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So, what is an unconference?

Updated: Aug 28, 2019

For many, or most, participants at the African Fintech Unconference, this will be the first time attending and participating in an unconference style event.

With that in mind, we’ve put together a brief blog explaining what an unconference is, and more importantly, what you can expect at the African Fintech Unconference.

So, what is an unconference?

An unconference is an open, participant-driven event.

An unconference is designed to enable rapid exchange of information and ideas, provide a space for conversations that matter and foster the development of collaborative relationships. The content is proposed and provided by the participants, and is often determined on the day of the event.

The premise behind the unconference idea is that the sum of the expertise of the people in the room is greater than the sum of the expertise of the people on stage. The African Fintech Unconference is about empowering participants to share their expertise.

Three key points to keep in mind at the African Fintech Unconference:

  1. Go with the flow – This event is intended to help you and all the other participants find the time and space to talk with, and learn from each other.

  2. Follow your passion – Go to the sessions that interest you.

  3. Take responsibility for your own learning – If there are topics you are really interested in that don’t appear on the agenda at first, you need to put them on there.


The unconference format creates space for peer-to-peer learning, collaboration and creativity.

At the start, the entire group will gather together and be guided through creating an agenda relevant to the theme of the event. The exact process is not important to understand in advance – the process will become clear as it happens. The important part is that everyone will have the opportunity to put breakaway sessions on the agenda. No session will be voted off or ‘won’t happen’ for some other reason - all sessions are welcome. It is organic, dynamic, a little messy, and a lot of fun!

The sessions convened can range from the formal to the informal, from the well thought out pre-prepared talk reflecting years of research and practice to the spur of the moment ‘new idea’ that would be fun to talk about. These sessions give participants the opportunity to have an unfiltered exchange of innovative ideas.

Everyone is encouraged to take part in hosting at least one session. No one is going to come around and make sure you did, but this is a give and take experience where everyone’s input and insights are appreciated.

The African Fintech Unconference differs slightly in style from a traditional unconference in that there will be a few pre-arranged expert-led sessions, in line with the theme of the unconference ‘Fostering Partnerships for Advancing Digital Financial Inclusion'.

However, the majority of the agenda is left open, to allow for the informal exchange of information and ideas between participants, rather than follow a conventionally structured programme of events. This is the opportunity to share with and learn from your peers in a fun and relaxed setting.

Keep an eye on the next blog post which will explain more about what to expect from breakaway sessions and how to go about convening a session.

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