SPTF Newsletter

Your SPM Updates for Feb. 2020                                                                          

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Apply for co-financing for your SPM project!

Do you have ideas for how to upgrade the social performance of your institution? Do you need a boost in your budget to bring your project to life? The SPTF manages three regional SPM implementation co-financing facilities, each of which aims to strengthen the capacity and SPM practices of financial service providers in its region. The facilities cover Africa, the Middle East, Central America, the Caribbean, and Southeast Asia. Keep reading for more info on how to submit a proposal!



SPTF Annual Meeting: Inclusive Digital Future 2020
Yangon, Myanmar

Last month, SPTF and UNCDF announced the dates for Digital Financial Inclusion 2020, a global meeting in Yangon, Myanmar. Due to the spread of the coronavirus and uncertainty about its trajectory, we are postponing the event until further notice. Our thoughts are with those in the global community who are affected.

February 25-27, 2020

Meeting: Global Alliance for Banking on Values (GABV) 
Bern, Switzerland                           

SPTF will meet with key stakeholders at GABV's annual meeting. SPTF and GABV are closely aligned in our beliefs that financial services must bring real value to customers. To learn more about GABV, check out this fun video about #BankingOnValues and view GABV's membership list. To request a meeting with SPTF at this event, email Jurgen Hammer.  

March 1-8, 2020

Fintech Exhibition: CATAPULT: Inclusion Africa 2020

Jurgen Hammer -- SPTF's Director of Europe -- will participate and present at CATAPULT:  Inclusion Africa 2020, which is organized by the Luxembourg House of Financial Technology (LHoFT).

The Catapult program targets companies focusing on financial inclusion in Africa and supports 12 selected firms in developing their businesses and achieving their inclusion goals.

Financial technology is crucial to advancing financial inclusion, but the fastest developing DFS markets  have shown the risks to clients if the industry is not set up responsibly. At Catapult, SPTF will focus on client centricity and value for clients. The session will share learnings and examples in the financial inclusion sector and more recently in  DFS in Africa. The objective of a sustainable industry of fiancial technology is not access alone but needs to be usage and value.

March 11, 2020

Meeting: SPTF Social Investor Working Group
Lisbon, Portugal

The SPTF Social Investor Working Group meeting, which is open to investors only, will be an opportunity to share frameworks and lessons learned in advancing responsible investment in financial inclusion. This year’s event will focus on measuring and reporting on environmental impact, managing outcomes, and the mainstreaming of ESG criteria. 

View the draft agenda. Register today!

Connecting You to the Field

From the Field: Getting the Board on Board

By Nitin Madan

Me: “Are you a responsible financial provider?"
Board Director: "Yes"...(thinking deeper)..."of course" (almost rethinking the affirmation) 

I have had several such exchanges in my interactions as a social performance consultant and advisor to the microfinance sector. During my interactions with senior managers, they candidly admit to the struggle it is to get their BoDs to consider SPM as seriously as they consider financial performance. This is particularly true in countries such as Cambodia, where the sector has witnessed several total buy-outs or majority stake investment by investors with little or no experience in microfinance. What makes the situation grave is that these takeovers have happened in some of the largest and emerging MFIs. 

Why is this relevant? Simply put – the BoD plays a critical role in any organization, including setting the organization culture and direction. If that culture and direction is profit maximization, then the balance between social and financial performance of the financial service provider (FSP) is adversely affected. In all likelihood, client-centricity is also sacrificed at the altar of profit maximization.  

In December 2019, RIFF-SEA, which is managed by the SPTF, and the Cambodia Microfinance Association (CMA) approached me to conduct a one-day workshop to help BoD of various MFIs in Cambodia understand the advantages of balanced performance management. We planned the workshop to help participants identify governance challenges and roles of the BoD. 

Two themes sparked maximum discussion: the idea of managing toward a double (and triple) bottom line has been gaining greater acceptance over the past decade and half. Latest figures show that over 368 MFIs across 73 countries have undertaken 435 SPI-4 audits. As a result, there are enough data points to analyze the links between client-centric practices and profitability and portfolio quality. While data collection processes and analysis are constantly being refined, it is clear that in the long term there is a positive correlation between RIF and portfolio quality. Participants debated the correlation between RIF and profitability too, and concluded that more data (particularly timeframe for such achieving profitability) is required to confirm that over time a  negative correlation can become positive. 

Another area discussed intensely was reporting on social data. Board and management reporting matrices lean heavily towards financial performance. This is a likely result of indicators for measurement of financial performance being more clearly defined than social indicators. We discussed how there are many financial performance indicators that also reflect social performance. For example, what matters more is how ratios such as Return on Assets or Portfolio at Risk are used. It’s important to question whether financial performance benefits investors and funders only or if it has beneficial effects on clients. During the workshop, we used sample reports and indicators to build participant interest and confidence. For several, it was a happy realization that they do collect a lot of "social" data already, and we identified areas where additional data can easily be collected.

Bringing the Board on board with SPM should be, in my view, a primary concern for various microfinance networks globally. As the workshop in Cambodia showed us, many are already working in that direction, but a more structured discussion is often needed to highlight the work already done and build on that systematically. 

Check out a short publication about how to guide your board to manage social performance. And this more detailed guide about your board's social performance management roles and responsibilities.

To learn more about RIFF-SEA trainings and co-financing opportunities, see below. 

Animated resources for teaching your staff and clients about pricing 

Though MFTransparency is now defunct, the organizations resources live on, and we want you to know about one great toolkit in particular. The Consumer Pricing Education Package has been designed for customers with low levels of literacy, education, and numeracy. This is a kit of images brings to life the characters of Auntie Need-a-Loan and Chantal. Accompanying the trainers guide, these images help sessions take an interactive and participatory approach, making them fun and interesting for a number of target groups.


Regional Responsible Inclusive Finance (RIF) facilities 

Apply now for co-financing and trainings! 

SPTF manages three regional SPM implementation facilities, covering Africa, the Middle East, Central America, the Caribbean, and Southeast Asia. The facilities aims to strengthen the capacity and SPM practices of financial service providers in its region. For example, RIFF-SEA is co-financing two upgrade projects in the Philippines designed to improve customer empowerment: one at the financial service provider level – with ASKI – and one at the network level – with MCPI.
ASKI’s upgrade project will use customer journey mapping and segmentation to identify potential points of customer disempowerment, and then it will design mechanisms that address these points.
Meanwhile, MCPI’s project aims to identify the reasons customers escalate complaints to the network level, and where customers may be disempowered from doing so. It will conduct client interviews to better understand the context, such as culture and other external factors, that affect empowerment and disempowerment, and then it will design a framework for a network-level mechanism to improve empowerment, particularly as it relates to client voice.  
If you’re interested in applying for co-financing for an upgrade project from one of SPTF’s regional responsible inclusive finance facilities, see (above/below) for the next application deadline in your region.

  • Responsible Inclusive Finance Facility for Sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East/North Africa (RIFF-SSA/MENA). Learn more about the facility. Next application deadline: 18 March, 2020
  • Responsible Inclusive Finance Facility for Central America and the Caribbean (RIFF-CAC). Learn more about the facility. Next application deadline: 1 May, 2020
  • Responsible Inclusive Finance Facility for Southeast Asia (RIFF-SEA). Learn more about the facility. Next application deadline: 18 March, 2020,



News from the SPTF Community

SPTF's photo page: Can you spot yourself?

SPTF now has a Flickr site where you can check out photos from many of our past events. If you or your colleages have attended one of our events, see if you can find your photo! We will continue to add more photos in the coming months. If you have a photo you'd like us to add to our site, please email us


SPTF Membership

What's even better than membership? Rolling membership!

Announcing a slight change to our new organizational membership program!   We are officially switching to a rolling membership system. Going forward, your annual organizational membership will expire one year from the date you sign up.  (As opposed to having everyone's membership expire at the end of the year.) This system is more flexible, to serve our members' needs better. 

SPTF thanks its paying organizational members

In 2018, SPTF started collecting annual membership fees from its stakeholders. We wish Organizational Memberto recognize our sustaining members, whose partnership and financial support ensure our ongoing operations. SPTF is the only inclusive finance community that spans all industry stakeholders -- and is therefore fundamental to building cross-sectional knowledge, strengthening practitioners, and maintaining the focus needed for industry-wide change. 

To further acknowledge these members, we will be highlighting a few such organizations each month. 

This month, we thank three new sustaining members in particular:

Nordic Microfinance Initiative AS




Swiss Capacity Building Facility (SCBF)



Resources and References

Explore the resources below for tools and guidance to help strengthen your social performance management and achieve your social and financial goals.

Universal Standards for Social Performance Management Technical Assistance Database  Universal Standards Implementation Guide
SPI4 Tool SPTF Guidance Notes SPTF Resource Center
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