MFIN’s vision of promoting inclusive growth drives our advocacy efforts. Our response to financial exclusion requires us to work for policy change and challenge those which inhibit inclusion. Effective advocacy both immediate issues and the root causes—whether with governments, regulators, institutions, the general public, or all of these. An essential element of advocacy is building a relationship with those whose needs are underrepresented and bringing their interests to the attention of governments, regulators, bankers, investors, businesses, or the general public in ways that address them effectively. As a collective voice of the industry and in our primary role as an SRO of the industry, we have a unique privilege and responsibility to be a voice for those who otherwise may not be heard.
Our engagement with various stakeholders follows a sequential process :
Advocacy efforts must necessarily be supported by developmental Initiatives that build a well governed, regulated and responsible industry. The development objectives MFIN focuses on are:
- Building an enabling regulatory & overall facilitative policy environment for promoting the National Agenda of financial Inclusion
- Understanding demand supply gap in financial services for the clients at the bottom of the pyramid
- Developing new products, products, methodologies and services to serve the bottom of the pyramid
- Developing new partnerships with various actors in the financial services space in the industry
- Developing robust systems that promote best practices in member institutions of MFIN
- Promoting effective and responsible client practices among members
- Ensuring highest standards in the industry in customer protection for the bottom of the pyramid clients
MFIN has been working on several initiatives that aid the robust development of the sector. Several studies and infrastructure projects have been implemented, and new avenues for improvement and development are being identified and acted upon. Some of these are:
Pre 2010, absence of comprehensive credit information was a key challenge in the development of the sector. MFIN members took the earliest steps in 2010 toward establishing a credit bureau which especially catered to the needs of this industry. MFIN facilitated the establishment of the first Credit Bureau for Microfinance clients (High Mark) aimed at improving credit risk management for MFIs. Other mainstream Credit Bureaus, such as Equifax and Experian now also offer services/products to the microfinance sector. In addition to encouraging a larger number of MFIs to join the Credit Bureau initiative, MFIN monitors the credit bureau compliance across its membership. The credit bureau activities of MFIN aim at: broadening of coverage of the Credit Bureaus, Raising awareness about the credit bureau, and improving the credit bureau data quality.
We believe an essential component to client protection is client education. We provide clients with tools and resources that can help them make wise financial decisions.
MFIN & IFC have initiated a Credit Bureau Awareness Project for Microfinance Institutions in India. The Project is seeking to expand and deepen consumer understanding of the importance of building a strong credit history, as well as the implications of credit information sharing, credit reports and the role of credit bureaus. Further, the modules on Credit Bureau Consumer Awareness seek to support MFI’s across India to enhance their institutional capacity to effectively deliver, disseminate and implement consistent quality consumer protection and credit related financial education. The Project is expected to be complete by end of 2014.
Social Performance Management
In order to address the need for better Social Performance Management (SPM) by the Microfinance Industry in India, MFIN partnered with the ‘Social Performance Start-up Fund’. This Ford Foundation supported Fund is assisting select national microfinance networks such as MFIN to implement SPM related activities. As part of this initiative, MFIN conducted a number of Social Performance Workshops. The workshops were intended to provide comprehensive training on SPM and reporting tools to MFI representatives, along with an in-depth understanding of the CoC for MFIs.