It might sound a bit technical, but it’s quite simple really: Social Performance Management is the way we make sure we’re achieving our aim of helping the poorest women in rural Africa transform their lives by lifting themselves and their families out of poverty.
There are a few areas we focus on:
- Poverty outreach & poverty change – By measuring how poor the women we work with are, and whether this changes over the time we support them, we can see whether we are doing what we aim to be doing. We measure this using the “Progress out of Poverty Index” (PPI). Again, it sounds pretty confusing, but it’s actually a very simple questionnaire that our Loan Officers ask our clients on a regular basis. The result is a score that tells us the likelihood that the respondent’s household is living below the national poverty line. With this data, we can review the services we provide and make sure we are having the biggest impact possible.
- Client protection – We have a Rights & Responsibilities document which MicroLoan staff and clients commit to before loans are disbursed. It covers the responsibilities of the client e.g. supporting other women in the group, following MicroLoan Foundation’s procedures. And it also covers the responsibilities of MicroLoan staff e.g. to treat clients with respect, to never accept payment or gifts for their services etc. We also have a Code of Ethics that all staff in the UK and Africa must sign which lays out our commitment to treating clients fairly and with respect at all times. It covers a lot of bases, including:
- Appropriate collection practices – e.g. not seizing assets from the client if they can’t repay their loan
- Respecting donors – MicroLoan would not exist without the generosity of our donors, so all staff must commit to ensuring MicroLoan funds are spent in the most efficient and cost-effective manner possible
- Zero tolerance to bribery and corruption.
- Client needs – Our SPM helps us understand whether we are meeting the needs of the women we support. For example, research we carried out a few years ago demonstrated that we could reach even poorer women by providing smaller loans, specifically targeted at women who had never done any business before and might be put off by the savings requirement of our standard loans.
- Client training – Our SPM has helped us understand the importance of the training we provide, so over the past couple of years we have re-developed our training to make it more frequent and detailed. We have also made it more participatory (e.g. using role plays) so it is accessible to all clients, including those who have limited or no reading and writing skills. Training is now given both before a loan is disbursed, and every two weeks after a loan is given, to ensure the continued success of our client’s businesses.
MicroLoan Foundation Malawi is now a Truelift Aspirant
MicroLoan Foundation achieved the first, ‘Aspirant’ level, in 2014 and has been recognized for the second ‘Emerging’ level milestone in May 2015. Truelift is a trust mark to signify commitment to positive and enduring change for people living in poverty and has defined four milestones on the journey to better serve clients living in poverty.
At the 2014 Microcredit Summit in Mexico, MicroLoan Foundation Malawi was presented with its Truelift Aspirant Milestone Certificate.
As a Truelift Aspirant, MLF has taken the first step in demonstrating its commitment and intent to reach, provide services for, and create positive results for clients living in poverty.
“We are delighted to be recognized by Truelift for our ongoing commitment to improving the lives of women. We focus on working with poor clients, developing products and services which meet their needs, and tracking their change and progress. Our ongoing commitment means we continue to learn and develop our services, our products, and ways of measuring client success. We look forward to the next step on the Truelift journey!” explains Peter Ryan, CEO and Founder of MicroLoan Foundation.
For more information on SPM, and how other organizations implement it, please visit: Social Performance Task Force website