A Review of Road Map for the Microfinance Industry: Focusing on Responsible and Client-Centered Microfinance

March 2, 2012

MFP Benedict - Blog.nodeComprised of members representing eight different microfinance organizations, the Microfinance CEO Working Group meets once a month to discuss the challenges practitioners face within the industry and to develop collective responses. In their latest brief they highlight three different microfinance initiatives that are aiding in the delivery of more equitable, transparent and effective microfinance services to clients in developing countries. Read on to learn more about these initiatives and how The Hunger Project’s (THP’s) Microfinance Program is meeting these industry standards.

The Smart Campaign

Endorsed by more than 2,400 microfinance organizations in 130 countries, the Smart Campaign is bringing the protection of the microfinance clients to the fore. In its support for responsible pricing, privacy of client data and mechanisms for complaint resolution, the Smart Campaign is piloting a certification program for the campaign’s Client Protection Principle. In keeping with its emphasis on transparency, evaluations for the certification will be conducted by a third-party.

THP in Action: In its own effort to deliver higher quality microfinance support to program countries, THP is in the final stages of publishing its own internal Microfinance Manual, which will equip THP partners with a set of best practices for ensuring client protection.

Microfinance Transparency

Publishing microfinance loan pricing data for more than 33 million clients in over 28 countries, MFTransparency is committed to providing the public with the resources to evaluate pricing practices, and to educate investors, regulators, and practitioners on the best policies for supporting microfinance markets. Microfinance organizations can submit their pricing data to MFTransparency for publication on the organization’s database.

THP in Action: THP-Benin and THP-Uganda have already submitted data to MFTransparency and have received its “Certificate of Recognition.” Other THP program countries will be encouraged to participate in these national transparent pricing initiatives too, as soon as MFTransparency adds them to their roster.

Social Performance Task Force (SPTF)

A collective effort among individuals from over 600 microfinance organizations, SPTF was formed in support of the idea that the social values behind the creation of microfinance programs should be mappable on to outcomes. Currently SPTF is working to develop a set of universal standards for measurement of program effectiveness, aiding member organizations in setting and meeting their social objectives in the delivery of more quality financial services to a wider array of clients.

THP in Action: Although not yet a SPTF member, THP is also working to develop a set of internal social performance indicators for use in the evaluation of its own program outcomes.

Learn more about these initiatives.

Photo: THP Microfinance Officer Benedicte in Burkina Faso, 2010

Review submitted THP Africa Department Intern, Caroline Peters. She holds a B.A. in Public Policy and Sociology from the University of Chicago and joined THP in Fall 2011 as an Intern in the Africa Department. Before starting at THP, Caroline worked as an assistant on large-scale national and international survey projects run through the Institute for Social and Economic Research and Policy at Columbia University in New York. Overseeing project logistics and grants management, Caroline has worked to implement research projects in Liberia, The Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Uganda.
Caroline Peters Africa Intern