Ten years of digital learning!

After a decade of successful trade finance training, we look back on what we’ve achieved and how we can continue our success in the future

Back in 2010 the EBRD was the first international financial institution to digitalise its technical assistance for trade finance on a large scale. The initiative has been hugely successful and continues to be a vital part of the Bank’s Trade Facilitation Programme.

Funded by the EBRD Shareholder Special Fund, the e-Learning Programme was designed by the EBRD together with the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) and Coastline Solutions to help issuing banks achieve best international practice through specialised courses.

Demand is high among our partner banks, who enrol over 1,000 staff annually and, as of May 2020, the e-Learning Programme had over 9,000 alumni from 400 organisations in 30 countries.

So what has been our recipe for success? And how can we ensure our other programmes reach thousands of participants and continue to make an impact, even a decade later?

Filling the gap

For international commercial contracts to be completed successfully, it is key that ICC trade rules are correctly interpreted and applied. But courses on applying these rules and best practices were not readily available on local markets.

So we stepped in and filled the gap with the e-Learning Programme, complementing the hands-on experience of staff in EBRD partner banks. The Programme also provides a community in which graduates collaborate to address challenging issues, prevent fraud and share knowledge. What is more, each year the Programme awards up to 800 students a 100 per cent scholarship to enable access to local market knowledge, regardless of financial abilities.

Applying modern technology

With the Trade Finance e-Learning Programme we digitalised the full cycle of learning. Through the Flip, as it is known in Silicon Valley, students on the Programme can “attend” their lectures online, progressing at their own pace, take the online examination at the end of the course and receive their certificate of completion electronically.

Studying online, on a smart phone or on a tablet, students can review part or all of a lecture/module several times if they need to in order to understand a subject written in English – a language that is probably not their native tongue.

In addition, the most popular modules have been translated into local languages, such as Russian, Arabic, French, Mongolian and soon Albanian, to achieve a wider reach. As needed, the TFP team arranges targeted face-to-face training workshops with well-known consultants who can address any areas that were perhaps not well understood during the online training.

Recognising talent and offering opportunities

Our e-Learning Programme has shown itself to be the most successful addition to the Bank’s capacity-building toolbox, reaching out to thousands of trade finance managers in our regions.

The best-performing graduates get special recognition and unique internship opportunities with top international commercial banks such as Commerzbank, KBC Bank Belgium, Banca Popolare di Sondrio, Bank of China and Deutsche Bank, as well as the ICC. We have seen that great internship opportunities motivate students to complete their studies with top marks.

In addition, our industry-renowned graduation ceremonies attract more than 300 participants, including top management and international experts.

Taking different stakeholders into account

The e-Learning Programme has great benefits for employees working from home. Students in Georgia and Ukraine highlighted that if it weren’t for enhanced qualification through our e-Learning Programme, their return to work after one year of maternity leave could have been associated with lower positions or decreased responsibilities. These female professionals had the opportunity to keep their positions and upgrade their qualifications by completing their studies in a flexible way.

Amidst the Covid-19 pandemic, the EBRD Trade Finance e-Learning Programme remains a vital tool in delivering trade finance know-how to bankers so they can competently deal with major international trade disruptions. We are seeing record demand from our partner banks for online education as a way of retaining staff that were sent home but could not be connected to the remote systems.

A win-win solution

The e-Learning courses offer students an in-depth understanding of underlying operational and legal matters under the various trade finance instruments. Issuing banks are equipped with the skills to expand their trade finance business, formulate more specific questions to the TFP team, and apply the concepts they have learned to everyday operations. This, in turn, allows the TFP to tailor or improve the courses, when needed, in order to better target trade, enable better use of products and create a better understanding of the risks involved in trade finance.

We are confident that innovation, digitalisation and remote working will increase after the Covid-19 pandemic has passed, and that the EBRD Trade Finance e-Learning Programme is well equipped to accommodate this new way of doing business and learning.

Demand is high among our partner banks, who enrol over 1,000 staff annually and, as of May 2020, the e-Learning Programme had over 9,000 alumni from 400 organisations in 30 countries