Author: Mathilde Bauwin - ADA
In 2012, the Social Performance Task Force published the Universal Standards of Social Performance Management. Created both by, and for, practitioners in the sector, these Universal Standards gather together a collection of good management practices which should enable financial service providers to accomplish their social mission. Since then, how have microfinance institutions appropriated these standards? In 2014, the social audit tool, SPI4, developed by Cerise, was fully aligned with these standards so as to allow financial service providers to assess their social performance management practices, to identify their strengths and weaknesses and to target possible avenues for improvement. Accordingly, since 2014, Cerise has collected in a centralised database all of the SPI4 audits which have been performed and submitted. In 2018, ADA and Cerise joined forces to analyse this database and to carry out a study to review the current practices related to the assessment and management of social performance.


Author: MicroCapital team
MicroCapital: How is it different evaluating lenders to SMEs versus microlenders? Lucia Spaggiari: One difference is the language used. For instance, SME lenders speak of “sustainable performance” more than “social performance.” Beyond language, a key difference is scale. By definition, SME lending requires a larger balance sheet, and this means complying with prudential regulation and attracting investors expecting to earn (at least) market returns. Laura Foose: Based on investor demand expressed at the European Microfinance Platform (e-MFP) Investor Action Group meeting at European Microfinance Week 2016 and the March 2017 Social Performance Task Force (SPTF) Social Investors Working Group, we have been exploring how best to evaluate the environmental and social performance of SME finance institutions. We began by mapping the ESG frameworks of four development finance institutions (DFIs) and then surveyed our member microfinance investment vehicles to learn what indicators were most important to them. The high quality of the DFIs’ tools was very helpful in designing an evaluation framework that is feasible for our member funds’ smaller investments.