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Reflection: Creating a Sense of Trust ... `

Due to the lack of consistent reporting requirements to date within the MFI industry, and the lack of any widely accepted audit firms or criteria, each MFI is more often than not able to report only the information that will make it appear to be successful as a lending institution, if it reports anything at all. Furthermore, what it reports to regulators in the country in which it operates may be very different from what it publicizes to its customers or the intermediary institutions that arrange for funding to be made available to it. Given that many MFIs have loose reporting standards, or no reporting at all (especially in the areas of social performance), and that some MFIs have managed to tarnish the industry with their performance, the need to provide a means of measuring the MFI to determine who is performing well, not just in financial terms but also in terms of meeting the social obligations of the original MFI concept, is increasingly important to the intermediary institutions who provide funds (or funds guarantees) to the MFIs – a need that is moving from desirable to critical as the world economic crisis reduces the amount of funding available for microfinance.

and the marketing department, specifically, is to present the information gained in a way that generates a sense of accuracy, honesty, and trustworthiness. This means that the MFI may have to report information that reflects negatively on its performance – an example of this may be that the financial performance of the MFI is commendable while the social criteria have not been adequately achieved. The willingness to report that some aspects of the MFI have not achieved the stated goal or mission of the MFI, or to communicate management’s strategy for improving in those areas, such as SPM, going forward, will be a key test in the market as to how well the MFI is able to create that sense of trust with those who use its services, regulate it activities, or fund its operations. I look forward to hearing from our readers as to how the marketing department in your organization, whether you’re an MFI or intermediary, communicates such messages about performance and trustworthiness, as well as to what extent your marketing departments are even aware of the emerging SPM standards. Our blog is always open for your comments . ******************

In this aspect, the primary responsibility for presenting the MFIs record of performance in a manner that is understandable should fall to the marketing department; I do not believe that the marketing department should be responsible for collecting or analyzing the data, only for reporting it in a way that makes it understandable. It is, after all, the marketing department’s responsibility to craft the type and style of the information to be communicated to others that are outside the MFI.

Bruce is an expert and commentator on both technology and marketing. He is former Marketing Director for several high Tec start ups. Bruce currently serves as CTO (Chief Technology Officer) for a well known NGO. Currently He associated with Microfinance Focus as an “Technology & Marketing Editor” . He may be reached at

The challenge for the MFI’s management, in general,

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Microfinance Focus [ April 2009 ] 10

Microfinance Focus April issue 2009  

A Global Magazine on Microfinance and Sustainable Development