Kicking off our guest blog series of the year, e-MFP members Cerise+SPTF present the new SPI Online platform, giving the background to its development and the evolution of social performance management in the financial inclusion sector.

It’s been more than 20 years since Cerise+SPTF built the first version of the SPI (Social Performance Indicators) audit tools in collaboration with purpose-driven organisations from the inclusive finance industry. Cerise and its founding members built the first version of the SPI audit tools in 2001, in collaboration with microfinance institutions and sector professionals. Our objective? To help financial service providers achieve their social missions. Once SPTF developed the Universal Standards for Social Performance Management (USSPM), Cerise updated the SPI to be aligned with the Universal Standards, and since then we review and update both resources jointly. In 2020, Cerise+SPTF created a digital version of the SPI. To date, over 800 unique organisations around the globe have used the SPI, and many integrate SPI evaluations into their ongoing performance monitoring.

This year, Cerise+SPTF has launched a new version of SPI Online that offers free-to-use resources and assessment tools aligned with the most updated version of the Universal Standards for Social and Environmental Performance Management, which now include a mandatory seventh dimension on environmental performance management. (Note: Dimension 7 of the Universal Standards and the e-MFP GICSF-AG’s Green Index 3.0 are fully aligned at the concept level of the standards and essential practices.)

SPI Online is a free, one-stop platform for anyone with an interest in managing social and environmental performance–financial service providers, impact investors, regulators, auditors, and other types of social businesses. Experts and newcomers to social and environmental performance can find the adapted audit tools and the technical resources to help them turn intentions into impact.

SPI Online audit tools also measure compliance with a range of leading international standards including the Sustainable Development Goals, the UN Global Compact, and standards developed by the ILO and OECD.

On January 31st, Cerise+SPTF hosted a webinar called “SPI Online Showtime” to share the new online platform with our global community. 320 participants joined live, from every major stakeholder group and from all over the world. This high level of participation shows momentum for social and environmental performance management (SEPM), which is guiding our common journey toward a “better, stronger, greener impact in emerging economies” (Monique Cohen, Chairwoman of Cerise). Many stakeholders shared their appreciation for how the SPI audit tools have helped their organisations, and our sector, to be more sustainable and to create benefits for clients.

You can watch the replay here.

"Our joint venture Cerise+SPTF has become the reference for social and environmental performance management
in the space of financial inclusion and purpose-driven businesses. We apply a fully integrated approach
including setting and promotion of standards, assessment, and improvement
of practices, reporting, benchmarking and practice demonstrations."
- Loïc de Cannière, Chairman of SPTF, Impact Investment Professional at Incofin.

The SPI Online platform gives access to training, news, co-funding, a database of experts (SEPM Professionals Network), an exhaustive resource centre (library and guide for auditing and implementing SEPM), and a technical help centre with answers to users’ frequently asked questions. Anyone can sign in on SPI Online to access the suite of 7 tools and start auditing.

"Ultimately there is a collective responsibility to use the best tools in the market because if investors and
other stakeholders are using it then ultimately the financial service providers have a tool where they
present their information in a standardised way to a platform that becomes available to many stakeholders.
The more stakeholders that are using that, the more beneficial it becomes for the FSPs,
and the better the data becomes for benchmarking and trends."
-  Frank Streppel, Head of Global investments at Triodos

One innovation on the new SPI Online platform is the suite of complementary assessment tools. The most comprehensive assessment tool is the SPI Full, but Cerise+SPTF also created six other tools, each using a different subset of the indicators in the SPI Full, to allow financial service providers to focus on the management practices that are most relevant to their current goals. Using a common set of indicators reduces the users' reporting burden with a common framework and complementary functionalities. Each tool generates specific social and environmental dashboards to summarize gaps and strengths and identify the actions for improvement.

Audit Pathways and Tools
The suite of tools is designed for 3 pathways to assess, manage and report:

  1. The Universal Standards Pathway
  2. The Client Protection Pathway
  3. The Green Pathway

  4 tools are dedicated to the Universal Standards Pathway

  • With the ESG risk tool, you will measure ESG compliance and better manage social and environmental risks. The tool is aligned with the current European regulation (SFDR) and key international standards, such as the International Labor Organization standards for decent work.
  • The tool ALINUS is designed as a due diligence tool across the seven dimensions of the Universal Standards, to let investors screen, monitor and report the social and environmental practices of their investees. With ALINUS, you get 3 reports: ESG Risk for reporting, ALINUS for your investment committee, and CP Commit to guide your investees on Client Protection.
  • With SPI5 Entry, you will take the first step on your social and environmental performance management journey.
  • And going further, SPI5 Full includes all indicators of the Universal Standards and all indicators of Client Protection. You will get a comprehensive social and environmental performance assessment.

 2 tools focus on the Client Protection Pathway:

  • With CP Commit, a sub-set of ALINUS, you will have an overview of the fundamental practices of client protection and a first step on the Cerise+SPTF Client Protection Pathway
  • With CP Full you get a comprehensive assessment of Client Protection Standards, so you can identify which gaps you must fill before going for a Client Protection Certification.

 1 tool is dedicated to environmental performance management, as a Green Pathway:

In the coming month, Cerise+SPTF will draw on the power of data, ramping up the SPI Online platform with new functionalities to serve the needs of purpose-driven organizations–in the short run, a module for analysis, with options for customised benchmarks to compare the results with your peers. Cerise+SPTF will also provide new webinars & FAQs to guide SPI Online users, experts or newcomers, in handling the assessment tools and going one step further in their journey to achieving a positive impact. Replays of live demo sessions are already available here.

Our thanks to everyone who has joined us in this journey. We hope the SPI Online makes it even easier for you to do the work you want to do, and we look forward to our continued collaboration.

Help us spread the word about SPI Online and the Universal Standards: Communication Toolkit
Stay informed by joining our mailing list
Learn more by visiting the SPI Online website.

Written by Célia Fernandez, Head of Communication at Cerise
Edited by Amelia Greenberg, Deputy Director of the Social Performance Task Force (SPTF)

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