GUAYAQUIL, Ecuador, Nov. 5, 2014 /PRNewswire/ — The Smart Campaign, a global initiative to incorporate strong client protection practices across the microfinance industry, today celebrates the recent certification of six Latin American microfinance institutions at the occasion of the Foromic, the largest annual industry gathering for the region. In the past year the following institutions have become Client Protection Certified, meaning they meet strong standards of client care: BancoSol and Crecer in Bolivia; Fundacion Delamujer and Finamerica S.A. in Colombia; Edpyme Raiz in Peru; and Compartamos Banco in Mexico.
They join 18 other institutions from Eastern Europe, South Asia, and Latin America that have all been certified since the program launched in January, 2013. Together, the 24 certified institutions serve more than 8.7 million clients worldwide; many more institutions are preparing or currently undergoing missions.
Client Protection Certification publicly recognizes those institutions whose standards of care uphold the Smart Campaign’s seven client protection principles. “As this program grows, we envision Client Protection Certification becoming a widely recognized, distinguishing mark, like Fair Trade, that signals to clients, investors, internal stakeholders and the general public that its bearer upholds strong client protection principles,” said Elisabeth Rhyne, Managing Director of the Center for Financial Inclusion at Accion, where the Smart Campaign’s secretariat is housed.
The Client Protection Certification Program contains a rigorous set of standards against which institutions are evaluated by independent, third-party raters that are licensed by the Smart Campaign. The raters – Planet Rating, M-CRIL, MicroFinanza Rating and MicroRate – are established, specialized microfinance rating agencies with deep experience, having analyzed hundreds of institutions to date.
“We extend our heartfelt congratulations to the newly-certified institutions,” said Isabelle Barres, Director of the Smart Campaign. “Their willingness to do the work it takes to prepare for and undergo the intensive process of evaluation is indicative of their deep commitment to their clients. They have shown that a high bar is achievable in client protection. Their example will catalyze a movement towards certification within the broader industry.”
Certified in December 2013 by Planet Rating, BancoSol supports the capacity of micro and small entrepreneurs through the provision of savings, credit, and microinsurance products. Crecer is a development financial institution that provides financial services to women of limited economic resources. It was certified by Planet Rating in January 2014.
Fundacion Delamujer received certification in June 2014 by MicroRate and although their roots are in urban microfinance, they have recently begun to branch out to serve the unbanked rural markets of Colombia. Edpyme Raiz promotes strong and sustainable development of small- and micro-business across 24 provinces in Peru; it received certification in August 2014 by MicroFinanza Rating.
Certified in August 2014 by MicroRate, Finamerica S.A. strives to create jobs and improve the income of Colombia’s poor; they are one of just three organizations in Colombia that offer savings accounts to low-income microentrepreneurs. Compartamos Banco, which serves 2.6 million clients across Mexico, was certified in August 2014 by MicroRate.
The Client Protection Certification Program is possible because of partnerships with The MasterCard Foundation, Ford Foundation, the International Finance Corporation, the Multilateral Investment Fund (a member of the IDB Group) and microfinance pioneer Accion. It has been shaped through cooperation with dozens of supporting organizations, notably Smart Campaign co-founder, the Consultative Group to Assist the Poor (CGAP).
About the Smart Campaign
The Smart Campaign is a global movement to embed a set of client protection principles deep within the microfinance industry. It is governed by a Steering Committee representing a broad cross-section of the industry and is housed at the Center for Financial Inclusion at Accion. By providing microfinance institutions with the tools and resources they need to deliver transparency, respectful and prudent financial services to all clients, the Smart Campaign is helping the industry maintain its commitment to treating clients fairly.
More information on the Client Protection Certification Program can be found here.
To view the registry of certified organizations, click here.
SOURCE The Smart Campaign
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