MIF Supports Improvement of Microfinance Client Protection Practices in Latin America and the Caribbean

Support for the Smart Campaign will allow client protection assessments, certification testing, pilot projects, and translation and dissemination of tools to foster adherence to Client Protection Principles at leading microfinance institutions.
Washington, DC, January 30, 2012 — The Smart Campaign, a global initiative to incorporate strong client protection principles across the microfinance industry, will receive support from the Multilateral Investment Fund (MIF), member of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) Group to help Latin American and Caribbean  microfinance institutions  incorporate client protection practices into their operations.
The support will work to institutionalize adherence to the Smart Campaign’s Client Protection Principles, which include  appropriate product design and delivery, prevention of over-indebtedness, transparency, responsible pricing, fair and respectful treatment of clients, privacy of client data, and mechanisms for complaint resolution, in four primary ways:

  • Understanding the current state of client protection practice via in-depth Client Protection Assessments of twenty microfinance institutions (MFIs);
  • Changing client protection practices via pilot implementation of recommendations from the Smart Assessments;
  • Piloting the certification process of ten microfinance institutions as a crucial step to raise client protection standards in the industry; and
  • Making Smart Campaign tools more broadly available in Latin America through translation and dissemination of those tools and materials into Spanish and Portuguese.

“Support from the MIF comes at a critical time in the life of the Campaign and will ensure that the experience of microfinance institutions in Latin America and the Caribbean is taken into account when defining adequate standards for client protection worldwide,” said Isabelle Barrès, Smart Campaign Director.
“We are pleased to support the Smart Campaign in finding improved mechanisms to raise standards in client protection for microfinance,” said Tomas Miller, head of the Access to Finance Unit at the MIF.  “An effective and transparent certification process is certainly needed in the industry.”
About the Smart Campaign
The Smart Campaign is a global campaign consisting of microfinance leaders from around the world who believe that protecting clients is not only the right thing to do but the smart thing to do. To date, over 2,414 microfinance and other financial institutions, microfinance support organizations, investors, donors, and individual industry professionals have pledged adherence to the Smart Campaign’s core Client Protection Principles. 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 is helping the industry maintain a dual focus on improving clients’ lives while attaining financial sustainability. The Campaign is headquartered at the Center for Financial Inclusion (CFI) at Accion and is governed by a Steering Committee representing a broad cross-section of the industry.

About the MIF
Established in 1993 as a member of the Inter-American Development Bank Group, the Multilateral Investment Fund (MIF) was created to develop effective approaches to support economic growth and poverty reduction through private-sector-led development. Its mission is to act as a development laboratory—experimenting, pioneering, and taking risks in order to build and support successful micro and small and medium enterprise business models. The MIF works through grants, lending, and equity investments and is the largest international technical assistance provider to the private sector in Latin America and the Caribbean. For more information, visit www.fomin.org.

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The Smart Campaign
Charlotte Connors
Manager, Operations and Communications
Tel. +1 202-393-5113 ext 1667
Multilateral Investment Fund
Inter-American Development Bank
Sergio Navajas, Senior Specialist
Tel. +1 202 623 3268
Paola A. Pedroza, Consultant– Access to Finance
Tel. +1 202 623 3602