In June 2008, Unitus attended the Social Performance Task Force meeting in Paris, France. Created in March 2005, the Social Performance Task Force (SPTF) has been charged with clearly defining social performance and addressing questions about measuring and managing social performance in the microfinance sector. More than 200 organizations around the world participate in the SPTF meetings and activities—MFIs, investors, network organizations, and academic institutions. Unitus is now an official member of the SPTF and is working on the “Social Indicators” and “Social Investor” sub-committees.
The initiative represents a unique and important opportunity for developing a deeper understanding of microfinance’s effects on poverty and underserved populations, with the ultimate goal of improving products and services to better serve the poor. It is considered the industry’s first successful attempt to create consensus and a worldwide framework around social indicator measurements and the usage of tools and metrics to assess progress out of poverty.
At the meeting in Paris, the SPTF identified 30 social performance indicators that are intended to set a standard for basic social reporting by microfinance practitioners. By the end of 2008, these social indicators will be published to the Microfinance Information Exchange (MIX). Microfinance practitioners will be strongly encouraged to report on these 30 social performance indicators as part of their regular reporting cycles (read more about the indicators in progress here.)
Unitus also plays an active role in the Social Performance Management (SPM) Roadmap Initiative, a project spearheaded by the Imp-Act Consortium. SPM enables MFIs to better assess client needs and use this information to refine products and services to better meet those needs. Backed by the Ford Foundation, MicroNed, CONCERN, and IFAD, the Imp-Act Consortium strives to provide tactical guidance to microfinance institutions who are working to implement SPM. The Roadmap is a “how-to” guide tailored for microfinance practitioners and is scheduled for release in December 2008.