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Social Performance Working Group Asia: SPI Certification by CERISE

by on Apr 12, 2013  |  posted in Uncategorized  |  0 Comments
In 2012, the Social Performance Working Group (SPWG) Asia came together to build the capacity of member networks on the use of social audits, in particular the Social Performance Indicators (SPI) tool developed by CERISE (Comité d’Echange, de Réflexion et d’Information sur les Systèmes d’Epargne-crédit). As part of a SEEP initiative to form a working group for networks promoting the social mission in microfinance, the Social Performance Working Group (SPWG) was created in 2009 in collaboration with the Social Performance Task Force (SPTF). The working group consists of five regional working groups in Asia, Africa, Latin America, Eastern Europe, and the Middle East. With twelve national networks from ten Asian countries (Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, India, Lao PDR, Nepal, Pakistan, Philippines, Sri Lanka and Vietnam) forming the core membership of the group, the SPWG Asia represents a diverse set of network associations in the region. At the onset of 2012, the SPWG Asia devised a work plan for the year based on voting for pertinent themes and activities by the members. The highest votes received were for ‘capacity building on social audits’ because as Lalaine M. Joyas of the Microfinance Council of the Philippines, Inc. (MCPI) explained, social audits present a good ‘entry point’ for MFIs and other practitioners to learn about Social Performance Management (SPM). The SPWG Asia set up its strategy on social audits through a main activity entitled the “SPWG Asia Regional Meeting and CERISE Social Audit Training”, which took place on February 20-22, 2012 in Bangkok, Thailand. The culmination of the working groups’ efforts in 2012 can be viewed in detail in the following field note: Social Performance Working Group (SPWG) Asia: CERISE SPI Certification in Social Audits for Associations. The SPWG Asia Regional Meeting and CERISE Social Audit Training were made possible through the efforts of various donors and co-sponsors, whom members of the SPWG Asia reached out to specifically for this purpose. SEEP, CERISE, Plan International, OikoCredit, Grameen Crédit Agricole Microfinance Foundation and Incofin, all played a role in ensuring full participation from the SPWG Asia core members. Upon completion of the training by CERISE, the working group drafted an action plan in which all national networks would complete social audits for two member microfinance institutions (MFIs) in 2012, adding up to a total of twenty-four social audits for Asia. CERISE continued to work closely with the networks throughout the year to review their social audits and facilitate the process of network certification on the SPI tool. In terms of the participants’ experiences, networks members found the CERISE SPI tool comprehensive, well-structured and convenient to use. At the same time, networks feel that certain dimensions within the tool could be considered more or less relevant depending on the country-specific contexts, in which case greater flexibility would be helpful in terms of scores and weightages applied to different dimensions in the tool. SPWG Asia members all appreciate the potential benefits of using social audits to highlight strengths and weaknesses in SPM mainstreaming in the sector. Furthermore, some Asian networks have since shared plans to conduct more social audits in 2013; this now being one of the innovative services to be provided by Asian networks to their member MFIs. A point of contention here is the issue of funding for regular and systematic SPI audits – whether this would be something MFIs are willing to pay for, or if the networks will continue to support their members through cost-sharing or other facilities. Overall, the findings from social audits in 2012 revealed a number of common areas in which Asian MFIs would need to improve upon their SPM. While comparative analysis is useful in this respect, the report also highlights the need for individual, customized strategies depending on networks’ capacities to institutionalize and carry forward the social audit mission at the country level. About the Authors: Khadija Ali works as social responsibility associate at the PMN, facilitating the work of the Social Analyst in areas of client protection, social performance and financial education. Within these initiatives, she has been involved in the successful completion of several projects, including a 2012 World Bank project to develop learning and training modules on financial literacy for cash transfer program beneficiaries in Pakistan (primarily the beneficiaries of BISP and CDCP).  Zahra Khalid  is managing the responsible finance portfolio at PMN including the social performance, client protection, and financial education initiatives, and has been closely involved in these initiatives since 2009. She has background experience in microfinance research and has been part of various research teams to publish industry research at the network. Since 2011, she has also served as a Board member of the Social Performance Task Force (SPTF), and served as regional facilitator for the Asia region on the global microfinance associations’ Social Performance Working Group during 2011-12. 

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