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Support the Global Appeal for Responsible Microfinance

Published on September 21, 2012

Yesterday saw the launch of a worldwide effort to build momentum and commitment to financial inclusion and to responsible finance – the Global Appeal for Responsible Microfinance. This document articulates a vision for a fully responsible and responsive industry, and outlines a path forward for all relevant stakeholders.

Developed by Convergences 2015, in association with a collective of partners, including the members of the Microfinance CEO Working Group (Accion, FINCA, Freedom from Hunger, Grameen Foundation USA, Opportunity International, Pro Mujer, VisionFund International, and Women’s World Banking), the document is a revision from the “Paris Appeal for Responsible Microfinance”

More information about the Global Appeal for Responsible Microfinance can be found at www.appeldeparis.org

Please join us in endorsing the Global Appeal for Responsible Microfinance and to commit to implementing responsible practices and rules within your own organizations.

The Appeal calls for adherence to the  following principles:

  1. MFIs Serve Clients in a Responsible Manner. Microfinance institutions should apply the Smart Campaign’s Client Protection Principles and adhere to high standards of pricing transparency and fairness as promoted by MFTransparency. These initiatives represent some of the best thinking of the industry on how to protect the interests of clients. Organizations that endorse and cooperate with these initiatives can incorporate their suggested guidelines into policies, procedures, staff training, marketing, etc. Every interaction with clients should reflect these high standards, which form the foundation for responsible finance
  2. MFIs Advance the SPTF Universal Standards for Social Performance Management (USSPM). The Standards were developed with broad industry consensus, and now the task is to determine how to translate them into practice. The search for effective social performance is rooted in the ongoing concern to reach low-income and excluded populations and to provide clients with services that contribute to improving their quality of life in a potentially wide range of ways. Examples include reaching out to remote and excluded populations, offering a wide range of financial products and developing non-financial services.  Institutions need to ensure that their social mission and its relevant performance indicators are integrated into operations, and they should report systematically on social performance and make decisions in light of social performance indicators.
  3. MFIs Operate with Sound Governance and Financial Responsibility. Microfinance institutions can develop in a sustainable manner only if they inspire trust and confidence through effective governance, robust risk management and efficient report, control, and audit systems. These systems must be open to external supervision and rating according to transparent and objective methods.
  4. Regulators and Policy Makers Support a Sound Microfinance Sector. In many countries, MFIs still lack clear and appropriate regulation.  Policy makers and regulators have a responsibility to develop a policy environment that allows for the expansion of responsible, effective services to their citizens. Commitments should go beyond statements of support to outline plans for fostering the microfinance environment, complete with metrics. National and regional microfinance associations should be ready to engage a dialogue with policy makers, based on the guidelines of the Global Appeal, to establish rules and standards aimed at creating a sound and proportional regulatory framework.
  5. Investors in Microfinance Uphold the Principles for Investing in Inclusive Finance. Investors specialized in microfinance have a duty to act with due respect for the long-term interests of the institutions they support and to make financial independence their objective. This vision is based on compliance with an investors’ code of conductsuch as the Principles for Investors in Inclusive Finance developed with the support of the UN PRI. These principles not only confirm investor commitment to the Client Protection Principles and USSPM, they also ensure that investors treat investee institutions and other investors according to ethical and beneficial market conduct standards. For example they are intended to guarantee that the conditions, in particular of duration and guarantee, of their investments meet quality standards, that the rates and commissions charged are moderate, and that the assistance offered does not expose the financed institutions to an unreasonable currency exchange rate risk.
  6. Researchers Assist the Microfinance Industry to Learn.  Academics and researchers should intensify dialogue with the microfinance sector. They should continue to carry out objective studies, taking into account the diversity of local contexts. They are also encouraged to widely disseminate conclusions.
  7. Donors, International Financial Institutions and Foundations Support the Industry and Push Boundaries. Donors and foundations have an essential role to play in promoting good practices, encouraging innovation and supporting the expansion and diversification of microfinance activities. Aid programs should aim to reach the most underprivileged countries, population segments and economic sectors where microfinance can contribute to economic and social development, such as sub-Saharan Africa, the farming sector and marginalized groups. Particular attention should be paid to non-financial services, including counselling and education offered. These action priorities could be set out in a framework document on medium-term orientation, to be adhered to by the major international financial institutions, UN agencies, development banks, and cooperation agencies.

 

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