#tbt: Digital services to reach the unreachable at the 2013 Summit

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Speakers in the “Reaching Deeper and Lowering Costs: The Path ahead for Digital Services” plenary session at the 2013 Partnerships against Poverty Summit in Manila, Philippines. We learned how mobile devices can help provide better options to those who are reliant upon riskier, costlier options.

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Highlighting technology innovations in the microfinance sector, the plenary session “Reaching Deeper and Lowering Costs: The Path ahead for Digital Services” at the 2013 Partnerships against Poverty Summit was moderated by our very own Sabina Rogers, filling in for Karen Dávila, noted Philippine broadcast journalist.

It was a fun session, using visual aids to represent certain aspects of a value chain for delivering mobile and financial services. A house represented the client and the start of the digital transaction value chain; then images showed the mobile interface for conducting transactions; a sari-sari represented an agent kiosk; a net represented both communications networks as well as financial networks; and a bank stood in for a variety of types of financial institutions.

Speakers were asked to make use of the array to help them illustrate where the companies and organizations the represented fit into the value chain.

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Gordon Cooper, Head of Emerging Market Solutions, APCEMEA, VISA, and Raj Singh-Khaira, Vice President, RM & Consumer Services, FINO PayTech

Nadeem Hussein of Tameer Microfinance Bank (Pakistan) led off the discussion demonstrating how Tameer had a role in supporting a number of points along the value chain overall from understanding the consumer landscape to developing mobile transaction interfaces including working with agents, and all as a financial institution.

Raj Singh-Khaira of FINO PayTech (India) and focused on the need for institutions like his to diversify their involvement in a number of ways along the value chain because “the market is not mature enough for us to be just this one component…the agent kiosk in this example.” He pointed to the wide array of services FINO provides to achieve this diversity including a number of types of savings products, insurance, and some loans.

FINO serves over 67 million clients and employs more than 50,000 agents. Technology is important to help reach this kind of scale as opposed to manual transactions. He also mentioned the ability to better track and secure transactions through the use of digital means of transacting.

The role of VISA was presented by Gordon Cooper. “Visa is a Network, a network service provider. It’s all about interoperability,” cited Cooper; continuing, he described a project VISA launched several years ago which focused on finding one key way VISA could contribute to increasing access to formal financial services for low income individuals.

The result: launching mVISA in Rwanda, a mobile transactions platform (see this video). He focused on the necessity of interoperability, which refers to the ability of one financial service provider’s platform to link up with others’ platforms in order to enable customers on different networks or in different financial systems to transact. Increasing interoperability as a means to support wider access will be one major focus for VISA in the digital area.

Napoleon Nazareno of Smart Communications, one of the largest mobile network operators working in the Philippines, echoed Khaira. Smart is not isolated to only providing mobile phone connectivity, but also goes beyond to touch on all aspects of the value chain. Beginning more than a decade ago, Smart launched a small mobile banking service platform. By partnering with financial service providers over the years, this has now grown into a full-fledged mobile microfinance service platform.

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Ian Radcliffe, Director, WSBI-ESBG

Ian Radcliffe of WSBI illustrated their role in supporting the actors involved in the value chain as direct service providers. Their core activity is advocacy, but apart from that, they also deliver training and consultancy services to providers.

He highlighted an initiative begun about four years ago, to understand what it would it take to double the number of savings accounts among poor people. This launched the WSBI savings account program, which is now working with banks in 10 countries to develop and improve agent banking models and mobile banking models now, too.

Nazareno summarized the session nicely at one point during the presentations, pointing to the power of digital channels for reaching the financially exclude citing recent national survey in the Philippines.

He said, “80% of the households in the Philippines don’t have a bank account. On the other hand, 90% of Filipinos have a cell phone,” which highlights the viability of using mobile devices to provide financial services to those who would otherwise remain excluded. Mobile devices can help provide better options to those who are reliant upon riskier, costlier options, and, ultimately, ones that would stand in the way of their journey out of poverty.

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A participant at the 2013 Summit was having a great time.

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#tbt: Digital Transactions for Products the Poor Can Afford

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The promise of mobile technology infographic: how it works
Rodger Voorhies, director of financial services for the poor at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in the United States, talked to Larry Reed, director of the Microcredit Summit Campaign, for the 2013 State of the Campaign Report.

Larry Reed: What opportunities do you see for digital transactions making a difference in the lives of the very poor?

Rodger Voorhies: Like most of us, poor people live their lives through a lot of different kinds of financial connections, and payments are really the connective tissue that hold those financial transactions together. Unless we can figure out ways to help poor people transact in a way that is profitable for them and profitable for providers, we’re really not going to see large-scale financial inclusion take place.

Now, one of the most exciting things that’s going on for us is the ability of mobile money to reach down into really poor households, and so right now in a country like Tanzania 47 percent of households have a mobile money user. An exciting bit of that is not so much, okay, there’s one person in the household sending money to friends, but it might open up all kinds of innovations that before were previously unavailable.

So, let’s think about savings, because we know savings have a big impact on poor people. Well, it’s really hard to save, and poor people have to take a lot of self-control and we expect a lot of self-discipline out of them if they’re going to be able to save. If I can actually begin to transact digitally and I had defaulted into commitments accounts and savings accounts for school fees or whatever the mental maps are that work for me, I think we can see large scale inclusion that actually has a big development impact. And we know that the empirical evidence around these pieces work, so we know commitment accounts work, but poor people just don’t have a way to get those commitment accounts.

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The 2015 State of the Campaign Report in a nutshell

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An African farmer is linked into the financial system via her mobile phone.
In his presentation today at the Inclusive Finance India Summit New Delhi, Larry Reed featured Mapping Pathways out of Poverty: The State of the Microcredit Summit Campaign Report, 2015. The report is now available online. We will also publish the full report in French, Spanish, and Arabic in early 2016. You can also read previous reports online, just select the year of interest from the drop-down menu “Previous Reports.”

At our 2013 Microcredit Summit in the Philippines, we focused on the partnerships required to deliver financial services to those living in poverty. At our 2014 Summit in Mexico, we focused on innovations in microfinance with a demonstrated capacity to reach those in extreme poverty. This year, we use the report to explore, in more detail, our six financial “pathways.” Each pathways has a chapter, and each chapter does the following:

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#tbt: Affordable Transactions for the Poor

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We are pleased to bring you this #ThrowbackThursday blog post, which was originally published in Resilience: The State of the Microcredit Summit Campaign Report, 2014, under the chapter “Mobile Network Operators Can Build Systems that Reach the Poorest and Most Remote.” The section excerpted below describes how important mobile technology and digital financial services are for reducing the cost of doing business with the poor and hard-to-reach — both for the provider and the client. Read also Ian Radcliffe’s blog post from Tuesday in which he describes WSBI’s progress achieved so far toward a related Campaign Commitment.


Transaction costs pose a significant challenge to those seeking to provide financial services to people transacting in very small amounts or living in remote areas. The cost of providing the service often exceeds the price that the client can afford to pay. People living in poverty must manage daily transactions with incomes that are small, inconsistent, and often unpredictable.

Ian Radcliffe, of the World Savings Bank Institute (WSBI) reported its research that calculates that people living in poverty can only afford to pay about USD 0.60 a month for financial transactions, an amount far lower than the cost to employ staff to manage the transactions. Moving transactions to mobile platforms can drastically reduce many of these costs.


An interview with Ian Radcliffe, Director of World Savings Bank Institute. Download a transcript of the video [PDF].

Low-income clients have shown the ability to adopt new technology when it provides them with essential services at much lower cost or with much easier accessibility than the alternative. A study by William Jack and Tavneet Suri of the M-PESA mobile payment system in Kenya describes how their system grew from its launch in 2007 to cover 70 percent of the Kenyan population today. The study stated that “while M-PESA use was originally limited to the wealthiest groups, it is slowly being adopted by a broader share of the population,” including those in the bottom quartile of household expenditure. [1] Compared to the option of receiving money from relatives far away only on their sporadic visits home, or through a USD 5 bus ride into the city, low-income people in rural areas quickly found out how to get access to a mobile phone, receive a funds transfer on it, and travel to the nearest agent to turn the digital funds into cash.

In addition, access to mobile payments can play a key role in reducing vulnerability and building resilience. Jack and Suri studied low-income families in rural Kenya who experienced economic shocks. Those with access to M-PESA received a greater number of remittances and more money from friends and family than those who did not have access to M-PESA. Access to mobile money gave them the ability to tap into a larger network and weather the economic crisis.


[1] William Jack and Tavneet Suri, 2011, “Mobile Money: The Economics of M-PESA,” http://www9.georgetown.edu/faculty/wgj/papers/Jack_Suri-Economics-of-M-PESA.pdf.

Colombia, a “Pathways” poster child

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>>Authored by Paul Gostomski, Microcredit Summit Campaign Program Intern

The 100 Million Project, an initiative of the Microcredit Summit Campaign, aims galvanize and support work that helps advance industry toward the goal of helping 100 million families lift themselves out extreme poverty. To do so, the Microcredit Summit Campaign advocates adoption of “Six Pathways,” which are financial inclusion strategies that can reach the extreme poor and facilitate their movement out of extreme poverty.

The Consultative Group to Assist the Poor (CGAP), a global partnership of 34 leading organizations that seek to advance financial inclusion, recently published a paper that does an excellent job highlighting two pathways that are currently being implemented in Colombia: conditional cash transfers and an initiative to link mobile banking services with agent networks.

Conditional Cash Transfers

The Más Familias en Acción program began in 2001 and aims to supplement the income of families who live below the poverty line and have children under 18. Mothers receive the cash transfer conditioned on their child’s regular attendance at school. This condition also qualifies the family for a health subsidy if their child receives regular health check-ups. In 2012, Más Familias en Acción was reaching 2.7 million families throughout the country. Between 2001 and 2012, malnutrition among children in Colombia aged two and under in rural areas decreased by 10 percent. Also in this time, school attendance for children between 12 and 17 increased by 12 percent.

The Campaign advocates for the use of conditional cash transfers (CCTs) within our six-pathways framework due to evidence such as is seen from programs like Más Familias en Acción. An array of positive externalities are also associated with CCTs, including income smoothing. Stabilizing income through CCTs help families better plan for the future as the immediate risks of today are somewhat mitigated.

Conditioned cash transfers are also incentivizing beneficiaries to make investments in themselves, often through participation in programs to increase health or education for the family. During last year’s Innovations in Social Protection program led by the Campaign, participants in PROGRESA (then called Oportunidades) indicated that while they appreciated and valued the security the transfer brought, they found that the greatest positive change was understanding the significance of the education and health investments they were making in their families.

Another positive externality of conditional cash transfer, and one we find significant, is its effect on women in poor communities. Almost all conditional cash transfers are administered to the mother of the household and this in turn increases women’s bargaining power, something that’s all too often neglected in poor communities.

 Mobile Money with Agent Networks

The second of the two pathways currently being implemented in Colombia is mobile money linked with agent networks in low-income communities through the mobile banking service DaviPlata. DaviPlata, launched as a private mobile service in 2011, was able to garner 500,000 customers in its first year of operation. Taking notice of this success, the government of Colombia contracted DaviPlata in 2012 to deliver the conditional cash transfers of Más Familias en Acción to its 937,000 beneficiaries.

After being contracted, the paper noted, DaviPlata as an organization began a new focus on how to serve the poorest in the country. DaviPlata, working solely through mobile phones, makes financial inclusion easier by making transferring, receiving, and withdrawing money less costly to the recipient of the conditional cash transfer. The recipient now spends less time traveling to the bank or post office and takes less risk as he or she has less cash on their person.

The World Bank reports that of the poorest two quintiles of those living in developing countries, only 30 percent have access to a savings account, whether formal or informal. The Campaign is looking at mobile money within its six-pathways framework because of how digital financial tools are decreasing the cost of transacting and, when linked with savings, increasing the ease with which the poor can access accounts, begin to develop savings, and more easily transfer money when needed.

Although many of the poor do not have savings accounts, many do have mobile devices. Mobile money linked with agent networks like DaviPlata helps link those living in more rural and remote areas to the mobile platforms where traditional financial institutions are less easy to find.

However, DaviPlata has room for improvement as a payments facility. The CGAP paper reports that DaviPlata faces an illiterate customer base and also issues with customers that do not understand the technology. DaviPlata must also deal with dormant accounts, where customers signed up for the service but their accounts have not been used in more than 30 days. Overcoming these challenges will be critical to moving forward.

Colombia’s Next Step

Colombia’s Más Familias en Acción, is a global leader in the use of CCTs to support increased health standards and school attendance among the poor. Now, work needs to be focused on decreasing the inefficiencies around the mobile banking service DaviPlata. In the CGAP paper on Colombia, it was made clear that Colombia’s greatest development challenge was in regard to DaviPlata and increasing its financial stability. This includes taking fuller advantage of the product while making the processes and channels more efficient. With a more effective method on distributing funds, the intended effects of Más Familias en Acción can then be multiplied.


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Ghana: What lies ahead

Representatives from REST Ethiopia lead a group discussion with a graduation program participant during the Innovations in Social Protection and Livelihoods Development program in 2014.

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>>Authored by Paul Gostomski, Microcredit Summit Campaign Program Intern

The Microcredit Summit Campaign recently spoke with Mawutor Ablo, director of Social Protection at Ghana’s Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection, and also a participant in the Campaign’s Field Learning Program last year, Innovations in Social Protection and Livelihoods Development.

The program invited representatives from Ghana, Malawi, and Mozambique on a trip to observe leading social protection programs in Ethiopia and Mexico. In our discussion with Mr. Mawutor, we spoke about the changes made to Ghana’s social protection programs since we last met and what changes may be made in the future to increase the reach of the programs and strengthen outcomes for Ghana’s poorest.

The Ghana National Household Registry

In May 2014, the World Bank continued its support to Ghana through a credit of US$50 million to Ghana’s Finance Ministry with payments dispersed annually from 2015 to 2017.

The funds are directed to the Ghana Social Opportunities Project, which aims to extend Ghana’s Labor-Intensive Public Works (LIPW) program from 49 to 60 of Ghana’s 216 districts. LIPW also aims to expand the reach of grants from 100,000 to 150,000 poor households through the Livelihood Empowerment against Poverty (LEAP) program.

In addition, the social protection systems will be strengthened through improved targeting and the establishment of the Ghana National Household Registry (GNHR).

Ato Berhanu Woldemichael in a meeting

Mr. Ato Berhanu Woldemichael, as acting State Minister with the Food Security Directorate, oversees much of the government’s role in LEAP and LIPW.

Before the implementation of the household registry system, both LIPW and LEAP screened candidate households in selected districts independently. This has not caused an overlap yet, but with the extension of the Ghana Social Opportunities Project and its intended scaling up of both programs, overlap is inevitable, leading to possible disbursement conflicts between the two programs.

The GNHR will create a database that optimizes methods used in finding and selecting program candidates through a universal survey useful for multiple social protection programs in selecting participating households. Simply put, the GNHR and its universal survey will represent a more efficient and comprehensive method for selecting households for inclusion in the national social protection programs.

Mr. Mawutor expects the registry to improve the ability to target and reach the poorest in Ghana. He compared the registry to that of the successful Cadastro Unico, the national registry of Brazil established in 2001. Three years after Cadastro Unico was created, a study showed that the poorest quartile of the population received 80 percent of all social protection programs’ benefits.

By way of comparison, the cash transfer programs in place prior to the unified registry together distributed only 64 percent of the total benefits to the poorest quartile. This improvement in targeting is something Mr. Mawutor hopes to see take place in GNHR by reducing what he termed inclusion error — the participation of households living above the targeted poverty level — in programs like LEAP and LIPW.

The Move to Mobile Money

Leaders in charge of implementing Ghana’s social protection programs are interested in finding the most efficient way to distribute the cash transfers that are at the center of these initiatives. Currently, the most common method of disbursement is through smart cards. Here, recipients of a cash transfer can go to the post office or another government entity with their smart card to have their payment added to their smart card.

Ghana would like to move from this strategy because of the high transaction costs associated with it. Also, this method does not allow recipients to transfer the money they receive to, for example, a family member in need. Instead, Ghana would like mobile money to be the primary form of receiving cash transfers.

Ghana has already partnered with MTN, a mobile network operator from South Africa, and has thus far reached a point where about 10 percent of its payments are disbursed through mobile systems.

Hoping to expand this number, Mr. Mawutor told us that Ghana would be increasing its total number of providers to four companies this year. With the expansion, Mr. Mawutor hopes to make mobile banking more accessible to poorer areas by increasing the overall number of local branches across the country.

The addition of three new operators would also produce significant returns from the added competition to the market, producing incentives for each company to provide the best service.

Mr. Mawutor Ablo during the Innovations in Social Protection, along with the Hon. Dela Sowa, Deputy Minister of Gender, Children, and Social Protection. Together they have great responsibility for the social protection programing in Ghana.

Growth by Efficiency

Social protection programs in Ghana have made many changes in the past few years and they all seem to focus on efficiency. Both the establishment of the Ghana National Household Registry and the move to mobile money aim to cut the costs associated with these programs. The registry intends to better target those among the poorest in Ghana for participation in the social protection program and reduce the costs to serve them by removing redundancies between the various initiatives.

The move to mobile money aims to make funds more accessible to beneficiaries, increasing the potential for positive outcomes resulting from the programs. With these changes, it is clear Ghana is dedicated to maximizing results.

We look forward to continuing to follow new developments from Ghana over time and continuing to be a close supporter of the work of Ghana’s Ministry of Gender, Children, and Social Protection.


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#tbt: There is No “Silver Bullet” by Jake Kendall

Delegates from the 2000 Microcredit Summit in Zimbabwe

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We are pleased to bring you this #ThursdayThrowback blog post, which was originally published in The State of the Microcredit Summit Campaign Report, 2011. We hope this will encourage you to reflect on the idea that all new ideas are old.


>>Authored by Jake Kendall, Research Fellow, The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

The poor are diverse and so are their needs for financial tools

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Download the full 2011 State of the Campaign Report in our Resource Library

The past few years have seen the release of an initial round of results from randomized field trials looking into the impacts of various savings, credit and insurance services on the livelihoods of poor clients. They have been somewhat disappointing to those in the financial inclusion field who expected that they would provide clear marching orders.

Despite failure of many of these studies to find much of a poverty reduction impact on average, digging beneath the surface shows what appears to be a wide variation in both the rates of uptake of the products and in the impacts of the products on different segments of clients. This is not surprising. Financial services are primarily used to manage gaps in income or to generate lump sums for large purchases, investments or emergencies. Individuals will differ in their need to for these services. Thus, we would expect to see differences in uptake and impact. The early evidence seems to confirm that this is the case.

As examples, two recent studies of microfinance credit offerings — Banerjee, Duflo, Glennerster, and Kinnan (2009) studying Spandana in India and Karlan and Zinman (2009) studying First Macro Bank in Manila — do not show any improvement over 14-18 months in basic welfare indicators from providing credit to the general population. They do, however, show large changes in investment behavior or in other outcomes for specific subgroups — e.g. in the India study, entrepreneurs expanded their businesses and those who had similar traits to entrepreneurs launched new ones.

There have been a few studies of the impacts of savings accounts recently as well. Studying rural savings in Kenya, Dupas and Robinson (2009) found savings accounts had impacts when given to women. The study found that women who participated were investing 45 percent more, had 27 to 40 percent higher personal expenditures, and were less likely to take money out of their businesses to deal with health shocks than women who were not offered savings accounts. On the other hand, there were no impacts for the men. Studying Green Bank of Caraga in the Philippines, Ashraf, Karlan and Yin (2006, 2010), find that “commitment savings accounts” do increase average savings among women and increase feelings of empowerment relative to those with regular savings accounts. However, they also found that only 28 percent of those offered the accounts decided to accept them. Studying Opportunity International Bank of Malawi (OIBM) Brune, Gine, Goldberg, and Yang (2010) recently produced data showing that Malawian farmers with “commitment savings accounts” had significantly higher investments in farm inputs, but because the study group is only farmers, it is not at all clear how these impacts would play out in other livelihood groups offered similar accounts. Thus, in the savings studies as well there seem to be very different responses from different groups.

The conclusions we can draw from these studies are limited. It seems clear (and again, not very surprising) that demand for and impact of the different products is often correlated with differences in gender, education, wealth, livelihood segment, etc. That said, the studies to date do not give very fine-grained or particularly insightful segmentations of their study samples. It’s not always easy in academic studies to get sample sizes large enough to do this. There are fundamental limits as to what RCTs can tell us regarding how different individuals or groups respond to a single treatment. Nevertheless, it would appear that a rich direction for future research would be to frame the academic evaluations of financial products more along the lines of how marketers and practitioners would frame them, by focusing on distinct customer segments and assessing the uptake or impact among these different groups.

In a possible exception to the above trend, Jack and Suri (2010) document that, after its launch in 2007, the M-PESA money transfer and e-wallet product reached over 70 percent of all Kenyan households and over 50 percent of the poor, unbanked, and rural populations by 2009. New accounts have even grown by 40 percent since then. The researchers have preliminary results indicating that M-PESA users are better able to maintain the level of consumption expenditures, and in particular food consumption, in the face of negative income shocks. While it’s almost certainly true that, here again, different segments of clients have different uses for the product, clearly most Kenyan households have some financial need that M-PESA fulfills, and by connecting people with the ability to transfer funds, M-PESA may simply be allowing them to transact with a wider and more diverse set of counterparties who can help with whatever particular need they may have.

E-Workshop Recap: Open Source Technology and Financial Inclusion

Dear Mr. Maina. Your loan instalment of Ksh. 1000 is due tomorrow. Asante Musoni. Using Open Source Technology to Expand Financial Inclusion. February 19th.

If you were not able to attend the E-Workshop, have a look at the Recording of the session and PowerPoint Slides

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On February 19th, the Mifos Initiative co-hosted with the Microcredit Summit Campaign an E-Workshop sharing insights on open source technology and integrating social performance management into their platform. The Mifos Initiative announced a Campaign Commitment in 2015 to promote poverty measurement tools through the integration of them into their cloud-based core banking system.

Here is what Ed Cable, director of community programs at The Mifos Initiative had to say about the event and the power of our global coalition of Campaign Commitment-makers:

MIFOS LogoThe Mifos Initiative and its global community is driven by creating a common technology foundation for the entire sector to convene around and collectively build new innovation to more deliver financial services to the base of the pyramid. We were honored to share the personal experiences of our community members during the E-Workshop and openly invite and welcome everyone to come join our community. It’s only through the united efforts of the global financial inclusion sector that we can achieve our Commitments to social performance excellence.

 Musoni app replacing paper forms

The E-Workshop also featured Musoni, which runs a mobile microfinance institution based in Kenya and developed the Musoni tablet app in 2012. The Musoni app is a user-friendly, affordable, and flexible platform that enables MFIs to register, track clients. (Musoni Systems, the firm that designed the app can help your MFIs to use the app as well.) This cloud-based app originally powered by Mifos increases efficiency of MFIs who can operate paperless with field staff collecting data on their tablets. The Musoni app already captures the Progress out of Poverty Index (PPI) data.

Cameron Goldie-Scot, CEO of Musoni Sytems, said of the E-Workshop,

Musoni logo“Musoni has always been committed to increasing the level of social performance measurement in the industry. It was great, therefore, to be able to explain the way we have integrated the PPI surveys into the Musoni System and to hear the feedback and questions from the other participants. In particular, I really enjoyed discussing the impact that tablets and smartphones have in making it easier for field officers to capture data remotely.”

Markus Geiss, a software developer involved with the Mifos Community, told us of his decision to work with Mifos and what he is enjoying as a volunteer in the Mifos Community. A long-time software developer, Markus was looking for a new project to work on that could have a strong impact on society. During the E-Workshop, he guided us through the Mifos X platform and explained us how Mifos is planning to integrate the PPI (Progress out of Poverty Index) in the coming months. Markus finds a real interest in working with Mifos because “sustainable open technologies will help not only the poor but provide better, safer and transparent financial services for all of us”.

Have a look at the recording of the session and PowerPoint Slides to know more about Mifos and Musoni. If you are interested in using the Mifos X platform, you can download it from Mifos website or also write them at info@mifos.org. And you can join the Mifos Community at their Annual Summit in Dubai next week, March 10-13.

Thank you to all panelists for demystifying how these open-source platforms can be a helpful tool in reaching the excluded. We also wish to thank all participants who submitted questions and comments and made the session interactive!

We invite you to join the Mifos Initiative in our global coalition to help 100 million families lift themselves out of poverty. State your Campaign Commitment by contacting us at mycommitment@microcreditsummit.org.


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2014 Report Sneak Peek: Going Digital Infographic

Like what you see? Excited to learn more? Join us TODAY at 3 PM for the launch of Resilience: The State of the Microcredit Summit Campaign Report, 2014. RSVP now!

Going Digital: Lower Costs, Better Services

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Paths to Ending Extreme Poverty by 2030: What will it take?

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Designing products and programs with the poorest and most vulnerable first in mind will lead to benefits for everyone. EspañolFrançais Continue reading

Discussions with practitioners in the field: What’s up with mBanking?

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Jesse Marsden, Research & Operations Manager at the Campaign, shares some of the practitioner viewpoints about mBanking gleaned from our joint research with Microfinance Opportunities. EspañolFrançais Continue reading

Call for Pitches! Last Chance for a FREE RIDE to the 2013 Summit

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Last Chance

for a FREE RIDE to the
2013 Partnerships against Poverty Summit in the Philippines

Call for Pitches!

Are you, or do you know, a business school or public policy student?

 Want to attend one of the largest gatherings of microfinance
practitioners in the industry – FREE?

Think you have an idea on cutting edge solutions to serving
the poor with mobile banking solutions?

Apply to pitch your idea to practitioners & investors at the
2013 Partnerships Against Poverty Summit
Oct 9-11 in Manila, Philippines

 Apply to pitch your idea at the 2013 Partnerships Against Poverty Summit in a session exploring the challenges and solutions for successfully launching mobile banking services for microfinance clients.

You’ll be presenting to real life practitioners from some of the leading microfinance institutions around the world, investors and funders looking to balance the social outcomes and financial sustainability of mobile, and market facilitation allies looking for new thinkers and doers to support effective solutions for serving poor clients.

And being at the summit will give you access to the hundreds of thought leaders, high-level government regulators, microfinance practitioners, media, civil society, product design experts, providers of support services, heads of institutional multinational banks, private sector businesses and heads of state.

And best of all, we’ll foot the bill!  Pitches selected will be eligible to have a representative of the developing team attend the Summit free of charge.

We are looking for Pitches of client-centered solutions that address one or more of the following themes:

  • Creating the cross sector linkages needed to ensure success
  • Understanding preferences and building client capacity to fully benefit from mobile services
  • Solving the pricing problem to balance financial sustainability with serving the very poor

If your pitch is selected, you’ll have the opportunity to work directly with microfinance institutions facing these challenges right now to develop your pitch for the Summit.  Pitches can be submitted individually or as a team – though teams will need to select one representative to deliver the pitch at the 2013 Partnerships Against Poverty Summit. 

To apply, send a 1 page statement of what theme you or your team will address and what makes your or your team the best for pitching a solution for your chosen topic.  Include a CV for yourself and any team members and which team member would represent you at the Summit if chosen.

DON’T WAIT!  Your 1 page statement is due THIS Friday the 20th

Deadline extended to Monday the 23rd at noon EST!

Send them to marsden@microcreditsummit.org

Strategic Partnership To Deliver Social Performance Assessments

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Moody’s and the Microfinance Centre (MFC) made an exciting announcement recently about a new strategic partnership to help microfinance institutions track and compare social performance with the Moody’s Analytics Social Performance Assessment (SPA), bringing attention to the important question of whether we are truly having a positive effect on the lives of the poorest and most vulnerable. Moreover, the SPA will help social investors to identify and support those MFIs that do.

Join us in the Philippines this October 9-11 for the 2013 Partnerships against Poverty Summit where representatives from Microfinance Opportunities, Moody’s Financial, and Alexandria Business Association – Small and Micro Enterprise will discuss how practitioners are using technology to better facilitate serving the poor and whether it can truly strengthen an institution’s social mission in the workshop “Mobile Banking: Perspectives on Challenges and Ways Forward.” Is it, in fact, a feasible means to serve the very poor? Join this panel to learn about solutions that will help make digital platforms more powerful resources for moving out of poverty.

Register today for the 2013 Summit! www.partnershipsagainstpoverty.org

Photo credit:  Equitas


Microfinance Centre to deliver Moody’s Analytics Social Performance Assessments

Warsaw, September 9, 2013 – Moody’s and the Microfinance Centre (MFC) have launched a new strategic partnership in Europe and Central Asia to deliver the Moody’s Analytics Social Performance Assessment (SPA) of microfinance institutions and operations.

This new partnership is part of Moody’s commitment to provide globally comparable assessments with local market expertise for microfinance programs. It also builds on the MFC’s vision for a sustainable and mission-focused industry. Moody’s Social Performance Group and the MFC are aligned in their commitment to ensure microfinance institutions assist the poor and underserved.

“Moody’s brings over 100 years experience in ratings and assessments while the Microfinance Centre was the first global player to work on social performance issues,” said Jody Rasch, Senior Vice President, Social Performance Group at Moody’s Analytics. “The Microfinance Centre brings a local practitioner’s perspective to the table and we are very excited to work with an organization with such a great track-record.”

“The Microfinance Centre continues to advance responsible finance and in particular social performance throughout Europe and Central Asia,” said Katarzyna Pawlak, Deputy Director of MFC. “Moody’s Analytics Social Performance Assessments will help those organizations track and compare performance, which will help bring needed attention of social investors to this sector.”

The SPA is based on a global methodology developed by Moody’s Analytics through extensive market research and participation from over 100 microfinance institutions, investors, and service providers including the Social Performance Task Force, the MIX, the SMART Campaign and others. The SPA uses a scale ranging from SP1, the highest grade, to SP5, the lowest.

About the Microfinance Centre
MFC is a regional microfinance resource center and network which brings together 103 organizations (including 78 MFIs) in 27 countries of Europe and Asia, who aid over 800,000 low-income clients. Its mission is to contribute to poverty reduction and the development of human potential by promoting a socially-oriented and sustainable microfinance sector that provides adequate financial and non-financial services to a large numbers of low income families and micro-entrepreneurs.

About Moody Analytics’ Social Performance Assessments
Moody Analytics’ SPA is an independent analysis of the operations of a microfinance institution that helps stakeholders better understand how effective it is at translating its social mission into practice.

Moody’s Analytics SPA has been recognized by the Clinton Global Initiative for contributing to the development of the microfinance industry through the creation of a comprehensive, global standard to measure social performance. Further information is available here.

About MFC’s Responsible Finance work
Since 1999, MFC has worked with practitioners and support organizations on impact assessments, social performance management, client protection, and social responsibility towards clients, shareholders, community and environment. Over 100 MFIs have benefited from MFC’s trainings, workshops, guidelines, advice and institutional assessments, and significantly more from awareness raising events. Learn more here.

About Moody’s Analytics
Moody’s Analytics helps capital markets and credit risk management professionals worldwide respond to an evolving marketplace with confidence. The company offers unique tools and best practices for measuring and managing risk through expertise and experience in credit analysis, economic research and financial risk management. By providing leading-edge software, advisory services, and research, including the proprietary analysis of Moody’s Investors Service, Moody’s Analytics integrates and customizes its offerings to address specific business challenges.

For more information please contact:
ABBAS QASIM
VP, Communication Moody’s Analytics
212.553.0041
abbas.qasim@moodys.com

LILIYA PESKOVA
Project Coordinator & Relationship Manager, Central Asia
Microfinance Centre
48.22.622.34.65 ext. 212
liliya@mfc.org.pl