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SPI4: moving towards the optimisation of social performance

The SPI4 tool enables an MFI to obtain a quick and complete diagnosis of its social performances in a graphical form. SPI4 analyses and assesses the degree of implementation of the universal standards for social performance management and the principles related to client protection set out in the Smart Campaign.

SPI4 boxes uk

What is SPI4?

SPI4 has been developed using Microsoft Excel and is available free of charge. It has been designed to be used as a tool to assess social performance and it helps MFIs to assess their level of implementation of the Universal Standards for social performance management, which integrate the Smart Campaign’s Principles of client protection.

SPI4 provides MFIs with the possibility of collecting their social data and of generating an analysis of their social performance. The main aim is to save time in the processing of information in order to be in a position to quickly identify the MFI’s shortcomings in the area of social performance and to take measures to address these issues.

Download the SPI4 tool free of charge from the Cerise website or ask for an SPI4 audit to be carried out to assess your social performance.


What are the universal standards for social performance management?

The universal standards for social performance management are a collection of good practices designed to help MFIs to optimise their social performance and to achieve their social goals. These standards have been created by the SPTF (Social Performance Task Force) thanks to the collaboration of a large number of microfinance professionals throughout the world. The SPTF has collected all of these universal standards in a manual which describes the standards (to be implemented by an MFI) and the fundamental management practices to be introduced in order to achieve these standards.

The SPTF’s manual of universal standards for social performance management is available free of charge in French, English, Spanish, Arabic and Russian.


What are the Smart Campaign client protection principles?

The Smart Campaign is housed at ACCION International’s Centre for Financial Inclusion.

The Client Protection Principles are comprised of seven core principles which have been identified by the Smart Campaign and which should be adhered to in order to ensure that microfinance clients are dealt with in a responsible way:

  1. Appropriate product design and delivery   
  2. Prevention of over-indebtedness
  3. Transparency
  4. Responsible pricing
  5. Fair and respectful treatment of clients
  6. Privacy of client data
  7. Mechanisms for complaint resolution

Each of these seven principles has been translated into standards to be adhered to in order to provide clients with the best possible level of protection. The Smart Campaign has defined a total of 30 client protection standards and these standards have been integrated within the SPTF Universal Standards.

The SPI4 tool assesses the implementation of the SPTF Universal Standards, which include the Smart Campaign’s 30 client protection standards.


How should the SPI4 be used?

The SPI4 tool can be downloaded free of charge from the Cerise website. However, Cerise strongly recommends that anyone who intends to use it should go on a training course in order to fully understand how to use SPI4 and the results which it generates.

You can choose to fill in the SPI4 on your own or with an SPI4 auditor who will support you throughout the self-assessment process. If you have already completed a microfinance MFI Factsheet, it is possible to import the data automatically into SPI4.

The results of the assessment will enable you to identify the areas which require improvement. You will then be able to put forward recommendations to be applied in accordance with an action plan which you have drawn up yourself. For the purposes of this stage of the process, you may decide to extend the support provided by your SPI4 auditor by choosing the “audit +” option. In this case, the SPI4 auditor will help you to both identify and implement recommendations designed to improve your institution’s social performance.


Who created SPI4?

SPI4 has been created by CERISE in collaboration with the Social Performance Task Force (SPTF), the Smart Campaign, the MIX, Truelift, Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation, ADA - BRS, Planet Rating, the Pakistan Microfinance Network, Red Financiera Rural, CIF/West Africa, ESAF India, with the support of the Liechtenstein Development Service (LED), the Ford Foundation and the Kazakhstan Microfinance (KMF), which is a member of the Microfinance Centre, for the Russian translation.

Further information is available on the Cerise website.



New Implementation Guide for MFIs for MFIs

ADA contributed to the implementation of the new guide to the implementation of the universal standards of Social Performance Management.

Download it in the link below:

A new SPI4-qualified auditor at ADA

Caroline Morilhat, project manager for the Support of Microfinance Institutions at ADA, achieved the SPI4 Qualification on May 3rd, 2017. She can now work with Microfinance Institutions that request an SPI4 audit to evaluate their social performance; a socially responsible business conduct is a good way to attract investors.

What is the SPI4?
Developed by CERISE in collaboration with the Social Performance Task Force and its partners, the SPI4 (Social Performance Indicators) is a tool that evaluates the social performance of Microfinance Institutions according to the Universal Standards for Social Performance Management and the principle of client protection. SPI4 has 6 main components:

  1. Outline and follow social goals;
  2. Ensure the commitment of the Board of Directors, the administration and the staff to the aforementioned social goals;
  3. Create products, services and distribution channels that respond to the needs and desires of clients;
  4. Fair treatment of clients;
  5. Fair treatment of employees;
  6. Balance social and financial achievements.

Working off these six main areas, the SPI4 tool allows qualified auditors to work with sector leaders to create a thorough analysis of the MFI’s social performance.

A seventh component that focusses on green microfinance in line with the e-MFP’s “green index” is also an option. The MFI Factsheet Microfact, a tool to monitor performance that was developed by ADA and BRS, can be integrated with the SPI4 so that financial data is directly imported from the Factsheet. Once all relevant information has been collected, the tool proposes a diagnostic in the form of a percentage in each of the six areas, which reflects how the MFI is doing now and acts as a basis for the auditor and the IMF to establish a plan of action together.

What are the advantages of having an SPI4-qualified auditor in ADA’s staff?
Being an SPI4-qualified auditor means that I can guide any MFI through the process of an SPI4 audit. I could be working with MFIs that are already ADA’s partners, as well as with MFIs that reach out to us. Over time, ADA will be able to learn more about our network of MFIs from the completed the SPI4 audits.

What does the qualification process look like?
The process begins with a course on the theoretical underpinnings of social performance as well as the use of the SPI4 tool and the interpretation of possible results. After a period of testing the tool with imaginary data, we spend 12 months completing an actual audit of an MFI in the company of a qualified auditor. My first audit was of the MFI Bénin Microfinance. I prepared the available information in advance before heading to Benin for a week to carry out the audit with a local consultant, whom I chose from the list of qualified auditors at www.cerise-spi4.org. Upon my return to ADA, I finished up the audit and created a report that included an analysis, an action plan and my recommendations. After passing on these documents to CERISE for review and comment, I was able to finalise the documents and transmit them to the microfinance institution, the final step in achieving my licence.

How can MFIs seek your help with an audit?
All MFIs can complete a self-evaluation with the tool or contact the auditor of their choice, as all auditors are listed on CERISE’s website. The project “Reponsible Microfinance Facility”, set up by Agence Française de Développement (AFD) and managed by SPTF, aims to develop the social performance skills and management of MFIs. The RMF therefore offers to co-fund the audit with MFIs in target countries in Africa and the Middle East. The next deadline to sign up is June 21st, 2017.

More information here: https://sptf.info/resources/responsible-microfinance-facility

Caroline Morilhat at the MFI Bénin Microfinance for her first SPI4 audit 

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