WASHINGTON, D.C., March 31, 2023 – The Financial Inclusion Equity Council (FIEC), a member forum for fostering dialog among equity investors in inclusive finance, is forming a new partnership with two leaders in the responsible finance sector, a move aimed at strengthening the global implementation of responsible investment practices to help advance the lives of low-income people.
FIEC is transitioning its secretariat from the Center for Financial Inclusion to Cerise+SPTF. Under the new arrangement, FIEC will work closely with Cerise+SPTF’s Social Investor Working Group to further deepen collaboration and discussion among investors in identifying new opportunities for inclusive growth through financial services in a world of increasing disruption and uncertainty.
FIEC will retain its member-driven structure, continuing to operate as a members-only group of equity investors, while also contributing to and benefitting from the work of Cerise+SPTF’s Social Investor Working Group. Currently, there are 17 FIEC members, primarily fund managers with $4.7 billion under management invested in 64 countries. Deborah Drake will remain as FIEC’s director, and current Advisory Board members – Caspar Sprokel (Triodos), Jan Dewijngaert (Incofin), and Orsolya Farkas (Triple Jump) – will continue to support the transition.
The new secretariat is expected to be in place by the end of April. Since FIEC’s inception in 2003, Accion has hosted FIEC with CFI, Accion’s independent think tank, serving as secretariat since 2008.
“Transitioning the FIEC Secretariat to Cerise+SPTF will provide enhanced opportunities to convene and discuss a range of pressing topics with partners who serve the investment community and share our common purpose of fostering collaboration and dialogue to advance the social mission of investors in inclusive finance,” Drake said.
“It has been an honor to host FIEC,” Mayada El-Zoghbi, CFI’s managing director, said. “We see this move as a great opportunity for FIEC to further deepen the impact of its work by bringing together leading entities in equity investment that prioritize responsible investing in financial inclusion.”
Jurgen Hammer, Managing Director of SPTF’s European office in Luxembourg and head of the Social Investor Working Group, said: “Equity investors, through their participation in the governance and management boards, play a vital role in the implementation of socially and environmentally responsible practices of the investments funds and financial institutions they invest in. Sharing the almost 20 years of experience of Cerise+SPTF’s investors’ working group will strengthen the global implementation of responsible investment practices and lead to a more accountable and transparent industry.”
Financial Inclusion Equity Council, originally known as the Council of Microfinance Equity Funds, was founded in 2003 when research and data on the microfinance sector were scant, to provide members with a forum to discuss their role as responsible shareholders in microfinance institutions (MFI). FIEC has pioneered efforts to strengthen governance, increase transparency, and ensure social impact is front and center in its members’ investment due diligence and decision-making. Its “Practice of Corporation Governance in Shareholder-Owned MFIs” has become a standard reference for the industry. FIEC conducted the first study of MIV fund managers’ remuneration and collaborated with the Microfinance Network in an analysis of MFI pay practices for boards of directors. FIEC is also known for its flagship valuation database, available only to members. FIEC’s current agenda includes increasing regulation and reporting requirements, widening the concept of financial inclusion to more players such as investing platforms, digitalization of MFIs, valuation of fintechs, and managing new risks such as currency risk, exit strategies, and climate change.
Cerise+SPTF supports financial service providers, social businesses, impact investors, networks, professional associations, regulators, and donors—a wide cross-section of stakeholders from all over the world—with the standards and tools they need to achieve their social and environmental strategies. Cerise+SPTF pursue this mission through several strategies, including:
- The Social Investor Working Group, which is open to all investors seeking to balance financial, social, and environmental performance. Currently, there are more than 600 investor members representing over 200 organizations in the group. The SIWG meets twice a year in person, typically once in February/March and once in June, and holds monthly webinars throughout the year.
- Specific technical sub-groups (such as SFDR, Client Protection, Outcomes/SDGs) complement the regular activities. The group provides peer-to-peer learning and gives a platform to address global issues and develop practical and standard approaches with a collective voice.
The Center for Financial Inclusion is an independent, global think tank housed at Accion that conducts rigorous research and advocates for evidence-based change to ensure that all people can make use of financial products and services to advance their lives and prosper.
CFI – Stella Dawson, interim Communications Lead, CFI. firstname.lastname@example.org
FIEC – Deborah Drake, Director, FIEC. email@example.com
SPTF – Laura Foose, Executive Director, SPTF. (firstname.lastname@example.org) Inc
SPTF – Jurgen Hammer, Managing Director, SPTF Europe. (email@example.com)
CERISE – Cecile Lapenu, Executive Director, CERISE. (firstname.lastname@example.org)