The Smart Campaign is a global campaign to embed client protection into the DNA of the microfinance industry. The Smart Campaign works with microfinance leaders from around the world on a common goal: to keep clients as the driving force of the industry by providing microfinance institutions with the tools and resources they need to deliver transparent, respectful, and prudent financial services to all clients. The Smart Campaign believes that protecting clients is not only the right thing to do, its the smart thing to do.
History of the Smart Campaign
In response to a strongly recognized need to assure safe and responsible treatment of their clients, microfinance industry leaders from around the world came together in 2008 to agree on a set of Client Protection Principles to guide the microfinance industry. They recognized that when financial services are delivered in accord with the principles, clients are enabled to use financial services well and providers build a foundation for healthy operation for years to come. To put the principles into action, the Smart Campaign was launched in October 2009. Today it is a global effort with over 3,800 signatories, a wealth of tools and resources and an ambitious action agenda. It is changing the way microfinance institutions protect their clients.
Microfinance institutions, microfinance support organizations, investors, donors, and individual industry professionals have signed up with the Smart Campaign representing over 130 countries. The Smart Campaign has endorsements from over 1,000 microfinance institutions serving more than 40 million clients.
The Smart Campaign is led by a Steering Committee comprised of respected leaders in the microfinance industry from diverse regions and institutions. The Campaign staff looks to the Steering Committee for strategic advice regarding the development of the Campaign, its tools and resources, and its future efforts. The Center for Financial Inclusion houses the Campaign staff and secretariat.
The Campaign partners with supporting organizations across the microfinance community who can assist in taking the campaign to all corners of the globe. We gratefully count among our selected partners national networks such as ACCESS India, AMFA, APSFD Burkina Faso, APSFD Cote d’Ivoire, Consortium Alafia, Benin Cooperativa Emprender, Mission-CRS, MFC, Red Financiera Rural and others. We work together with industry support organizations (like CGAP, the SEEP Network, the specialized rating agencies, and others) and with many of the 140 investor groups that have endorsed the Campaign.
Our work is generously financed by the MasterCard Foundation, Inter-American Development Bank, International Finance Corporation, US Agency for International Development, Ford Foundation, Small Industries Development Bank of India, Deutsche Bank and a number of other supporters.
How Does the Campaign Work?
To genuinely embed the Client Protection Principles in industry practice, the Campaign works first to rally endorsers around our common cause and then to help them implement the principles through trainings, assessments, tools, and (coming soon) a certification process to ensure that client protection standards are met.
Tools Development and Dissemination. The Smart Campaign has developed and published nearly 70 tools that help microfinance institutions implement the Client Protection Principles. Those tools have been viewed over 100,000 times by Smart Campaign endorsers and supporters.
Global Outreach with Training. The Campaign has signed MOUs with 33 national and regional associations of microfinance institutions in Africa, Latin America, Asia, the Middle East and Eastern Europe. Through these agreements the local associations work directly with their members to systematically assess their practices and train them on putting principles into practice. As of mid-2012, our training has reached approximately 700 MFIs.
Certification. Self-reporting on client protection cannot provide confidence that the Client Protection Principles are actually being followed. Verification by an objective third party is needed. The Smart Campaign has been working with to develop a Client Protection certification program. Certification will enable financial institutions worldwide to demonstrate their adherence to the CPPs as verified by third parties. Financial institutions that have met adequate standards in client protection will be highlighted publicly.
The task force recognizes that it requires significant commitment and attention to achieve adequate client protection performance. The fact that a financial institution has responsible practices should not be taken for granted, but rather celebrated as a true achievement.
For the latest news about the Smart Campaign, please visit the virtual campaign headquarters, www.smartcampaign.org.