The SPM program was an ambitious Technical Assistance project under BlueOrchard’s managed Technical Assistance Facility (MIFA TAF). Working with CERISE, MIFA TAF provided very different support for 11 MFIs depending on each organisation's need assessment in the context of client protection, social performance management, and outcome measurement. This session focused on the concrete example of Aye Finance in India, their lessons learned on impact assessment, and measurement.
Elena ESBAILE began her presentation by explaining Blue Orchard’s approach with respect to its Technical Assistance facilities and services for investees. She highlighted Blue Orchard’s support to the Microfinance Initiative For Asia (MIFA), in terms of capacity building activities focused on improving social performance management practices.
The case study of Aye Finance in India was introduced by Esbaile as the first MFI to successfully join the program. Aye Finance India has made strides with integrating social performance management in its activities with support from BlueOrchard and CERISE. The close cooperation between the three parties in defining priority actions increased the impact of this social performance management project. The key output was Aye Finance’s improved internal capacity development to provide financial services in line with the needs of their clients, micro-enterprises.
Apoorva AGGARWAL presented Aye Finance’s approach to SPM. Firstly, a qualified internal SPI4 auditor will annually assess the institution’s internal processes and activities against the Universal Standards for Social Performance Measurement. This assessment provides information for the SPM action plan to address key areas of improvement, and ensures alignment with Aye Finance’s mission statement.
Secondly, Aye Finance conducted an impact assessment survey to measure the impact of Aye Finance’s credit services on the livelihoods of its clients. The key research areas of the impact assessment study were: the existing business conditions; the socio-economic conditions; and, the access to credit for Aye Finance’s clients. This impact assessment survey acts as a baseline study, which will be followed by a study in the coming years to understand the impact of Aye Finance’s interventions. The progress made on key social performance indicators is shared with external stakeholders to communicate Aye Finance’s commitment to impact investing.
Cécile LAPENU subsequently mentioned the following key lessons that CERISE learned from the collaboration with Aye Finance and BlueOrchard:
The session was closed by reflecting on the observed impact of the COVID-19 Crisis on client surveys. There has been a rapid response by MFIs to adapt the data collection processes. The COVID-19 crisis has shown a clear need for frequent client data collection through standardised and remote impact assessment surveys. Direct contact with clients through phone calls has an additional benefit of removing doubts about the stability of the financial service providers. Moreover, survey results obtained in this way generate insights in how to adapt current products to meet clients’ needs in these troubled times.