The Risk Management Initiative in Microfinance (RIM): Mapping the Road to Risk Management

> Posted by Danielle Piskadlo, Senior Program Specialist, CFI

The Investing in Inclusive Finance program at the Center for Financial Inclusion at Accion explores the practices of investors in inclusive finance. Across areas including risk, governance, stakeholder alignment, and fund management, this blog series highlights what’s being done to help the industry better utilize private capital to develop financial institutions that incorporate social aims.

What good are industry best practices for risk management if many MFIs don’t have the tools and resources to follow them? Sure, you can state that it is an industry best practice to have a risk committee on your board. And it undoubtedly is important to identify that there is value in applying such a practice. But what use is that really if you don’t examine the underlying reasons why 40 percent of MFIs that responded to a MIX survey said they don’t. Or why 32 percent reported not having a risk manager, and 23 percent said they don’t have an internal auditor – and if they did have either, respondents indicated, “both functions tend to report to the CEO contrary to accepted best practice.”

To address this disconnect between where we are as an industry and where we want to be in terms of risk management best practices is why the Risk management Initiative in Microfinance (RIM) was recently launched. RIM is a collaborative effort of Appui au Développement Autonome (ADA), Calmeadow, the Center for Financial Inclusion at Accion (CFI), Mennonite Economic Development Associates (MEDA), MFX Solutions, Microfinanza, Oikocredit, and Triple Jump to raise awareness about the importance of risk management, and build MFIs’ capacity to more effectively understand and manage risk.

It has been shown time and again that there is no one-size-fits-all solution in the microfinance industry. What works in one region for one MFI could be a disaster in a different region or for another MFI. And risk management is no different. Putting out one set of risk standards would create a divide between those that meet them and those that don’t, and those that are a good fit for them and those that aren’t. Instead RIM is in the process of developing a “risk roadmap” to help MFIs assess where their risk management capabilities currently stand, and to then help them navigate to where they want to be in terms of risk management. This risk model will help MFIs continue to “graduate” to higher levels of risk management capabilities as they grow and mature as institutions. This roadmap will provide the microfinance industry with a flexible resource, appropriate to address the wide variety of risk management challenges MFIs face.

RIM’s work to raise awareness and help build capacity is taking the shape of several other forms as well, including:

Through these efforts, with a personalized and individual approach, RIM aims to advance the risk management abilities of MFIs everywhere.

Have you read?

Heating Up… Risk Management as a New “Hot Topic” on the Microfinance Gateway

A Journey to Understanding Risk as a New Board Director in “Governing Banks: MFI Edition”

Staying the Course When Risks Rise: Advice for Board Members