Empowering Others to Lend a Loan

Capital One’s Design Pro-Bono program, AdaptivePath.org, pays off for community partner Kiva, supporting Kiva in the journey to a $100,000 grant from BlackRock.

Kiva is an international non-profit with a mission to connect people through lending to alleviate poverty. Their social enterprise site, CrowdVet.org is an initiative started by Kiva’s Strategic Partnership division to engage non-borrowers with social entrepreneurs by leveraging crowdvetting microloans.

This partnership was part of the Design in Residence program, where Capital One provides collaborative design support for non-profits and social enterprise organizations. Community partners receive hands-on solutions to their highest priority needs that can be acted upon immediately.

Capital One’s design team dedicates their work to designing experiences that empower customers to better manage their finances. Associates here are encouraged to give back to the community. In 2.5 years, the design pro-bono program has connected associates with skill-based partnerships, clocking about 5,000 hours of volunteer time across the US. This March we celebrate our first birthday of the Design in Residence program.

THE RESULTS

Capital One applied human-centric strategies to take Kiva’s CrowdVet.org website platform from “good” to “measurably awesome.”

The team mapped goals for scaling services, and created new processes for gathering and supporting success measurement, empowering Kiva to illustrate the viability of the new website, and ultimately to secure a $100,000 grant from BlackRock.

“After the Design in Residence, our next steps were to incorporate all the insights into the current platform, as well as use the work to give funders a clear vision of what we aim to build with concrete steps on how to keep improving,” said Carlos Pierre, Director of Strategic Initiatives at Kiva.

THE PROCESS

With an already assembled talented team, Jenny Kempson, Design and Program Lead of the Design Pro-Bono Program, jumped right in to lead the project after just a two-week tenure in the role. The aim was to work collaboratively with Kiva to unearth solutions together and provide viable outcomes towards a future vision. “Part of our values is to not only share the skills and methods we use but be open in receiving the in-depth expertise from our organizational partners,” said Jenny Kempson.

The team also had a lot of fun in the process, learning new skills and mindsets from each other. The Capital One team had the opportunity to do things a little differently than their every day work, and polished their skills in ways they were able to bring back to their teams. This process is valuable to Capital One because it gives back to the community twice–first for Kiva’s community, and then again for Capital One’s customers and associates.

Collaboration was key to the success of this project and the strong partnership with Kiva made for outcomes that made everyone on the team proud and excited to carry forward.

“After Design in Residence, I was able to synthesize information faster. Before, I was always in the technicalities, but I realized that the success of the business required a higher-level view,” said Alex Wu, Product Designer at Capital One.

Empathy Interviews, Persona Creation, and Journey Mapping
The team reached out to customers to get feedback on the CrowdVet.org platform as it was. The goal was to understand issues that lead to friction in vetting microloans. Findings included that only 26% of customers returned to vet another enterprise in the set time frame allowing the team to jump into action on how to respond!

The next step was to understand and illustrate the needs around customers’ routines, and to develop four personas for different stages of engagement.

Using the new personas as a framework, the team mapped an experience of what a first-time customer would see when visiting CrowdVet.org. Exploring a series of stages, emotions, and thoughts resulted in creating a successful experience.

Carlos, Director of Strategic Initiatives at Kiva, walks the team through the customer journey.

To many in the group, this process was a new way to review this service and a new tool in Kiva’s toolbox. The sticky note version developed as a team was translated into a digital graphic that the Kiva team could use for building next steps in the strategy toward implementation.

Children’s Story, Hero’s Journey, and Service Storming

One of the most difficult things for anyone who has built a platform with multiple touchpoints is explaining it in simple language. Taking different angles on how to simplify the task at-hand, the team did three exercises to get everyone’s minds flowing. The team talked through the challenges, and broke it out of every day business language, so we could get to the root of the issues.

“These exercises were really helpful to the team. We were getting too deep into technical language, so approaching it from this angle really helped to break it apart,” said Sam King, Visual Designer at Capital One.

Design Time! Sketching, Prototypes, and Metrics

In the critical ideation session, the team created sketches of all the possibilities, concepting different ways to approach solutions. The Capital One Designers were able to take this work back to the office and produce a functional prototype.

Adam Farmer, Senior Designer at Kiva, talks through a sketch

Although not a complete design, the prototype showcased the work in progress. It provided a snapshot of the direction and potential outcome that could be implemented with more time and resources.

Concept image developed in partnership between Kiva and Capital One Design in Residence

In addition, the team provided a set of metrics so future success could be measured against clear criteria, as well as recommendations that could be implemented as soon as we left our last meeting together.

“We wanted to give them something they could do tomorrow,” said Sam. “Kiva had colors and fonts and image styles already, so we used these when developing designs for the CrowdVet style guide making it easy for them to implement it quickly. And they did!”

OUTCOMES

Our strong partnership and the Capital One Design-led workshop resulted in specific artifacts, including an audit of the original site, research on customer needs and desires, new tools and methods for tackling design challenges collaboratively, a working prototype showcasing the team’s design, a comparison metrics guide for testing and validation, and an engagement roadmap for scalability.

Collaboration was key to the success of this project and the strong partnership with Kiva made for outcomes that made everyone on the team proud and excited to carry forward.

“After the Design in Residence, our next steps were to incorporate all the insights into the current platform, as well as use the work to give funders a clear vision of what we aim to build with concrete steps on how to keep improving,” said Carlos Pierre, Director of Strategic Initiatives.

We are so excited to see Kiva take this work further with the generous grant from BlackRock. Congratulations, and thanks for your partnership.


THE PROGRAM

Though we’re not currently accepting designers from outside the organization to participate in our Design in Residence program, we have plenty of opportunities to get involved like the upcoming Social Tables throughout the United States (or you could come work with us!).

Community organizations interested in partnering with us should reach out to us to set up a call. We’ll want to talk about your timeline, scope, and needs, and then see if our design team’s skills might be a good fit!

THE TEAM

Kiva’s team included Carlos Pierre (Director of Strategic Initiatives), Adam Farmer (Senior Designer), Cody Kugler (Strategic Initiatives Intern), and Eric Barker (Crowdvetting Intern).

The Capital One team included Anel Muller (Head of Design Pro-Bono Program), Jenny Kempson (Design Lead of Design Pro-Bono Program), Alex Wu (Product Designer), Sam King (Visual Designer), and Beverly Yang (Design Strategist).


Article written by Dorothy Levin and Jenny Kempson, in collaboration with Lisa Gironda, Anel Muller, Alex Wu and Sam King.