Announcing MSDF Partnership on Social Performance Management

September 4, 2009 Posted by Press Release

Unitus and Michael & Susan Dell Foundation Collaborate to Increase Use Of Social Performance Management Among Microfinance Institutions

SEATTLE, 4 September 2009 – In an ongoing effort to increase the availability and effectiveness of life-changing microfinance services, international nonprofit Unitus and the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation will launch the Social Performance Management Implementation Project (SPM IP) to increase adoption of social performance practice  among microfinance institutions (MFIs).

Social performance management (SPM) is an institutionalized process which involves setting clear social objectives (e.g., improved quality of housing, healthcare, etc.), monitoring and assessing progress toward achieving these goals, and using this information to improve the performance and impact of MFIs.

With the explosion of interest in microfinance over the past decade causing proliferation of geographically and technically diverse programs, Unitus believes that it can no longer be assumed without question that genuine poverty alleviation automatically results from microfinance. Rather, with the belief that high-impact microfinance depends on measured outcomes and tailored services, Unitus is working with the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation and industry partners on pioneering work in the area of SPM.

The SPM IP program has two phases. In the first phase, Unitus will work with 10 MFI partners to conduct analysis of existing social performance data, collect 6,000 client level surveys per partner – 60,000 total – using the Grameen Foundation Progress out of Poverty Index™ (PPI™), and conduct an internal social audit using the CERISE Social Performance Indicator (SPI). Based on phase one findings, partners may choose to participate in the project’s second phase SPM Optimization, and will fully adopt and integrate SPM into their regular operations.

“With the funding committed by the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation, we have a great opportunity to gain not only a deeper understanding of the positive social change varied microfinance approaches produce,” said Richard Wardell, Unitus’s Vice President of Global Programs, “but a chance to identify implementation best practices that will serve as a model for MFIs worldwide.”

“The growth of microfinance has stemmed from the hypothesis that access to loan products gives low-income people an opportunity to improve their income levels and quality of life,” said Geeta Goel, Director, Microfinance at the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation. “We believe Social Performance Management allows us to demonstrate this impact, and assess what methods and practices work, in an objective, comparable manner. Unitus’s strong focus on the social aspects of microfinance and their network of socially committed MFIs makes them an important collaborator in this work.”

At launch, the SPM IP will be India’s most comprehensive multi-MFI SPM project, harnessing Unitus’s solid understanding of the MFI strategies and operations to aid partners in integrating these tools into business practices.  Over time, the project will expand to MFIs in other countries.

“We’re very excited to build on groundbreaking SPM work as a way of ensuring that microfinance has the best possible outcome for the largest number of people in need,” commented Wardell.


About the Grameen Foundation PPI™ and the CERISE SPI

The Grameen Foundation Progress out of Poverty Index™ (PPI™) is a country-specific quantitative and standardized survey administered to MFI clients to assess client poverty level and monitor changes in client social and economic well-being. The PPI was commissioned by Grameen Foundation, in collaboration with the Consultative Group to Assist the Poor (CGAP), the Ford Foundation, and Microfinance Risk Management, L.L.C., to enable MFIs to better understand their clients’ needs and evaluate the effectiveness of their programs and products.

The CERISE Social Performance Indicator is a 45-question quantitative and standardized survey to assess MFI systems in key areas including outreach to the poor and excluded, ability to adapt products and services based on client need, capacity to improve economic and social benefits to clients, and level of social responsibility.  Each was chosen by Unitus for use in the SPM IP from a collection of competing measurement tools for its ability to provide a holistic picture of an MFI’s social performance.

About Unitus

Unitus, an international nonprofit organization, fights global poverty by accelerating the growth of microfinance—small loans and other financial tools for self-empowerment—where it is needed most. Unitus partners with young, high-potential microfinance institutions, helping them build capacity, attract capital, and unite with the greater partner network to achieve rapid, sustainable growth. In just seven years, Unitus has helped its partners serve more than 9 million families throughout India and Southeast Asia, East Africa, Mexico, and South America.

Unitus received Fast Company’s Social Capitalist award in 2006, 2007, and 2008. Unitus is a 501(c)3 with offices in Seattle, Washington, Bangalore, India and Nairobi, Kenya. For more information, please visit

About the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation

The Michael & Susan Dell Foundation ( is dedicated to improving the lives of children living in urban poverty around the world. With offices in Austin, Texas, Cape Town, South Africa and New Delhi, India, the Dell family foundation funds programs that foster high-quality public education and childhood health, and improve the economic stability of families living in poverty. The foundation has committed more than $530 million to global children’s issues and community initiatives to date including more than $15 million to global microfinance initiatives.

EDITOR’S NOTE: The Michael & Susan Dell Foundation is separate and distinct from the Dell Foundation. In any first reference, please use the ‘Michael & Susan Dell Foundation.’ For second references, ‘the Dell family foundation’ may be used.

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