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Application Deadline / Date Limite pour Postuler

The next application deadline is 15 September 2021. If you miss this deadline, your application will be considered during the third quarter of 2021. 

La prochaine date limite pour postuler est le 15 septembre 2021. Si vous posez votre demande après cette date, votre soumission sera considérée pendant le troisième trimestre de l’année 2021.

An Update on Funding/ Une Mise à Jour sur le Financement

SPTF is pleased to announce that we have secured funding that allows this facility to make grants in 2021 to applicants from all countries in Africa. We regret to inform you, however, that we do not have funding for projects in the Middle East.

La SPTF est heureuse d'annoncer qu'un financement a été obtenu pour permettre à la Falicité d'accorder des subventions en 2021, à des candidats de tous les pays d'Afrique. Nous avons le regret, cependant, de vous informer que nous n'avons pas de financement pour des projets en provenance du Moyen-Orient.

General Information about the RIFF-SSA/MENA  / Informations Générales sur la RIFF-SSA / MENA


Overview
Apply to the RIFF-SSA/MENA
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) 

Overview

The Responsible Inclusive Finance Facility (RIFF) is a project managed by SPTF and funded by the Agence Française de Développement, the Swiss Agency for Cooperation and Development (SDC), and the Government of Luxembourg via The Financial Inclusion Fund administered by the European Investment Bank (EIB). The purpose of the RIFF is to strengthen the social performance management (SPM) practices, including client protection practices, of financial institutions in sub-Saharan African (SSA) and the Middle East and North African (MENA).  RIFF began operating in January 2015 and currently is funded through December 2023.

Between 2015 and 2020, the RIFF was able to support projects both in the Middle East and Africa. Beginning in 2021, however, the RIFF has funding only for Africa. SPTF is actively seeking additional donors, including those interested in supporting projects in the Middle East, but there are no guarantees these efforts will be successful.

The RMF will offer trainings and provide co-financing to providers for certain activities. 

  • Trainings. 1. three-day introductory training on responsible inclusive finance; 2. training client protection assessors; 3. training SPI4 auditors; 4. training technical assistance (TA) providers on client protection; 5. training TA providers on all other elements of SPM.
  • Activities eligible for co-financing. 1. accompanied SPI4 assessment plus additional support; 2. client protection assessment; 3. an upgrade project chosen by the provider; 4. upgrade project to improve digital financial services (available now!) 5. specialized training for the provider on an aspect of SPM of its choosing; 6. specialized training for digital transformation of FSPs (available now!) 7. client protection certification and/or social rating

The RIFF-SSA/MENA will also develop a select number of new SPM resources to highlight learnings from the field.
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Apply to the RIFF-SSA/MENA 

SPTF encourages you to apply to the RIFF-SSA/MENA to participate in trainings and/or for co-financing.  Please see the FAQ (below) for more information.

Important update! Co-financing for a specialized training or an upgrade project focused on digital transformation is now available. Both applications are available below.  Please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. if you would like further information.

You may submit an application form by downloading a Word document of the form, typing your responses, and emailing it to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. All application forms are available in English and French. 

Pour plus de détails, veuillez consulter notre FAQ (ci-dessous).

NOUVEAUTE! La RIFF-SSA/MENA co-finance la transformation numérique. Deux options seront disponibles: 1- une formation specialisée, 2- un projet d'amélioration. Pour de plus amples informations, contactez la RIFF-SSA/MENA: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Vous pouvez soumettre un formulaire de candidature en téléchargant le formulaire en fichier Word, le remplissant, et l'envoyant par courriel à This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Tous les formulaires de demandes sont disponsibles et en anglais et en français.

1. Responsible Inclusive Finance Introductory Training / Formation d'Initiation à la Finance Inclusive Responsable
English: Word application
en françaisFormulaire de demande à télécharger

2. Client Protection Assessor Training / Formation d’Evaluateur de Protection des Clients
English:  Word application
en français: Formulaire de demande à télécharger

3. SPI4 Auditor Training / Formation d'Auditeur SPI4
English: Word application
en français:Formulaire de demande à télécharger

4. Training of Technical Assistance Providers on Specific Areas of Client Protection / Formation des Fournisseurs d'Assistance Technique sur des Domaines Spécifiques de Protection des Clients 
English:
Word application
en français:  Formulaire de demande à télécharger

5. Training of Technical Assistance Providers on Specific Areas of SPM / Formation de fournisseurs d'assistance technique sur des aspects précis de GPS 
English:
Word application
en français:Formulaire de demande à télécharger

6. SPI4 Social Audit Plus / Audit Social SPI4 Plus
English:   Word application
en français:  Formulaire de demande à télécharger

7. Client Protection Assessment / Évaluation de Protection des Clients
English:Word application

en français:Formulaire de demande à télécharger

8. Digital Readiness Assessment / Evaluation de l'Etat des préparatifs numériques
English:
Word application
en français:
Formulaire de demande à télécharger

9. Upgrade Project / Projet d'amélioration
English: Word application
en français:Formulaire de demande à télécharger

10. Upgrade Project to Improve Digital Financial ServicesProjet d'amélioration pour perfectionner les Services Financiers Numériques
English: Word application
en français: Formulaire de demande à télécharger

11. Specialized Training for a Provider in a Specific Area of SPM  / Formation spécialisée sur un aspect précis de GPS pour les institutions financières
English: Word application

en français: Formulaire de demande à télécharger

12. Specialized Training for Digital Transformation of FSPs/Formation spécialisée sur la transformation numérique pour les Fournisseurs de Services Financiers (FSF)
English:  Word application
en français:  Formulaire de demande à télécharger

13. Client Protection Certification and/or Social Rating / Certification de  Protection des Clients et/ou Notation Sociale Formation des évaluateurs 
English: Word application
en français: Formulare de demande à télécharger

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Please click here to download a list of FAQs about the RMF. Le Foire aux Questions est disponible en français iciThis document answers the following questions:

  1. What is the Responsible Inclusive Finance Facility, Sub-Saharan Africa/Middle East and North Africa (RIFF-SSA/MENA)?
  2. Who is managing the RIFF-SSA/MENA and how do I contact them?
  3. What is the CERISE SPI4 social audit tool and how is CERISE working with the RIFF-SSA/MENA?
  4. What types of training are offered by the RIFF-SSA/MENA?
  5. How do I apply to attend a training offered by the RIFF-SSA/MENA?
  6. How will I know when and where the next training will be?
  7. What types of activities can be co-financed by the RIFF-SSA/MENA?
  8. What amount of co-financing does the RMF offer? How does the RIFF-SSA/MENA disburse the co-financing?
  9. Can I apply for more than one co-financing grant from the RIFF-SSA/MENA?
  10. How do I apply for co-financing from the RIFF-SSA/MENA?
  11. How do I know if my application to attend a training or receive co-financing has been approved? What are the selection criteria?
  12. What is an SPI4 social audit plus?
  13. What is an upgrade project?
  14. What is an upgrade project to improve digital financial services?
  15. What is a specialized SPM training for a financial service provider (FSP)?
  16. What is specialized training for digital transformation of FSPs?
  17. What is a client protection assessment?
  18. What is a client protection certification?
  19. What is a social rating?
  20. What TA providers may I work with on projects co-financed by the RIFF-SSA/MENA, and how do I contact them?
  21. How do I become a qualified client protection assessor?
  22. How do I become a qualified SPI4 auditor?

1. What is the Responsible Inclusive Finance Facility, Sub-Saharan Africa/Middle East and North Africa (RIFF-SSA/MENA)?  The Responsible Inclusive Finance Facility (RIFF) is a project managed by SPTF and funded by the Agence Française de Développement, the Swiss Agency for Cooperation and Development (SDC), and the Government of Luxembourg via a fund administered by the European Investment Bank (EIB). The purpose of the RIFF is to strengthen the social performance management (SPM) practices, including client protection practices, of financial institutions in sub-Saharan African (SSA) and the Middle East and North African (MENA).

RIFF began operating in January 2015 and currently is funded through December 2023.

Between 2015 and 2020, the RIFF was able to support projects both in the Middle East and Africa. Beginning in 2021, however, the RIFF has funding only for Africa. SPTF is actively seeking additional donors, including those interested in supporting projects in the Middle East, but there are no guarantees these efforts will be successful.

The RIFF offers trainings, co-finances activities of financial institutions, supports research, and develops new resources. More details below:

  • Trainings. The RIFF offers the following trainings: 1. introductory training on responsible inclusive finance, focusing on the Universal Standards for SPM and the SPI4; 2. training to become client protection assessors; 3. training SPI4 auditors; 4. training technical assistance (TA) providers on client protection; 5. training TA providers on all other elements of SPM.
  • Co-financing. The RIFF reimburses financial institutions up to 50% of the cost of any of the following activities: 1. accompanied SPI4 social audit plus additional support to related to improving practice; 2. client protection assessment; 3. an upgrade project chosen by the financial institution; 4. specialized training for the financial institution on an aspect of SPM of its choosing (can be Client Protection); 5. client protection certification and/or social rating.
  • Research. The RIFF is funding research on two topics: 1. Update of the Microfinance Index of Market Outreach and Saturation (MIMOSA); 2. Integration of social performance and digital financial services.
  • New resources. 1.Improve and expand the existing SPTF database of TA providers; 2. Develop new resources, such as case studies or tools, based on demand from the field.

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2. Who is managing the RIFF-SSA/MENA and how do I contact them?  The SPTF is managing the RIFF. CERISE collaborates closely with SPTF to manage the areas of RIFF work related to the SPI4 audit tool. Governance of the RIFF is provided by a steering committee, whose members represent several responsible inclusive finance initiatives as well as some independent consultants experienced with SPM in Africa in particular. To contact the RIFF, please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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3. What is the CERISE SPI4 social audit tool and how is CERISE working with the RIFF-SSA/MENA? The SPI4 social audit tool is a free assessment tool that providers can use to understand their level of implementation of social performance management practices.  The SPI4 is fully aligned to the Universal Standards for SPM, including the client protection standards, and also offers optional modules with additional indicators for users with a specific mission focus in the following four areas: green microfinance, poverty, rural, and gender.

CERISE is a key partner of the RIFF-SSA/MENA.  The Executive Director of CERISE sits on the steering committee of the RIFF-SSA/MENA. The CERISE team is also integrally involved in the development, implementation, and documenting of lessons learned for all RIFF-SSA/MENA trainings and co-financed activities related to the SPI4. 

To learn more about CERISE and the SPI4 social audit tool, visit CERISE’s website: https://cerise-spm.org/en/

To contact CERISE, please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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4. What types of training are offered by the RIFF-SSA/MENA? The RIFF-SSA/MENA offers five different types of trainings:

1)   Responsible Inclusive Finance (RIF) Introductory Training. The Responsible Inclusive Finance Introductory Training is a three-day, introductory level training course that will introduce participants to social performance management (SPM). The first day will be devoted to defining SPM and discussing why it is important to financial service providers (FSPs) and how strong SPM can help FSPs achieve both their financial and social goals. The second day introduces the Universal Standards for Social Performance Management ("Universal Standards") and the SPI4 social audit tool. The third day of the training reviews action planning and implementation based on results from an SPI4 social audit, and introduces certain essential resources for FSPs seeking to improve their SPM.  The training curriculum integrates lecture, case study examples, interactive group exercises, and discussion.

2)   Training client protection assessors. The training prepares participants to carry out in-depth client protection assessments with financial institutions.  The training includes experiential learning: role playing, practice interviews, and tips from experienced assessors. The training simulates the process of carrying out an assessment, while preparing participants to perform the interviews and analysis on their own. The key subjects covered are the principals of client protection and how to conduct an assessment.

3)   Training SPI4 auditors. The SPI4 social audit tool is fully aligned to the Universal Standards for SPM.  It is free, in order to promote widespread use of the tool and social performance assessment. But to ensure high quality results, CERISE strongly encourages SPI4 users to get trained on how to use the tool efficiently. Training is a two phase process: 1) theoretical training and 2) practical application of the SPI4, with results validation by CERISE. The SPI4 Auditor Training funded by the RIFF is phase one of this process, and can be delivered virtually or in person. The training familiarizes participants with the SPI4 tool and also covers how to use results, define priorities, draft an action plan, and support implementation through a mentoring process. 

4)   Training technical assistance (TA) providers on certain areas of client protection. This two-day training is custom-designed to build the expertise of TA providers  in relation to their work strengthening certain areas of client protection that they deem most relevant to the sector(s) in which they work.  The training begins by providing a summary introduction to client protection and specific areas of demand of the participants.  The course is not introductory, but intended to build on participants' previous experience with SPM and strengthen their abilities as a TA provider. 

5)   Training TA providers on all other elements of SPM. The training of technical assistance (TA) providers on specific areas of social performance management is designed to explore in depth one specific area of SPM, with the goal of building expertise of TA providers in this area.  The course is not introductory, but intended to build on participants' previous experience with SPM and to strengthen their abilities as a technical assistance provider. The specific area of SPM to be covered in the training will depend on demand. Typically, this kind of training lasts two days, but certain trainings may last one or three days instead, depending on the topic(s) to be covered.

The RIFF is not able to schedule trainings in advance of reviewing the applications, as which trainings are offered, and when, and where, will all depend on demand.  Once a training is approved by the RIFF Steering Committee, the RIFF works with the national association to invite its members, and the RIFF also notifies individual applicants.
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5. How do I apply to attend a training offered by the RIFF-SSA/MENA? Please go to the RIFF-SSA/MENA website to download the application form for the training that interests you: https://sptf.info/ta-funding/riff-ssa-mena.
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6. How will I know when and where the next training will be? The RIFF-SSA/MENA is not able to schedule trainings in advance of reviewing the applications, as which trainings are offered, and when, and where, will all depend on demand.  Once a training is approved by the RIFF-SSA/MENA Steering Committee, the RIFF-SSA/MENA works with the national association to invite its members, and the RIFF-SSA/MENA also notifies individual applicants.
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7. What types of activities can be co-financed by the RIFF-SSA/MENA? RIFF-SSA/MENA offers co-financing for five different types of activities:

1)   Accompanied SPI4 social audit plus. The SPI4 Social Audit Plus involves a SPI4 audit plus a customized activity. For example:

  1. SPI4 audit + post-assessment mentoring. The provider conducts an SPI4 with a qualified SPI4 auditor.  As with any accompanied SPI4 audit, the auditor works with management immediately following the assessment to prioritize areas for improvement and develop an action plan. The SPI4 auditor then works with the provider to facilitate implementation (build commitment, provide guidance, identify resources, one-on-one coaching, etc.), dedicating a certain number of days per month up to a period of 2 to 6 months.
  2. Pre-training + SPI4 audit. For providers that are new to SPM, a qualified SPI4 auditor organizes an awareness-raising workshop on SPM first, and then conducts the SPI4 audit.
  3. Participatory SPI4 audit. For large providers, a qualified SPI4 auditor dedicates a longer time to the SPI4 audit process, in order to include a wider range of stakeholders (staff at HQ, Board members, but also branch staff, clients, other external partners).

2)   Client protection assessment. A client protection assessment is a diagnostic assessment of how well any institution is implementing client protection.  Applicants may apply either for an accompanied self-assessment, which requires less comprehensive analysis than a full assessment and can be conducted by only one sonsultant in collaboration with the institution.  The assessment takes the institution through a process of internal review to identify strengths, weaknesses, and ultimately opportunities to enhance its client protection practices. The assessors do some of the work off-site, and some of the work on-site, and work closely with the leadership of the institution to explain their findings and discuss their recommendations. 

3)   Upgrade project.  An upgrade project is a project designed and managed by a provider in order to improve its social performance practices.  An upgrade project can also be a crucial step for addressing remaining gaps before passing a client protecton certification or to achieve a higher social rating.  Before a provider is ready for an upgrade project, it must do an assessment, either an SPI4 or a client protection assessment, of its current state of practice.  This helps to identify strengths and weaknesses. After the assessment, the provider analyzes the results and prioritizes areas for improvement. It then develops an action plan for implementing improvements. Once the action plan is created, the provider is ready to implement changes. The implementation of the action plan to address priority gap areas is the upgrade project.  No two upgrade projects are the same, because the actions taken during an upgrade process vary according to the need of the provider. The upgrade activities should, however, be designed to improve performance on some or all of the poorly scored indicators of the SPI4 or client protection assessment. The following are examples of common actions taken during upgrade projects: developing and putting in place a client complaints system, providing additional social performance training to employees, surveying clients, developing new product delivery mechanisms, and investing in new infrastructure such as buying a new management information system.

4)   Upgrade project to improve digital financial services. An upgrade project is a project designed and managed by a financial service provider (FSP) in order to improve its provision of digital financial services (DFS), with care to integrate social performance practices into its new activities. Before an institution is ready for an upgrade project focused on DFS, it must have secured both a) buy-in from Board and Governance structures for digital transformation, and b) funds for digital transformation. Ideally, the institution will also have done the following:

• Secured institutional commitment for digital transformation
• Conducted strategic and tactical planning for digital transformation
• Identified organizational competence needed for digital transformation
• Established a change management plan
• Assessed its own digital transformation readiness

Because the actions taken during an upgrade project vary according to the budget, needs, and priorities of the applicant, the RIFF cannot specify what activities will comprise your own project. From previous experience, however, the RIFF can share examples of common actions taken during upgrade projects focused on DFS:

• Develop and implement digital financial solutions
• Design and implement agency banking strategy
• Enable fintech collaboration for increased outreach
• Digitize front end processes for microfinance
• Train staff members on digital financial services

5)   Specialized training for the provider on an aspect of SPM of its choosing. This is a training that will be offered at your institution or in a nearby training facility, according to your preference.  Your institution will select which of its employees may attend, and you may also wish to invite members of your board of directors. Please note that RIFF recommends a maximum of 20 people in the room, to allow for in-depth interaction and discussion among all training participants. The subject of the training will be selected by your institution, according to your institution's priorities, as well as your assessment of the areas of social performance management in which your institution's practices are not as strong as you would like them to be.

6) Specialized training for digital transformation of FSPs. This is a training that will be offered at your institution or in a nearby training facility, according to your preference. Your institution will select which of its employees may attend, and you may also wish to invite members of your board of directors. Please note that RIFF recommends a minimum of 10 people and a maximum of 20 people in the room, to allow for in-depth interaction and discussion among all training participants. MicroSave’s Helix Institute of Digital Finance will deliver the training. Please see below for a summary training agenda:

Day 1

Session 1 Financial Inclusion and Digital Financial Services' Ecosystem
Session 2 Digital Transformation for MFIs
Session 3 Strategic Planning for Digital Transformation

Day 2

Session 4 Product Innovation for Digital Transformation
Session 5 Process Re-engineering for Digital Transformation
Session 6 Delivery Channel and Distribution Design

Day 3

Session 7 Risk Management for Digital Transformation
Session 8 Implementing Digital Transformation

7)  Client protection certification and/or social rating. RIFF allows applicants to choose to apply only for a client protection certification, only for a social rating, or both. Both are conducted by an independent third-party, typically a rating agency. A client protection certification is an evaluation that recognizes publicly a financial institution that meets adequate standards of implementation of client protection standards throughout its operations, product offerings, and treatment of clients. Social ratings provide an objective opinion of a financial service provider’s degree of success in translating its mission into practice. To reach that opinion, raters analyze the institution's country context, social performance management, client protection, depth of outreach, quality of services, and outcomes. For both certifications and social ratings, the process involves a mix of document review, interviews with institution staff and clients, and field visits. Also in both cases, the audience for the results is external. The third party who conducted the evaluation does not provide recommendations for improving practice. Instead, the result is a credible, unbiased assessment that is often of interest both to the institution that was evaluated and related stakeholders, such as potential donors or investors.

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8. What amount of co-financing does the RIFF-SSA/MENA offer? How does the RIFF-SSA/MENA disburse the co-financing? For each co-financed activity, the provider is responsible for 50% of the cost and the RIFF-SSA/MENA will co-finance the remaining 50%. Some of the provider's share of co-financing may be contributed in-kind rather than by spending money (e.g., using its own venue for training will count as paying for training venue rental.  However, all applicants must pay for at least a portion of the external costs.  The RIFF-SSA/MENA steering committee considers on a case-by-case basis the requests from institutions to pay for less than 50% of external costs, and the steering committee may not always grant an exception to the 50% co-financing rule.

The RIFF-SSA/MENA will not disburse the co-financing grant to a provider on the date when its application is approved.  Instead, it will wait until the provider begins paying for its 50% share of the cost.  This is to avoid problems that might occur if the RIFF-SSA/MENA contributes 50% but the provider is ultimately not able to contribute its 50% share of the cost. Additionally, RIFF-SSA/MENA will pay third-party vendors directly. This means that a portion, or all, of the co-financing may be paid directly to a third party instead of deposited in the account of the provider.  In cases where it is not possible for the RIFF-SSA/MENA to pay third-party vendors directly, the provider must pay those vendors directly and then submit receipts to the RIFF-SSA/MENA for reimbursement.
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 9. Can I apply for more than one co-financing grant from the RIFF-SSA/MENA?  Yes.  The RIFF-SSA/MENA steering committee gives priority to first time applicants, but in compelling cases it can approve multiple grants to the same financial institution.
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10. How do I apply for co-financing from the RIFF-SSA/MENA? Please go to the RIFF-SSA/MENA website to download the application form for the co-financed activity that interests you: https://sptf.info/ta-funding/riff-ssa-mena . Submit your application via either the online platform or an email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..
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11. How do I know if my application to attend a training or receive co-financing has been approved? What are the selection criteria?RIFF-SSA/MENA will reply to you upon receipt of your application, to confirm that we have received it. The RIFF-SSA/MENA steering committee meets approximately quarterly to review applications. You will receive notice of the decision on your application no later than one month after the deadline to submit the application.  

RIFF-SSA/MENA will consider a number of factors when deciding which applications to approve, including how well the applicant can explain his/her interest in the activity, and specifically how this activity will contribute to improved SPM practice in the market(s) where s/he works.  For trainings, RIFF-SSA/MENA will also consider how many people it can reach per training, and will be more likely to fund a training demanded by many than one where only a few participants are likely.  For activities to be co-financed, an important area of consideration will be confirming that the provider is to contribute its 50% of the cost share.  RIFF will also be more likely to co-finance activities where the provider has demonstrated a strong analysis of its gap areas, and has proposed an activity that clearly addresses those gap areas and will therefore help the provider improve its SPM.

RIFF-SSA/MENA will not review incomplete applications.  In these cases, the RIFF-SSA/MENA administrative team will notify your institution that its application is incomplete, and invite your institution to complete the form and then resubmit it.
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12. What is an SPI4 social audit plus?
1)   The SPI4 Social Audit Plus involves a SPI4 audit plus a customized activity. For example:

  1. SPI4 audit + post-assessment mentoring. The provider conducts an SPI4 with a qualified SPI4 auditor.  As with any accompanied SPI4 audit, the auditor works with management immediately following the assessment to prioritize areas for improvement and develop an action plan. The SPI4 auditor then works with the provider to facilitate implementation (build commitment, provide guidance, identify resources, one-on-one coaching, etc.), dedicating a certain number of days per month up to a period of 2 to 6 months.
  2. Pre-training + SPI4 audit. For providers that are new to SPM, a qualified SPI4 auditor organizes an awareness-raising workshop on SPM first, and then conducts the SPI4 audit.
  3. Participatory SPI4 audit. For large providers, a qualified SPI4 auditor dedicates a longer time to the SPI4 audit process, in order to include a wider range of stakeholders (staff at HQ, Board members, but also branch staff, clients, other external partners).
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13. What is an upgrade project? An upgrade project is a project designed and managed by a provider in order to improve its social performance practices.  An upgrade project can also be a crucial step for addressing remaining gaps before passing a client protection certification or to achieve a higher social rating.  Before a provider is ready for an upgrade project, it must do an assessment, either an SPI4 or a client protection assessment, of its current state of practice.  This helps to identify strengths and weaknesses. After the assessment, the provider analyzes the results and prioritizes areas for improvement. It then develops an action plan for implementing improvements. Once the action plan is created, the institution is ready to implement changes. The implementation of the action plan to address priority gap areas is the upgrade project.  No two upgrade projects are the same, because the actions taken during an upgrade process vary according to the need of the provider. The upgrade activities should, however, be designed to improve performance on some or all of the poorly scored indicators of the SPI4 or client protection assessment. The following are examples of common actions taken during upgrade projects: developing and putting in place a client complaints system, providing additional social performance training to employees, surveying clients, developing new product delivery mechanisms, and investing in new infrastructure such as buying a new management information system.
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14.  What is an upgrade project to improve digital financial services?  An upgrade project is a project designed and managed by a financial service provider (FSP) in order to improve its provision of digital financial services (DFS), with care to integrate social performance practices into its new activities. Before an institution is ready for an upgrade project focused on DFS, it must have secured both a) buy-in from Board and Governance structures for digital transformation, and b) funds for digital transformation. Ideally, the institution will also have done the following:

• Secured institutional commitment for digital transformation
• Conducted strategic and tactical planning for digital transformation
• Identified organizational competence needed for digital transformation
• Established a change management plan
• Assessed its own digital transformation readiness

Because the actions taken during an upgrade project vary according to the budget, needs, and priorities of the applicant, the RIFF-SSA/MENA cannot specify what activities will comprise your own project. From previous experience, however, the RIFF-SSA/MENA can share examples of common actions taken during upgrade projects focused on DFS:

• Develop and implement digital financial solutions
• Design and implement agency banking strategy
• Enable fintech collaboration for increased outreach
• Digitize front end processes for microfinance
• Train staff members on digital financial services

15. What is a specialized SPM training for a financial service provider (FSP)? This is a training that will be offered at your institution or in a nearby training facility, according to your preference.  Your institution will select which of its employees may attend, and you may also wish to invite members of your board of directors. Please note that RIFF-SSA/MENA recommends a maximum of 25 people in the room, to allow for in-depth interaction and discussion among all training participants. The subject of the training will be selected by your institution, according to your institution's priorities, as well as your assessment of the areas of social performance management in which your institution's practices are not as strong as you would like them to be.
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16. What is Specialized Training for digital transformation of FSPs?  This is a training that will be offered at your institution or in a nearby training facility, according to your preference. Your institution will select which of its employees may attend, and you may also wish to invite members of your board of directors. Please note that RIFF recommends a minimum of 10 people and a maximum of 20 people in the room, to allow for in-depth interaction and discussion among all training participants.  MicroSave’s Helix Institute of Digital Finance will deliver the training. Please see below for a summary training agenda:

Day 1

Session 1 Financial Inclusion and Digital Financial Services' Ecosystem
Session 2 Digital Transformation for MFIs
Session 3 Strategic Planning for Digital Transformation

Day 2

Session 4 Product Innovation for Digital Transformation
Session 5 Process Re-engineering for Digital Transformation
Session 6 Delivery Channel and Distribution Design

Day 3

Session 7 Risk Management for Digital Transformation
Session 8 Implementing Digital Transformation

17. What is a client protection assessment?   A client protection assessment is a diagnostic assessment of how well an institution is implementing principals of client protection. The assessment takes the institution through a process of internal review to identify strengths, weaknesses, and ultimately opportunities to enhance its client protection practices. The assessors do some of the work off-site, and some of the work on-site, and work closely with the leadership of the institution to explain their findings and discuss their recommendations.

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18. What is a client protection certification? Certification is an independent, third-party evaluation to publicly recognize financial institutions that meet adequate standards of care in how they treat clients. Certification enables financial institutions to demonstrate adherence to the microfinance industry’s client protection standards. The objective of client protection standards is to define the set of management practices that an FSP must have in place so as not to harm clients with its provision of financial products and services .

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19. What is a social rating? Social ratings are conducted by a specialized rating agency and provide an objective opinion of an FSP’s degree of success in translating its mission into practice.  To reach that opinion, raters analyze the provider's country context, social performance management, client protection, depth of outreach, quality of services, and outcomes. A social rating is a valuable tool for a provider, as it identifies whether the provider has the systems in place to achieve its social mission as well as benchmarks the institution’s performance within the sector.

The RIFF-SSA/MENA can co-financing social ratings offered by any of the following four specialized rating agencies. Though all ratings have the same purpose - to provide an objective opinion on an FSP’s degree of success in translating its mission into practice - each agency has its own tool and scoring methodology. For more information, please contact the rating agencies directly:

  • Inclusion [Social Ratings]. Contact Santiago Arnaudin (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)
  • M-CRIL. Contact Frances Sinha (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)
  • Microfinanza Rating. Contact Aldo Mauro (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)
  • Contact María Belén Effio (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)

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20. What TA providers may I work with on projects co-financed by the RIFF-SSA/MENA, and how do I contact them? Each provider may choose the technical assistance (TA) providers with whom it works on projects co-financed by the RIFF-SSA/MENA, subject to the approval of the RIFF-SSA/MENA.

For information about some possible candidates, see the SPTF TA database: https://sptf.info/resources/find-a-ta-provider. The SPTF database provides information on TA providers' experience and skills, as well as contact information for references. Please note the SPTF does not contact references, nor does SPTF comment on the relative strengths and weaknesses of one TA provider versus another.  It is the responsibility of each provider to vet references, interview candidates, and select the person(s) best suited to your institution's needs.

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21. How do I become a qualified client protection assessor? To become a client protection assessor, you must first participate in a client protection assessor training. After this you may participate in client protection assessments and observe and support the assessment process under the supervision of an experienced assessor. Once you gain enough experience and skill, you may become a qualified assessor.

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22. How do I become a qualified SPI4 auditor? Click the following link to download document that explains the SPI4 auditor qualification process: https://cerise-spm.org/en/spi4/auditors-spi4/

For further information, please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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