In 2015, the Microfinance CEO Working Group (MCWG) joined the IFC as a private sector partner in the World Bank Group’s Universal Financial Access 2020 initiative. As such the MCWG committed its members to opening at least 70 million new accounts by 2020, a significant step towards reaching the ambitious inclusion targets set by the IFC and World Bank.
This strategic partnership was complemented with a three year collaboration to accelerate responsible finance by supporting Smart Certification missions among the MCWG’s network: Accion, BRAC, CARE, FINCA International, Freedom from Hunger, Grameen Foundation, Opportunity International, Pro Mujer, VisionFund International, and Women’s World Banking.
The joint IFC-MCWG collaboration is aimed at building a critical mass of certified institutions to advance responsible microfinance globally. The goal is to work with at least 100 leading microfinance institutions with an outreach of 50 million clients worldwide. Each dollar invested by IFC’s contribution is leveraged significantly through the MFI, its affiliated Network, and other parallel efforts to advance client protection worldwide. Participating MFIs are selected are based on commitment, capacity, and client reach. By providing financial and technical resources, the joint collaboration enables affiliated MFIs to prepare for and undergo certification to meet the Smart Campaign’s Client Protection Principles. Making such practices an industry standard is central in realizing a vision where all clients are not only included, but both clients and institutional stability are also protected.
Today, more than 64 microfinance institutions worldwide have been Smart Certified, having reached more than 34 million clients around the world. More than half (52%) are affiliated with the IFC-MCWG collaboration. IFC and MCWG are thrilled by the initial results of and continued interest in the Accelerating Responsible Finance project. The only way to achieve Universal Financial Access by 2020 is to create a more competitive consumer protection marketplace that ensures a stable and sustainable financial system for everyone. Stay Tuned: additional MFIs have been identified as participants in the second certification cohort, with an additional expected reach of 600,000 clients.