncertainty.


I need to overcome social pressures and limitations.


I need to build financial discipline and a long-term mindset to achieve my goals and dreams.


I need to understand the benefits of and opportunities for saving.

"Coming up with an innovative solution that is sustainable in the long-run is a collaborative effort—only when we co-create together with community members can we achieve truly effective solutions.� PABLO HENNIQUE

The Centro Comunitario del Naranjo will be a purpose built structure where the people from El Naranjo can gather and benefit from the services that it houses, namely the trade school, the financial literacy training, and the co-operative bank. It will act as a central location where the people of El Naranjo can come together, help build a sense of solidarity, increase trust and benefit from the services it provides. The construction of the centre will be carried out by the people from El Naranjo. It is important to make the people of El Naranjo feel that the centre belongs to them by working together, as a community, to build it. The design of the centre could be done by one of Global Brigades Architectural Brigades. Funding would come from external sources. The Centro Comunitario is not only a practical place to carry out services for the community, but is also a powerful symbol of what El Naranjo can achieve when the community comes together to work as one for the benefit of all.


Trade School Workshops that provide men and women an opportunity to learn new skills.


new skill can become a new profession. This helps to diversify income and relieve dependency on agriculture. In a school setting, the community will be learning trade skills together and working together, building solidarity. The goal is to see people collaborate through the school to form a business like a bakery or repair shop.

Through these workshops, people will be empowered individually and as a community.


In El Naranjo, the top expressed desired skills included baking, tailoring, and carpentry. The workshops offered will be catered to the needs and opportunities of each community. Participants benefit by using finished products for personal or commercial use. Not only do they learn new skills, but also earn a source of revenue. These classes could be taught be community members who are experts or by external volunteers. There is also potential to form relationships with local colleges and businesses. The specific details of workshop length, duration, and frequency will be decided during implementation by each community’s preferences.


Chicken Program A program designed to teach the financial essentials to those in most need within the community in simple and familiar terms.


he chicken program will be used as a vehicle to teach the community members concepts like Borrowing, Saving and a Business Mindset, using chicken! Most of the community members are already familiar with and feel comfortable when talking about chicken, eggs and hens. They know the growth cycles, how to take care of them and their value, so why not take advantage of this to introduce new concepts that could otherwise be too intimidating on their own?

This program targets families in most need and individuals who would probably not benefit from having a community bank because of simple fear of the unknown. These individuals could also be identified as the late adopters of the community bank. From their perspective, this program offers a great opportunity to receive some chickens, training and guidance with no upfront cost. Each selected family will receive ten hens and a rooster to start. They will be mentored in the key principles of business, teaching them that these hens are assets that will generate a recurring revenue.

The coaches will work with the selected families to ensure that the hens multiply in a sustainable manner, and any additional eggs will be sold. They will do this enough times until the money earned will be enough to do the following: 

Repay the original cost of the ten hens and the rooster


Save some money in the community bank


Purchase food and a fence for the hens to keep producing eggs


x 10 $


$ $ $

By repaying the original cost of the hens, the families will learn about repayment and interest rates. By saving some money in the community bank they will begin to lose the fear of saving money outside their home. And by purchasing food and a fence they will be reinforcing the long-term business mindset required to get out of poverty.

Overall, the program aims to empower low income individuals by providing them with a new source of income, financial security and initiate a change of mindset within the community, one where long term investment and businesses are the norm.


Community Bank A cooperative owned and run by the community with financial services designed and available for all.


he community center will have a community bank dedicated to providing affordable and accessible financial services to the people of El Naranjo. It will be run by community members elected by their peers from the community. Initially, the community bank will offer savings and loans to individuals. In order to have access to these services, every person will have to go through financial literacy training to get the necessary knowledge in order to understand and maximize their benefit from the banks services. This step is crucial because we realized that


proper financial knowledge, these financial solutions won’t be effective. The loan services will be initially available on an individual basis to all those with some sort of collateral. We recommend interest rates be set at 1% per month to begin with, which is below market rates to encourage engagement and build trust. In the long-run, group loans can be considered and interest rates modified by the executive committee of the bank. The savings services will be available to everyone in the community. We recommend to set the interest rate in line with rates offered by other commercial banks in Nicaragua and higher than the inflation rate.

The success of the community bank will depend on creating a collaborative culture whereby community members feel ownership in the bank and trust in its governance.


Key decisions regarding the process of governing the bank that need to be addressed include:  Length of service for administrators  Process for making decisions such as setting of interest rates for

borrowing and saving and who qualifies for special programs  How to deal with default

1% Loan Interest Rate

Modified Loan Interest Rate



Financial Courses Group classes that provide focused financial education offered concurrently with the bank’s services.


he courses will be simple and friendly. These will be offered in an ongoing basis to the community members, first by external specialists, and eventually by local experts within the community. These courses will cover three main areas: borrowing, saving and starting a new business. For anyone taking out a loan from the community bank the borrowing course will be a requirement. They will learn about what the principal is, interest rates, the terms of a loan, collateral and other concepts. Similarly, the saving course will be mandatory for anyone that choses to open up a savings account. This course will discuss concepts like return on savings, shareholding and the safety of the bank. The business course will be offered for anyone participating in the chicken

program, in one of the workshops or anyone who is interested in learning more about starting a business. Concepts like the value of assets (chickens, pigs, sewing machines, etc.), return on asset, budget allocation, negotiation skills, and thinking beyond the short term will be covered.


The financial courses will be the glue holding the entire financial literacy of the village together. It will strengthen the sense of community in El Naranjo and it will empower its members.

Desirable & Beneficial Skills + Group Training

trade school

Self-Confidence + Collaboration

Tangible Investment Loan + Training + Financial Support

Loans & Savings + Community Location + Training

chicken program

community bank

Self-Confidence + Knowledge + Financial Discipline + Overcoming “Poor� Status

Access to Resources + Self-Confidence + Less Fear

Tailored Curriculum + Practical Application

financial courses

Self-Confidence + Knowledge + Ability to Save

Confidence, growth, and prosperity as a community

“The Centro Comunitario, which includes a co-operative bank, job skills training, and financial literacy training is meant to combine the energies of the community so that together they achieve much more than on their own.� LOREA SAAVEDRA HOFMANN



Thank you. We couldn’t have done it without you. HUMANOS


Niels Billou

Jairo Cortez

Pablo Hennique

Bismark Silva

Matt Smart

Roberto Nicaragua

Stami Zafiriou

Norlan Arostegui

Lorea Saavedra Hofmann

Wilmer Arostegui

Adil Mansouri


Asmae Skalli

Jeannine Glista

Monika Vohra Justina Li

Centro Comunitario  

A financial inclusion solution for Nicaragua

Centro Comunitario  

A financial inclusion solution for Nicaragua