SC CVP banner

About

The  financial well-being of clients is the foundation of the Smart Campaign and its seven Client Protection Principles. Since 2009, the Campaign has certified over forty institutions and worked with leaders across the financial inclusion industry to amplify the importance placed on ‘doing no harm.’ 

As an industry facing campaign, Smart Campaign has engaged extensively with microfinance institutions, networks, investors, regulators and, rating agencies, but has had minimal input directly from clients themselves. To rectify this and augment clients’ the literal voice of clients in the campaign, and by extension the industry, the Client Voices project was born. The research aims to understand and shine the light on the experiences, concerns and worries of individuals who use microfinance services. 

Given the global importance of client protection, geographic diversity was key and four markets were selected: Benin, Georgia, Pakistan, and Peru. Since March 2014, the Smart Campaign and its research partner Bankable Frontier Associates (BFA) have conducted desk research and field work in all four markets.

Our Research Approach

After a competitive bid, The Campaign selected Bankable Frontier Associates (BFA) as its research partner. BFA is a global consulting firm with expertise in converting quantitative data and qualitative observations about the financial behavior of low income clients into actionable insights. BFA’s Managing Director, Daryl Collins, was the project’s Principal Investigator and the research was managed by Caitlin Sanford. Together the Smart Campaign and BFA designed the research methodology (more below) 

In each market the Smart Campaign set up National Advisory Councils to help guide the research at key inflection points including survey design and locations for qualitative research. These National Advisory Councils were made up of stakeholders including national associations, MFIs, regulators, investors etc. The partnership with National Advisory Councils in each market was critical, it provided a deep understanding of the country context, while moving forward, making the findings of this learning project actionable. You can read more about the individual markets’ NACs on the individual country pages. 

At a global level, the Campaign convened an International Advisory Council, a distinguished group of industry leaders and researchers to provide insight into the overall research approach. This group included:

  • Ms. Ann Miles, Director, Financial Inclusion, the MasterCard Foundation
  • Dr. Emily Breza, Assistant Professor, Columbia University Business School
  • Daryl Collins, Managing Director, Bankable Frontier Associates (BFA)
  • Dr. Elisabeth Rhyne, Managing Director, Center for Financial Inclusion at Accion (Chair)
  • Mr. Fernando Campero, Lead Specialist, Multilateral Investment Fund Access to Finance Unit
  • Dr. Jessica Schicks, Chief Operating Officer, AB Bank Zambia Limited
  • Dr. Jhumka Gupta, Assistant Professor, Department of Global and Community Health, George Mason University  
  • Dr. Kim Wilson, Lecturer and Senior Fellow, Fletcher School at Tufts University.
  • Dr. Monique Cohen, Independent Consultant
  • Mr. Rafe Mazer, Financial Sector Specialist, CGAP
  • Dr. Susan Johnson, Senior Lecturer, University of Bath
  • Dr. Xavier Gine, Lead Economist at Development Research Group, World Bank

The vision of raising awareness on the experiences of low-income microfinance clients is one shared by our partners: Accion and MasterCard Foundation. With their financial support, we have had the opportunity to shed light on this important topic.

Methodology

Research during the Client Voices project was conducted in two phases in each country.  In the first phase, BFA employed several qualitative research methods including Focus Group Discussions, Individual Interviews and the Zaltman Metaphor Elicitation Technique  to understand the issues and concerns of microfinance clients in each Client Voices country.  Based on this research, bespoke quantitative surveys were designed to determine the prevalence of these concerns at the national level.  BFA made efforts to cover key topics in all countries, but surveys were not uniform to incorporate the unique conditions of each market.  Research methods were designed in collaboration with the Smart Campaign and with substantial valuable feedback from members of the IAC and NAC in each country.  More details on the sampling approach for each country are contained in the country reports.


 

Synthesis Report

My Turn to Speak: Voices of Microfinance Clients

My Turn to Speak coverThe “My Turn to Speak: Voices of Microfinance Clients in Benin, Pakistan, Peru and Georgia” report summarizes and analyses the key findings, takeaways, and recommendations across the four comprehensive country reports. The report encapsulates the voices of over 4,500 current and former microfinance clients in Benin, Georgia, Pakistan and Peru, sharing their experiences with financial providers and their thoughts on what constitutes good and bad treatment. The Client Voices project aims to identify and contextualize clients’ concerns and experiences in the microfinance industry, and to catalyze improvement of client protection across stakeholder groups.

Between May 2014 and October 2015, Bankable Frontier Associates (BFA) carried out qualitative and quantitative research in the four countries. The Campaign also composed an International and four National Advisory Councils to support the project. The key Client Protection Principles that emerged as priority areas are: Transparency, Mechanisms for Complaint Resolution, and Fair and Respectful Treatment of Clients.

What did the clients have to share?

For more information »


 

Country Reports

Voices from Rwanda

Client Voice Rawada

Today there are close to 700 million mobile money accounts registered worldwide — a number that, if it were a population, would rank as the world’s third-largest country. East Africa continues to lead in digital financial innovations as well as account usage, with two-thirds of the combined adult populations of Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Uganda actively using mobile money. With the proliferation of mobile financial services, particularly among underserved populations, it is vital that users be treated fairly and with dignity. In the momentum to define responsible digital finance and recognize providers of high-quality financial services, the industry must not forget the consumer.

For more information »

 

Voices from Benin

Voices from Benin coverBenin’s microfinance industry continues to grow and the country boasts the largest number of institutions in the West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU).  The client protection principles are relatively new to the sector and, coupled with limited regulatory oversight. Between May-October 2014, BFA conducted qualitative and quantitative data collection, guided by a National Advisory Council chaired by the Alafia Network. The specific Client Protection Principles that emerge from the client voices in Benin as priority areas for creating a more protective microfinance industry include Transparency, Fair and respectful treatment of clients, and Mechanisms for complaint resolution. What did client voices in Benin tell us?

For more information »

 

Voices from Georgia

Voices from Georgia coverGeorgia’s microfinance industry’s robust regulatory framework is undergoing reform. The Consumer Protection Division is in the process of becoming an independent agency, highlighting the country’s ongoing dedication to client protection. The reform makes the Client Voice report research timely. Between March and July 2015, BFA conducted qualitative and quantitative research to determine the concerns of microfinance clients in Georgia, guided by the National Advisory Council. The Client Protection Principles of concern that emerge from Client Voice research in Georgia are: Prevention of Over-Indebtedness, Appropriate Product Design and Delivery, and Transparency. What did client voice in Georgia tell us?

For more information »

 


Voices from Pakistan

Voices from Pakistan coverPakistan has a thriving microfinance sector and one of the most enabling regulatory environments among microfinance markets globally. From March to October 2014 BFA conducted qualitative and quantitative research in the provinces of Punjub and Sindh, the regions most saturated by microfinance.  The research was guided by the local National Advisory Council, convened by the Pakistan Microfinance Network (PMN).  The specific Client Protection Principles that emerge from the client voices in Pakistan  as priority areas for creating a more protective microfinance industry include Transparency, Fair and respectful treatment of clients, and Mechanisms for complaint resolution. What did client voices in Pakistan  have to tell us?

For more information »

 

Voices from Peru

Voices from Peru coverPeru’s has the most conducive environment for microfinance, as evidenced by its top position in the Economist Intelligence Unit’s 2015 Global Microscope. It has one of Latin America’s leading client protection regulatory frameworks. From January through July 2015, BFA conducted qualitative and quantitative research in Peru to determine the biggest concerns of microfinance clients. The Client Protection Principles of concern that emerged during the research are Prevention of Over-Indebtedness, Transparency, and Fair and Respectful Treatment of Clients. What did client voices in Peru tell us?

For more information »