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Client Protection: The State of Practice (A look at client protection practices in Pakistan’s microfinance industry)

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This MicroNote primarily draws on the results of the 10 Smart Assessments conducted for MFPs in Pakistan during 2013. These 10 MFPs account for approximately 70 percent of the market in terms of number of clients and approximately 65 percent in terms of gross loan portfolio.

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Crezcamos’ Welcome Kit

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The objective in the development of this kit was part of a series of strategic activities that Crezcamos carried out to strengthen its practices in client protection. The kit was developed with the guidance of the Smart Campaign tool ‘Essential Documents for New Clients.’

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Maintaining Transparency Through Brochures: Ujjivan

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Ujjivan provides comprehensive brochures to prospective clients, such as marketing and training materials for Compulsory Group Trainings (CGT) which enable a client to take the information home, discuss it with family and friends and get their buy-in, or use it to compare loan products before making a decision about taking a new loan.

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Smart Note: Designing Products based on Customer Requirements: Unique Approaches of SEWA Bank and IFMR (KGFS model), India

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This tool documents and presents two distinct, but successful approaches of SEWA Bank and IFMR in understanding client (member) requirements and designing products that meet their requirements. 

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SPTF Universal Standards Implementation Example (How Bandhan Trains and Evaluates Credit Staff)

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This case study demonstrates how Bandhan Financial Services Pvt. Ltd. implements Essential Practices from Dimension 5 (Treat Employees Responsibly) of the Universal Standards for SPM. Other financial service providers can use this example to improve their own Human Resources policies and practices.

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Monitoring Individual Repayment in Group Guarantee Mechanism

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“Monitoring Individual Repayment in Group Guarantee Mechanism” shares the experiences and discussions on how best to track the exercises of group guarantees at the individual level in the sector comparing the structured approach of MBK in Indonesia and the more informal approach Utkarsh in India. The tool demonstrates two simple approaches of monitoring the implementation of group guarantees.

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Client Protection for Youth Clients (UNCDF – YouthStart Technical Note)

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This technical note is intended to assist Financial Service Providers currently serving youth, planning to serve youth, or making improvements to existing services to do so in a way that ensures that youth are protected. The technical note synthesizes adaptations made by UNCDF – YouthStart to the indicators of the Smart Campaign´s self-assessment tool.

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Refinancing Policy – FUBODE

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One document that called our attention was FUBODE’s rescheduling and refinancing policy, one that many MFIs lack. FUBODE Kindly agreed to share their policy with the industry so as to foment best practices.  This document should be used as a starting point for any MFI who wants to improve their restructuring and rescheduling policies as per the Smart Campaign Principles.

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Client Education Tools

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This list represents tools and resources that are models of client protection focused client education materials, chosen to help microfinance institutions communicate to their clients about their rights and responsibilities. The resources are from diverse regions and institution types.

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Smart Note: Responding to a Crisis at FUNDESER

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The Smart Note, “Responding to a Crisis at Fundeser” describes how the MFI dealt with the aftermath of both the worldwide credit crisis and the internal No Pay Movement (Movimiento No Pago). It explains how the institution overhauled its Human Resource department in an effort to steer the institution to recovery.

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Smart Note: Treating Clients with Respect at Fundación Mundo Mujer Popayán

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This Smart Note describes how Fundación Mundo Mujer Popayán developed a stronger pro-client attitude. They developed a set of complementary policies, that, unlike previous material, use specific problem situations to address potential weaknesses in client protection practices.

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Nondiscrimination Policy of Fundación Paraguaya

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Fundación Paraguaya has shared its non-discrimination policy, which makes part of their Code of Ethics, with the Smart Campaign to be used as a tool for other institutions to emulate as they strive to implement non-discrimination policies of their own.

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Smart Note: Hiring Staff with Disabilities at AccessBank, Azerbaijan

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This Smart Note focuses on the efforts of AccessBank Azerbaijan to practice non-discrimination among employees through deliberate efforts to hire people with disabilities. Additionally, the Smart Note provides a testimonial from one of AccessBank’s employees about his experience as a person with disabilities working as a cashier at the MFI.

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Codes of Conduct and the Role of Microfinance Associations in Client Protection

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The technical note explores the variety of reasons why and how associations may choose to adopt and promote self-regulation through a Code of Ethics or Code of Conduct. In the note, three case examples illustrate different approaches taken by associations in India, Pakistan, and Mexico.

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Illustrations and Activities for Training Loan Officers on Customers’ Rights and Responsibilities (Sahayata Micro Finance Pvt. Ltd.)

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In March 2011, the Smart Campaign issued a Call for Tools to the microfinance industry: “Training Staff for Ethical Behavior.” Sahayata Micro Finance Pvt. Ltd. (India) shared with the Campaign their illustrations and activities for training loan officers on customer rights and responsibilities.

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Code of Conduct E-Learning Module (Grameen Financial Services Pvt. Ltd.)

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Grameen Financial Services Pvt. Ltd. (GFSPL) shared with the Campaign its Code of Conduct E-Learning Module, which is used to test employee knowledge of the institution’s Code of Conduct.  GFSPL’s code was created based on other codes endorsed by leading microfinance bodies in India as well as the guidelines offered by the Smart Campaign

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Code of Conduct for Collections and Collections Practices for Group Loans at Swadhaar FinServe Pvt. Ltd.

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Swadhaar FinServe Pvt. Ltd. shared their Code of Conduct for Collections and their Collections Practices for Group Loans, both of which provide collections staff with specific guidelines and procedures for treating clients with dignity. The Smart Campaign encourages other institutions to review this good practice.

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Implementing the Client Protection Principles: A Technical Guide for Investors, 2nd Edition

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This guide provides an updated set of action steps for investors, including a new due diligence tool that provides practical guidance and tips on how to assess implementation of client protection practices by retail providers. This guide also reflects on the main operational questions investors are facing, such as how to assess over-indebtedness and transparent and responsible pricing, and emerging responses.

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Loan Agreement for Small Business Clients (JSC MFO Crystal)

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JSC Microfinance Organization Crystal, Georgia shared its plain language loan contract with The Smart Campaign.  This contract is used with clients seeking small businesses credit. The contract is succinct, written in plain language, and uses very little jargon.

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Loan Contract Summary Handout (Mibanco)

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Mibanco also provides clients with a loan contract summary so that clients can easily and efficiently understand the most pertinent points of their full loan contracts. Mibanco uses this tool to verbally review the contract highlights, including the loan information, insurance costs/benefits, early repayment fees, and obligations of the guarantors.

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Banco Solidario: Loan Officer Training Manual

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Banco Solidario shared with the Campaign their Loan Officer Manual, which includes a Code of Ethics for credit staff and procedures for financial and non-financial evaluation. The Code of Ethics gives loan officers full responsibility for client capacity analysis, and the manual guides loan officers thorough the analysis process.

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Complaints-Analysis Spreadsheet (Fundacion Delamujer)

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Fundacion Delamujer has shared with the Campaign their complaints analysis spreadsheet for monitoring and classifying complaints. It is intended to divide complaints according to their importance, type, and branch. 

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Complaints-Handling Manual (Tamweelcom)

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Tamweelcom  in Jordan has provided the Campaign with their Complaints Handling Manual, which contains detailed scripts of telephone interactions with clients, a flow chart of the complaints process within the institution, as well as their internal forms to be filled out by both clients and staff when a complaint is lodged. 

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Opportunity Bank Serbia: Loan Calculator

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Opportunity Bank Serbia shared with the Campaign their Loan Calculator Toolkit for determining the appropriate loan size for a potential client. Based heavily on information gathered from the national credit bureau, this Excel-based tool requires a thorough evaluation of the client’s business, family income, and existing debt.

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Fonkoze: Guide for Credit Agents — Evaluating Clients for Fonkoze’s Post-Disaster Recovery Program

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Fonkoze shared with the Campaign their “Guide for Credit Agents: Evaluating Clients for Fonkoze’s Post-Disaster Recovery Program,” which guides credit agents in disbursing credit in a post-disaster environment—a time when microfinance clients are particularly vulnerable to over-indebtedness.

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Complaints-Handling Brochure for Clients (Opportunity Bank)

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Opportunity Bank Serbia has shared with the Campaign a client brochure detailing exactly where and how to lodge a complaint. The brochure provides clients with a list of steps for introducing a complaint or suggestion through various means and next steps and what to do if the client is not happy with the outcome.

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Complaints-Handling Manual (FONDESURCO)

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FONDESURCO in Peru shared their Complaints-Handling Manual with the Campaign. The manual carefully describes the complaints process and who is responsible for each piece.

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Microfund for Women: Client Business Evaluation Toolkit

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Microfund for Women shared with the Campaign their toolkit for assessing the repayment capacity of individual borrowers. Consisting of a total of four forms—including the loan application—this toolkit provides credit staff a complete profile of the health of the potential client’s business, and their capacity to take on debt. 

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KazMicroFinance: How to Assess Client Businesses

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KazMicroFinance shared with the Campaign their PowerPoint training for loan officers, “How to Assess Client Businesses.” This short presentation trains loan officers in how to thoroughly evaluate a potential client.

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Smart Note: Building Institutional Culture Around a Code of Ethics at Compartamos

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Compartamos trains all new recruits on the Code of Ethics. The Smart Campaign encourages institutions to download and review this documents as an example of a well-organized, concise overview of a detailed Code of Ethics document.

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Security is the Key: Pocket Guide to Financial Security for Clients

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Finamerica provides a pocket-size brochure with tips about how to protect one’s security and prevent identity theft, robberies, and other possible threats to the privacy of their personal information.

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Best Practices in Collections Strategies

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ACCION International explains the collections process it employs and draws on its experiences with collections programs throughout Latin America and with new collaborations in India. Read more about the best practices that a microfinance institution should consider when attempting to successfully implement collections activities.

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How to Talk to a Bank: A Brochure for Consumers

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This brochure by Procredit Bank explains to Serbian consumers how banking operations work and how to communicate with bankers. MFIs can create brochures similar to Procredit’s to ensure that their clients know how to ask about the terms and conditions of the services that are being marketed to them.

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Calculating Transparent Prices Tool from MicroFinance Transparency

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MicroFinance Transparency offers a basic tool to help microfinance institutions understand the factors that influence the “effective interest rate” or the APR. MFIs can use this tool to for calculating their own effective interest rates, thereby demonstrating transparent for the pricing of their loan products to anyone who asks.

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Debt Management Guide

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The National Credit Regulator (NCR) of South Africa publishes a debt management guide that provides basic information about how to identify over-indebtedness, tips on how to avoid and deal with over-indebtedness, consumers’ rights, how to access a debt counselor and tips on how to avoid and deal with money-scams, repossessions and surrenders.

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Client Protection and Ethics Codes: Examples for Getting Started

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A number of organizations have already adopted either client protection or ethics codes and charters. Following are links to some organizations who have shared their internal codes with the Campaign.

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Due Diligence Checklist for Investors

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This Checklist for Investors is the product of collaboration between CGAP, The Smart Campaign, and many investors. It draws on investor practice and experience. This checklist is not designed as a standalone due diligence tool. Instead, it is designed to lower transaction costs by presenting questions to add to common due diligence topics.

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