News & Highlights What’s Happening

What’s Happening

Four New Smart Certified Microfinance Institutions in Eastern Europe and Central Asia

Washington, D.C. (June 3, 2014) – Four additional institutions have been Smart Certified in client protection, bringing the total number of Smart-Certified institutions to 18. Located in Eastern Europe and Central Asia, these institutions are:

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Client Protection Opportunities in Myanmar

Bangalore, INDIA (May 2014) –
This writing comes from Smart Campaign India Director Hema Bansal. She shares her experience  and takeaways from the Entrepreneurs du Monde Responsible Finance Seminar that took place in Myanmar in early May 2014:

As a child growing up in India, I was always intrigued by stories from Myanmar, but disturbed by conflicts that it had witnessed. Not knowing much about the country, as an adult I still had an innate desire to visit. On May 7th and 8th, I attended the Responsible Finance Seminar, organized by Entrepreneurs du Monde (EDM), held in Myanmar’s city of Yangon. I was completely awed by the mystical peace of the city, I was also impressed by the demonstrations of support at the seminar for instilling client protection in Myanmar’s microfinance industry. It’s a great opportunity for a young market to secure responsible practices from its outset.

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Giving Microfinance Clients a Voice

WASHINGTON, DC, UNITED STATES (April 2014)– The Smart Campaign has worked tirelessly for over five years to embed the Client Protection Principles into the microfinance sector, and increasingly, the broader financial inclusion community. Yet until now, the Campaign has had minimal input from the very clients whose well-being drives the entire movement.

In order to better understand the concerns and experiences of the individuals who use microfinance, the Campaign has launched a client voice research and learning project. Through listening directly to clients, market stakeholders can raise awareness, dialogue with each other to identify potential issues, and in turn integrate this learning into their work. The Smart Campaign has a unique role in shining a light on potentially harmful or negative experiences that low-income users of financial services have had and bringing those experiences to the attention of those who can do something about them.

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Certification fulfilling a sector need in financial inclusion

WASHINGTON, DC, UNITED STATES (March 2014)– In Dean Karlan’s January 2014 publication “Innovation, Inclusion and Trust: The Role of Non-Profit Organisations in Microfinance,” the noted development economist and researcher mentions the Smart Campaign Certification program as an example of how NGOs can build trust among low-income populations.  Karlan writes how NGOs are well positioned to play a role “to provide information to these populations, both on which for-profit institutions are trustworthy, and on product choice.”   Karlan uses the Smart Campaign’s Client Protection Certification program as a case study to demonstrate this point, with certification serving to distinguish the quality of institutional practices. The case study mentions that “Certification status will inform industry stakeholders, such as investors’ decisions about supporting organisations and regulators’ efforts to better understand and address client protection issues of microfinance service providers.”

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Ujjivan celebrates client protection commitments

BANGALORE, INDIA (February 12th, 2014) – Bangalore-based microfinance institution, Ujjivan, has much celebrate for the past year. Ujjivan was one of the first microfinance institutions to become client protection certified shortly after the launch of the Smart Campaign program. In December 2013, Ujjivan and the other client protection certified Indian MFIs (Bangalore-based Grameen Koota, Chennai-based Equitas, Varanasi-based Cashpor, and Mumbai-based Swadhaar) were brought together for an event in New Delhi at the Microfinance India Summit to recognize their full adherence to the standards and indictors of client protection.

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Smart Campaign welcomes new Steering Committee members

WASHINGTON, DC, UNITED STATES (February 11th 2014) – The Smart Campaign is governed by a Steering Committee comprised of microfinance and financial inclusion leaders from around the globe. The Steering Committee is integral to the success of the Campaign in that it provides crucial feedback to ensure that Campaign activities are relevant, well-targeted and take into account industry needs and priorities.

The Campaign is very pleased to announce several new members of the Steering Committee that represent the Secretariat’s commitment to geographic and stakeholder diversity. The new members are:

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BancoSol and Swadhaar Recognized for Strong Client Protection

Washington, DC, (January 7th 2014) – Accion partners BancoSol and Swadhaar, located in Bolivia and India, respectively, have recently been certified by the Smart Campaign for demonstrating high standards of client protection. The Smart Campaign’s Certification program publicly recognizes those institutions providing financial services to low-income households whose standards of care uphold the Smart Campaign’s seven Client Protection Principles, which cover such critical areas such as pricing; transparency; fair and respectful treatment; and prevention of over-indebtedness.

“We at BancoSol are very happy to learn we’ve been certified by the Smart Campaign,” said Kurt Koenigsfest, CEO. “This will make us work even harder to make sure that our clients know their rights, are treated will all respect and consideration, that we follow transparent practices and, above all, that clients from the base of the pyramid have more and better opportunities to get out of poverty.”

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Central Bank of Sudan Organizes and Hosts Country’s First CPP Seminar

WASHINGTON, DC, UNITED STATES (March 2014)– On December 19, 2013, the Microfinance Unit at the Central Bank of Sudan organized and hosted the country’s first seminar on the Seven Client Protection Principles in a session called, “Protection of Microfinance Clients in Sudan”.  70 people attended including the former state Minister for Finance and National Economy, the Deputy Chairman of the economic committee in the National Assembly, MFI directors, government advisors, insurance company representatives, the Director of the Sudanese Microfinance Development Company, the Sudanese consumer protection society, journalists, and television channel reporters.   

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Five Indian Microfinance Institutions Certified for Keeping Clients First

NEW DELHI, INDIA, (December 10th 2013) – The Smart Campaign, a global initiative to incorporate strong client-protection practices into the microfinance industry, on Monday December 9th publicly recognized 5 Indian institutions that have become Client Protection Certified for meeting strong standards of client care: Bangalore-based Ujjivan and Grameen Koota, Chennai-based Equitas, Varanasi-based Cashpor and Mumbai-based Swadhaar.

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Three New Certified Organizations

Washington, D.C. (October 9, 2013) – The Smart Campaign, a global initiative to incorporate strong client protection practices across the microfinance industry, today announced the first three microfinance institutions in Latin America to become Client Protection Certified for meeting strong standards of client care: Pro Mujer Mexico, and Fundación Mundo Mujer Popayan and Crezcamos in Colombia. They join six other institutions from Eastern Europe and South Asia that have all been certified since the program launched in January 2013. Together, the nine certified institutions serve more than 2.1 million clients worldwide and there are many more institutions on their way to certification.

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