To create value for their clients, microfinance institutions need to maintain a healthy balance between their social and commercial goals, managing a double bottom line where strong financial performance supports the fulfilment of a social mission.
The social value of microfinance relies on the delivery of financial products and services that improve the lives of the economically disadvantaged. Social performance management refers to the policies, procedures and management practices used by institutions to achieve their social mission.
Microfinance institutions with strong social performance management practices, design and deliver products and services that are appropriate, safe, affordable and ethical. Responsible microfinance institutions with a strong social mission help clients cope with emergencies, invest in economic opportunities, build assets, and manage their daily and life cycle financial needs. Such institutions also treat their staff responsibly, carefully balancing the institutions social and commercial goals.
Although there is no single formula for successful social performance management, the microfinance sector has recognized a set of core management practices known as the 'Universal Standards for Social Performance Management'.
Define and monitor social goals
Ensure board, management, and employee commitment to social goals
Design products, services, delivery models and channels that meet clients’ needs and preferences
Treat clients responsibly
Treat employees responsibly
Balance financial and social performance