SPTF Newsletter

Your SPM Updates for  May 2021             

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Building Customer Empowerment at the Market Level

In recent years, the financial inclusion community has made good progress in being more customer centric in the design and delivery of financial services. Many clients now enjoy greater choice, voice, respect, and control in their interactions with financial service providers (FSPs).  However, continuing challenges in uptake and on-going use – particularly of digital financial services--indicates that barriers to customer empowerment remain. Barriers can be simple—a digital interface that isn’t accessible to people with low levels of literacy, for example.  They can also be more complex, such as poor internet connectivity and network downtime, or cultural norms that discourage low-income people from demanding better treatment from their providers. Continue reading >



May 20, 2021
9:00am Eastern Daylight Time

Responsible finance and sustainability: The importance of lending and investing with care for environmental and social impacts

As the financial sector is urged to increase its contribution to achieving the UN SDGs, FSPs must contribute to sustainable development and social impact through the way treat their employees, clients, and communities (including their suppliers).

Panelists--including SPTF's Amelia Greenberg--will recommend policies and procedures FSPs should have in place to promote environmentally friendly and fair/equitable financial services practices, as well as standards for customer protection and empowerment

The webinar will offer simultaneous interpretation from French to English.

Register and join here! >

May 27, 2021 
1:00pm Eastern Daylight Time

Strategies for supporting the recovery and adaptation of client businesses to COVID-19

The SPTF COVID-19 Client Interview Tool revealed that many client businesses were severely impacted by COVID-19 and the measures taken to prevent its spread. Although many clients are back to work, some have found their original businesses are no longer viable and have had to switch to a new business, rebuild entirely, or fundamentally alter how they work.

This webinar will explore the strategies that Friendship Bridge in Guatemala and Movimiento Manuela Ramos's CrediMujer program in Peru are using to help their clients rebuild and adapt.

The webinar will offer simultaneous interpretation from Spanish to English.

Join here! >

June 8, 2021
7h30-9h00 EDT /11h30-13h00 GMT

SPM Essentials: Using Client Feedback to Inform Product Design

This webinar will focus on dimension 3 of the Universal Standards--Client-centric Products and Services--with a special focus on using client feedback to inform product design. SPTF is delighted to welcome two pairs of speakers:
a) Representatives from Entrepreneurs du Monde and its partner Anh Chi Em (ACE) Vietnam will discuss a recent client satisfaction survey that ACE implemented and how they are applying survey results to future product decisions; b) Representatives from the Terwilliger Center of Habitat for Humanity International and from Negros Women for Tomorrow Foundation (NWTF), located in the Philippines, will share lessons learned from their work to develop a new housing product, focusing in particular on the product design phase, which involved extensive market research and client focus group discussions.

Join here! >

June 16, 2021
10:30-11:30 EDT/16:30-17:30 CEST

Social Investor Working Group Meeting

All social investors are invited to join our next monthly meeting. The agenda will be announced soon, in an email to investors. To join our social investor mailing list, please email Ally Ryder

If you missed any of our previous calls, you can catch up by reading the briefs and listening to the recordings on the SIWG webpage.

social investors meeting at the SPTF annual meeting


SPTF Announcements


Did you miss these webinars? It's not too late!

Practical ways to address gender-related risks at your organization: This webinar explored how FSPs can better meet the needs of female employees and customers. Dimension 2 of the Universal Standards focuses on leadership's role in creating a culture of commitment to SPM. We heard from two FSPs who have made this a priority. In collaboration with Grameen Foundation, CREDICAMPO of El Salvador and ODEF Financiera of Honduras participated in a training and a rapid assessment that focused on gender-related risks and opportunities. Executives from these organizations discussed how the training and assessment influenced both internal staff management and their attention to client needs, with emphasis on female and other vulnerable clients. This webinar was conducted in Spanish with simultaneous interpretation into English. PowerPoint and Recording in English

Webinar on Responsible Digital Transformation: The Case of Hermandad de Honduras (HDH): In this webinar, HDH shared its successful process of responsible digital transformation. HDH managed to reduce the time required for processing a disbursement by 80%, increase the average number of clients per business advisor by 24%, reduce the number of customer visits by 75%, and integrate the new HDH Móvil application to the institution’s MIS. This investment allowed them to continue offering services without major interruptions during the pandemic. This webinar is valuable other financial institutions that are planning their digital transformation. This webinar was conducted in Spanish with simultaneous interpretation into English. PowerPoint and
Recording in English

(Continued from top) Building Customer Empowerment

Many of the barriers to customer empowerment are best addressed through partnerships between market-level players and individual providers. That’s why SPTF is so excited to be leading pilot project in the Philippines that brings together policymakers, regulators, associations, microfinance cooperatives, agricultural banks, regulators, insurance companies, Fintechs, funders, and support organizations to develop and test practical responses that build customer empowerment.  

The project—funded by Agence Française de Développement (AFD)—kicked off in January 2021 with a sector-level mapping that engaged a range of financial actors and customers in conversations to understand the factors that affect customer empowerment in the Philippines, and to explore solutions. The resulting paper—Developing Actions for Customer Empowerment in the Philippines—highlights key differences between customer segments. We found that low-income rural people experience limited access to digital and physical access points, while urban consumers are more affected by issues of limited trust toward providers. We also found that customer voice is a challenge for all types of clients, as customers prefer to avoid embarrassment and conflict, which makes them less likely to use complaints mechanisms. 

Following the initial mapping, SPTF and the Microfinance Council of the Philippines (MCPI) hosted two virtual roundtable meetings (March 2021) that brought together high-level participation from a diverse set of financial sector actors in the Philippines. The group endorsed the need to work on customer empowerment at a market level. Participants explored the themes raised in the sector mapping, and prioritized potential market level responses, such as enhanced financial education and customer empowerment agents who would provide unbiased financial information at convenient service points. The discussions highlighted the need to build on existing initiatives such as financial education and leverage existing structures such as schools or Negosyo business development centres. This is particularly important to ensure a viable and financially sustainable business model for any strategy developed. 

A cross-sector team is currently developing the detailed pilot design which will launch in the third quarter of 2021.  We anticipate that this pilot project will provide a practical example to other countries and will spur other initiatives to address customer empowerment at a market level. 

For more information, contact Anton Simanowitz. For further reading on Customer Empowerment, check out CGAP’s Customer Empowerment in Finance.


Featured Resource

guidance note icon

Solutions to Low Staff Productivity

As social businesses, we need to fip the “productivity
question” on its head – and fnd ways to do “better
with less” not just “more with less.” This gudiance note provides practical solutions to the challenge of improving staff productivity. Read the guidance note here.


The Responsible Inclusive Finance Facilities

man shaving ice in latin america

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: June 15, 2021
  • Responsible Inclusive Finance Facility for Southeast Asia (RIFF-SEA). Learn more about the facility. Next application deadline: Accepting applications on a rolling basis.
  • Responsible Inclusive Finance Facility for Central America and the Caribbean (RIFF-CAC). Learn more about the facility. Not currently accepting applications.

News from the SPTF Community 

Equitas India mobilizes self-help groups to get members vaccinated

Amid India's extreme COVID crisis, Equitas is collaborating with governmental health departments to spread awareness of the benefits of vaccination as well as information on how to get vaccinated in rural and slum areas. The bank has also organized "vaccination camps" in 15 states where 4 million of their self-help group members and their families live. Equitas is looking for more NGO's with which to partner in this effort. Contact SPTF for more information.

         women wait in line at equitas vaccine van    equitas vaccine clinic

e-MFP's  Financial Inclusion Compass Survey
e-MFP's Compass survey is an invaluable way to ‘take the pulse’ of the sector across different stakeholders, and to understand the current trends and future areas of focus that are most important. Make sure that your insights are included in this year's survey results! Take the survey.

Become a member in 2021

Is your organization ready to play a more prominent role in SPM across the world? We rely on the support of our members and we hope that your organization will consider membership in 2021.

Find out more here, or contact us directly for more information.



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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