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MDevF student says the programme ‘has opened a whole new world’ for her

  • June 24, 2020
  • Tags Development Finance, alumni, experience, journey, MDevF, growth, research

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By Andisani Masindi

I started the MPhil in Development Finance programme in 2019. I was excited to have been admitted into the programme. I wanted to use this programme as an opportunity to venture into something new which I had recently developed an interest in but had no idea where it would take me or what the opportunity looked like. I have worked in various industries, but this felt like one of the biggest risks I had ever taken. The main reason was that it was a completely new career direction and not all the steps of what I would do after completing the programme were clear.

I spent a good two years doing extensive research on development finance to make sure it was the right path. With everything else I had pursued before, the research was not as comprehensive but would get into the opportunity half ready with the thrill of exploring something new and a new challenge driving me. I have always liked new adventures when it came to my career. I would get bored quickly after I had engaged with the content enough for my brain to want to move on to another topic or area. And this is what I feared going into this programme: what if I get bored again, having boxed myself into a form of specialisation, or something so different from everything else I was doing?

…I am convinced now than ever before that it is a different programme than I envisaged.

However, this experience has been different. It feels different in that I am convinced now than ever before that it is a different programme than I envisaged. The first day I sat in the classroom when the head of school was delivering a welcome message, I felt something inside of me change. There was a shift in perspective. I felt a jolt of energy inside me that I had not felt before. I started thinking about the new information I was about to consume. There was also a confirmation and affirmation I felt in my heart. I started to believe that I was at the right place and that this was where I needed to be. All the doubt and confusion I felt before was gone! The rest of the days in class continued to confirm what I had felt on that first day. Part of the learning was that the content I was learning was exactly what I needed to learn for my next mission in life. The assumption that the programme would box me into something else was no longer valid. I had a stream of ideas coming into my mind regarding what I could do with what I was learning, all spanning across different areas. The learner in me got activated, and every subject matter excited me. These were all new experiences and it felt like a whole new world was opening up just like how I feel whenever I travel to a new place.

The way the course was delivered encouraged innovation and allowed me to interact with the content in different ways.

The learning experience was profound. The way the course was delivered encouraged innovation and allowed me to interact with the content in different ways. Every discussion was eye-opening and the diversity of the class with representation from the different African countries contributed to a rich experience. It has been a growing enriching experience which cannot just stop when the course ends. It is something that will continue to engage most of who I become. It will also lead to something good coming out of it, including developing something, creating products, and making a tangible difference, while also being different, being more me.

Now I can create and develop a product which will have an impact on Africa.

I like to create and develop new things. The writing assignments made that possible. The students are given a topic to research, identify existing challenges, and create a development finance solution whether from a policy perspective, innovative finance or economic development perspective. To me that presented an opportunity to build and create solutions, dream of better scenarios, and imagine better situations. Right now, I am about six months away from graduating (fingers crossed) and I am excited about my next path. Now I can create and develop a product which will have an impact on Africa. I was worried that choosing this path might mean losing out on all my previous experiences, and that I would have to start from scratch. Now I see that all the experiences I have accumulated on my career journey will contribute to the path I plan to take. They will help enrich me and develop and create new solutions to address the current social and developmental challenges in Africa.

With this research I hope to pave the way for further research into the area and to create an innovative financing product to solve social and developmental challenges…

One area I am particularly interested in at the moment is the water sector. My research focuses on exploring the use of Social Impact Bonds to finance the reduction of water losses in municipalities.  The water that has been fed through the distribution system but has been lost through leaks in the distribution system or has not been billed or accounted for, in technical terms defined as Non-Revenue Water (NRW). In developing countries, on average more than 30% of the water is lost through NRW enough to serve approximately 200 million people a day. Given that water is a scarce natural resource and there is approximately 329 million people in Africa with no access to water (World Bank Development Indicators), there is a massive social and financial benefit to reduce water losses. With this research I hope to pave the way for further research into the area and to create an innovative financing product to solve social and developmental challenges similar to challenges within the water sector.

I am thrilled to have taken this journey and I look forward to exploring the new path!

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