What is going on in the microfinance industry? With all of the busyness in our daily jobs, it is sometimes nice to poke our heads up to look around and see what is happening around us. I have been blessed with the ability to do that over the last two weeks and thought I would share some observations starting with the most recent.
Microcredit Summit Campaign: Seal of Excellence
Last week I was able to catch up with Larry Reed over dinner. Many of you will remember Larry as a longtime Opportunity employee and the first CEO of the Opportunity Network way back in 1997. Today Larry heads up the Microcredit Summit Campaign (and I might add Larry is just one example of a distinguished alumnus serving the sector in an important capacity!). Larry is particularly excited about a few things on the horizon including the impending launch of the “Seal of Excellence” that will be unveiled at next month’s Social Performance conference in Panama. Many Opportunity members will be attending that conference so stay tuned for more about this exciting new initiative designed to focus the spotlight on MFI’s which are delivering real opportunities for transformation in their lives of their clients. Those that truly deliver on this promise will be recognized and rewarded by receiving the “Seal of Excellence.”
Financial Inclusion 2020
The prior week I joined the Advisory Board for the Center for Financial Inclusion to review progress toward the goal of broader financial inclusion for all individuals by 2020. Great progress is being made across a number of interventions necessary to achieve the goal of a world in which all citizens have access to a full range of financial services to meet their needs. A major report with recommendations for MFIs and other financial service providers, government regulators, technology service providers, global institutions, academic researchers and others will be issued in time for the Financial Inclusion 2020 conference this October in London. Stay tuned for the recommendations headed our way.
Microfinance CEOs Working Group
Finally, The Microfinance CEO Working Group (affectionally know by its members as the MCWG) met to review some great work showing the impact of client over indebtedness as well as the progress our eight networks have made in piloting programs designed to share knowledge of the benefits – and challenges – of rolling out the Universal Standards of Social Performance.
Both the client indebtedness research and the SPM work were outstanding. The client indebtedness work has some clear implications for the need for and use of credit bureau data and how regulators as well as MFIs might operate to minimize the potential harm to clients from too much debt. The SPM pilot work shows a need to continue to focus and streamline reporting metrics so that the management teams leading MFIs can keep their eyes on the ball of what truly matters. This SPM research work will be published later this month to be shared before the Panama conference and we will be sure to post it on line for your further review. Similarly, the over-indebtedness research should be published next month or shortly thereafter and it too will be posted for your review.
As always, thanks for all you are doing to create a brighter future for the five plus million clients Opportunity is serving all over the world.
If you are seeing something interesting about the future of our industry or sector, please feel free to post a comment here – or contact Mark Kingston and volunteer to write a blog of your own!