SPTF Newsletter

January 2021                                                                                        

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Moving into 2021 with hope

The social motivation of our sector was on full display throughout 2020. With flexibility and determination, the global financial inclusion community worked to salvage the livelihoods of millions of clients. 

With the support of donors, SPTF reacted quickly to the changing needs of our community in 2020.  Based on close consultation with our members, SPTF crafted a meaningful COVID response that will continue into 2021. Here are a few highlights from last year, and a glimpse into what we want to accomplish with our partners (that's you!) in 2021.

2020: Solidarity in a crisis

  • Last year, we worked with FINCA and 60Decibels to develop and deploy the COVID-19 Client Interview Tool. Over 30,000 client interviews were conducted with 35 FSPs across the world. The tool has generated insights that are crucial for the recovery phase. Explore 60Decibels' interactive dashboard and SPTF's takeaways from investors and FSPs
  • Our Social Investor Working Group came together in an impressive way! More than 200 investors came together to share investor and DFI frameworks for COVID response, discuss emergency liquidity facilities, revise responsible covenants to address COVID, and promote implementation of the SPM Crisis Checklist. To join the Social Investor Working Group, email Katie Hoffmann.
  • SPTF's Responsible Inclusive Finance Facilities for SSA/MENA, SEA, and LAC adapted to the crisis by quickly approving emergency applications for social programs, such as protective equipment for FSP employees and clients, and longer-term projects to expedite the adoption of digital financial services. Find out more about co-funding through the facilities.

2021: Client-centered recovery

  • Even in the midst of the COVID crisis, over 150 people volunteered their time to review the Universal Standards and provide input on how they can be improved. As part of SPTF's regular revision process (the last one was 2016), we are taking the industry's feedback and revising the Universal Standards this year. In the next version of the standards, you can expect to see more content on the environment, human resource development, and more. SPTF will also offer a Universal Standards Implementation Series on the 2021 version of the Universal Standards.
  • SPTF's closer partnership with CERISE will continue as we work together to bring new client protection initiatives to our members. With the Smart Campaign now closed, we are pushing forward with new options for FSPs to improve their client protection practices, including ways for FSPs to communicate progress with investors. For now, you can find key CP resources here.
  • In 2021, SPTF will increase our focus on developing resources and tools to help financial inclusion stakeholders measure, analyze, and improve client outcomes. This will include developing trainings on how FSPs can leverage existing data, as well as continually aligning with impact investing initiatives focused on outcomes. To learn more about our Outcomes Working Group, email Amelia Greenberg.

SPTF welcomes four new board members in 2021!

SPTF is thrilled to welcome four new board members in 2021. Find out more about these stakeholder representatives and our other board members here


Thank you: Over 150 people provided feedback on the Universal Standards

In keeping with international best practice, SPTF reviews the Universal Standards every 3-5 years, so that they continue to reflect the sector’s latest understanding of best practice.

In 2020, our team collected feedback from over 150 people across every region of the world. SPTF is using this input to revise the current (2016) version of the Universal Standards--a process that will result in updated standards in 2021.

SPTF sincerely thanks each person who took time to answer our survey, participate in an interview, or provide feedback at an in-person event. You have made this work possible, and the entire industry will benefit from your effort. 
APR Estimation Tool: Video tutorial and trainings 

Calculating the Annual Percentage Rate (APR) expresses the true price of a loan, which is a key step in pricing products responsibly. However, calculating the APR remains daunting for some FSPs and social auditors.  

That's why CERISE developed a two-video tutorial to guide you through the process. The videos explain the basics of APR and walk through the process of using the MFT APR calculator. Access the video tutorials in: English, Spanish, and French.

More good news: CERISE overhauled the Excel-based SPI4 APR Estimation Tool to make it easier to use. Check out the improved APR Estimation Tool (choose from English, French, Spanish, or Portguese on the Introduction tab). 

CERISE will also hold online webinars early 2021 to discuss with you how to use the tool and APR to assess responsible pricing of an FSP in a social audit. Email Snezana Jovic to sign up.

 Join a new initiative to strengthen human resource management in microfinance 

The e-MFP Human Resources Action Group invites you to participate in a new Human Resources Management (HRM) initiative. The action group has developed a survey for financial service providers to understand their current state of HR practice and gain insight into alternative approaches that contribute to social and financial performance.

This survey is for all institutions who are serious about cultivating talent and protecting and benefiting their employees. Completing the survey will take about 90 minutes--you will be asked to reflect on your current HRM practices and be introduced to new ideas for how to do things better. e-MFP will share the global (anonymized) data from the entire survey response, so that you can compare your organization’s performance to the global benchmarks and identify areas of strength as well as opportunities for improvement. 

Interested? Watch a 4-minute video about this initiative in English or French.

Ready to go? Take the survey in EnglishFrench, Spanish, or Russian.

This initiative is part of a broader effort by the e-MFP HR Action Group to develop standards and benchmarks for human capacity development. By participating in this survey, you are assisting in their effort to bring awareness and resources to the area of human capacity development in microfinance. 

Collaborating partners: SPTF, MFC, TripleJump, Incofin, ADA, ILO, and Academy of German Cooperatives

Support SPTF in 2021

SPTF did not solicit annual membership fees in 2020, as it was a difficult year for many.  However, we absolutely rely on your support!

If you found value in what we were able to provide in 2020 and want us to continue our work, please consider purchasing annual membership in 2021!



Social Investor Working Group 

Based on demand from our Social Investor Working Group members, we will be holding webinars monthly during 2021. The next call will take place on Wednesday, January 20 from 10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. EST. Joining information for the call, which is open to investors only, can be found here.

On the call, we will:

  • Finalize investor input regarding the future of client protection products. Since the Smart Campaign announced its closure in July, the SIWG has been focusing on how to advance client protection practices going forward. Investors saw the closure as an opportunity to redesign client protection tools, such as client protection endorsement and certification, and many of our recent calls have focused on how to structure these going forward. This call will be an opportunity for investors to present their final input on client protection tools.
  • Discuss next steps for helping FSPs analyze COVID client data. Many investors joined SPTF's investor and FSP roundtables in November, which focused on the ways different client segments have been affected by COVID, as well as how investors and providers can build a strategy around these client insights. On our upcoming SIWG call, we'll discuss concrete next steps for investors stemming from these discussions.

If you missed any of our previous calls, you can by reading the briefs and listening to the recordings on the SIWG webpage. Contact Jurgen Hammer or Katie Hoffmann with any questions

Celebrating our contributing members


FINCA Impact Finance
Yemen Microfinance Network

SPTF Members: Responsibility in Action

  • ECLOF has made sure that 16 schools in the Dominican Republic could reopen this year.  Due to COVID, schools there were facing the dual issues of families in crisis unable or hesitant to pay school fees for a shortened year, plus the high cost of supplies and training needed to switch to virtual classes.  ECLOF made sure these schools got the support and funding needed to proceed.
  • Pamiga continues its good work showing how small loans can have a big impact.  Read here about how a recent $3,500 USD loan enabled a small mango drying operation in Burkina Faso to expand.  The plant now offers steady employment to 48 workers and positively affects at least 1,000 other individuals in the area.
  • Congratulations to Good Return on its most successful fundraiser ever, despite being entirely virtual and in the middle of the pandemic!  Check out this video of their many accomplishments this past year.

The Responsible Inclusive Finance Facilities

Apply for co-financing for an SPM project

If you’re interested in applying for co-financing for an upgrade project from one of SPTF’s regional responsible inclusive finance facilities, see 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: March 15, 2021
  • Responsible Inclusive Finance Facility for Central America and the Caribbean (RIFF-CAC). Learn more about the facility. Next application deadline: March 31, 2021
  • Responsible Inclusive Finance Facility for Southeast Asia (RIFF-SEA). Learn more about the facility. Next application deadline: Accepting applications on a rolling basis.

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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