The Smart Campaign, a global initiative to improve accountability regarding client protection in the microfinance industry, has released proposed revisions to its “Client Protection Principles”, the campaign’s framework is intended to help microfinance institutions (MFIs) practice good ethics and smart business, as well as a guidance document created to act as a bridge between the principles and practice.
These document releases come as a result of an examination conducted by the Smart Campaign in an effort to ensure that the principles accurately reflect the mission of the Campaign and its endorser community. A task force formed to conduct the examination determined that while the principles represented the treatment clients should receive when borrowing from a microfinance institution, they did not address the full range of financial services. In addition, the task force concluded that it was important to add a prohibition against discrimination “on the basis of race, ethnicity, gender, political affiliation, disability, religion or orientation”. The Smart Campaign has also released a guidance document in an effort to amplify the formal statement of principles by acting as a bridge between the principles and practice.
The revised principles and guidance document are now available at the following location for public comment until April 30, 2011:
By: Alexandra Pattee, Research Associate
About The Smart Campaign: The Smart Campaign is housed at the Center for Financial Inclusion in Washington, DC, and was founded with seed money from US-based nonprofit ACCION International. It seeks to promote six core consumer protection principles including: avoidance of over-indebtedness, transparent and responsible pricing, appropriate collection principles, ethical staff behavior, mechanisms for redress of grievances and privacy of client data. As of February 2011, over 1,600 microfinance institutions (MFIs), microfinance support organizations, investors, donors and individual industry professionals have endorsed the Smart Campaign.
Sources and Resources:
 The Smart Campaign Press Release, “2011 New Guidance Document and Proposed Revisions to the Client Protection Principles”, http://www.smartcampaign.org/news-a-highlights/whats-happening/8-2010/470-2011-new-guidance-document-and-proposed-revisions-to-the-client-protection-principles
MicroCapital.org Article, February 22, 2011, “ACCION International’s Smart Campaign to Launch Certification Program for Client Protection in Microfinance”, http://www.microcapital.org/microcapital-brief-accion-international?s-smart-campaign-to-launch-certification-program-for-client-protection-in-microfinance/
MicroCapital.org Article, November 9, 2010, “Smart Campaign Partners With African Microfinance Network (AFMIN) and Plan International to Promote Client Protection Among African and Asian MFIs”, http://www.microcapital.org/microcapital-brief-smart-campaign-partners-with-african-microfinance-network-afmin-and-plan-international-to-promote-client-protection-amoung-african-and-asian-mfis/
MicroCapital.org Article, September 1, 2010, “Total Number of Microfinance Organizations Endorsing the SMART Client Protection Principles Reaches 528″, http://www.microcapital.org/microcapital-brief-total-number-of-microfinance-organizations-endorsing-the-smart-client-protection-principles-reaches-528/
MicroCapital.org Article, June 2, 2010, “Smart Campaign Announces 1,000 Endorsements of Consumer Protection Principles”, http://www.microcapital.org/microcapital-brief-smart-campaign-announces-1000-endorsements-of-consumer-protection-principles/
MicroCapital.org Article, October 23, 2010, “The Smart Campaign Industry Leaders Call For Key Consumer Protection Initiatives”, http://www.microcapital.org/microcapitalorg-story-the-smart-campaign-industry-leaders-call-for-key-consumer-protection-initiatives/
MicroCapital’s Microfinance Universe: The Smart Campaign: http://www.microcapital.org/microfinanceuniverse/tiki-index.php?page=SMART+Campaign#The_SMART_Campaign
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