Publications and Resources

Measuring the Impact of Microfinance: Looking to the Future  January 2015

Over the last several years, a revolution in thinking has taken place concerning the role of financial services in global economic development. In this context, it is critical to make a distinction between two elements in this revolution: microfinance and financial inclusion. Microfinance is the global industry that provides credit, savings accounts, insurance products, and various combinations of these products to poor households. Financial inclusion is the effort to ensure that poor households have access to the financial tools they need to build assets, manage risk, smooth cash flows, and take advantage of income- generating opportunities. While credit, savings, and insurance all remain central to this effort, financial inclusion brings increasing emphasis on the overall financial ecosystem, including payments systems and the engagement of a range of providers. This shift in thinking creates a compelling challenge for this third paper in the Measuring the Impact of Microfinance series.

Measuring the Impact of Microfinance: Looking to the future is the third in a series of literature reviews commissioned by the Grameen Foundation to survey and contextualize the available evidence on the impact of microfinance.  The Microfinance CEO Working Group is especially pleased to be copublishing this document for one simple reason: All of us need to fully understand the state of the research in the field we are dedicating our lives to. This study does just that, using language everyone can understand. Most of us are not researchers, and not all of the research out there is accessible in a meaningful way to us. This review of the literature makes a massive amount of the best research accessible to all of us.

This report was authored by Kathleen E. Odell and published by the Grameen Foundation, Accion, Dominican University’s Brennan School of Business, and the Microfinance CEO Working Group.


Client Protection Principles: Model Law and Commentary for Financial Consumer Protection (English PDF(Spanish PDF) (French PDF(Russian PDF(Arabic PDF)

This Model Law and Commentary (collectively, the “Model Law”) creates a legal framework for financial consumer protection based on the Smart Campaign’s Client Protection Principles. The Smart Campaign is a global effort guided by the experience and expertise of microfinance leaders from around the world who are committed to following positive client protection practices. The Client Protection Principles represent a global consensus across the sector regarding the standards of conduct and treatment clients should receive from financial service providers. The Model Law draws upon a broad survey of experts, relevant scholarship, and existing laws and regulations from countries across the globe, and is intended for three main uses:
  • For policymakers to use as a tool in developing actual, enacted legislation
  • To assess a given jurisdiction’s client protection regulatory regime
  • To serve as a resource for the development of codes of conduct and guidelines, either for a single financial service provider or for any group or industry association

Special thanks to DLA Piper/New Perimeter for preparing the Model Law, to Accion for serving as Project Manager on behalf of the Council of Microfinance Counsels, and to the Smart Campaign for its contributions.

The authors welcome any and all comments and suggestions for future revisions of the Model Law. Feedback can be sent to or by commenting here.


Over-Indebtedness: A Risk Management Approach (Spanish) and Over-Indebtedness in Mexico: Its Effect on Borrowers (Spanish) April 2014

The Microfinance CEO Working Group is pleased to release two new publications. These companion publications present a critical analysis of some of the risks surrounding over-indebtedness in the microfinance industry.

  • Over-Indebtedness: A Risk Management Approach PDF  (El Sobreendeudamiento: Abordando la Gestion de Riesgos PDF ) looks at the leading indicators of the trend toward over-indebtedness and delineates steps that microfinance institutions can take to mitigate the risks should over-indebtedness hit the markets in which they operate.
  • Over-Indebtedness in Mexico: Its Effect on Borrowers PDF  (El Sobreendeudamiento en México: Sus Efectos en los Prestatarios PDF ) studies the specific threat of over-indebtedness in Mexico by analyzing credit data from a pool of loan applicants, a survey of branch managers, and qualitative interviews with borrowers themselves, many of whom were experiencing or had experienced debt problems.


Microfinance CEO Working Group: 2014 Strategic Plan March 2014

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The Microfinance CEO Working Group is pleased to share its strategic plan for 2014. At this moment, microfinance has an opportunity to build on past successes and learn from and respond to the challenges it faces in order to be a more responsive and responsible industry. By taking sincere and systematic action together, we believe we can build more successful financial institutions that help change the lives of the people we serve. We are committed to doing that within our own institutions, but also aspire to influencing the entire sector. We have and will continue to build strategic relationships with other stakeholders, including investors, donors, networks, standard setting initiatives, and providers. We will also continue to seek out exciting new advances in the industry and speak out against unfair microfinance practices or distortions. We hope we can count on your solidarity with us in these efforts.


Insights from “Beta-Testing” the Universal Standards for Social Performance Management 
May 2013

Microfinance CEO Working Group and their social performance directors have released the results of a yearlong project to understand the state of social performance in 21 member MFIs.  The resulting report is intended to provide feedback to the Social Performance Task Force on their Universal Standards for Social Performance Management, expand the industry’s understanding of the state of practice, and offer concrete guidance for MFIs and other institutions interested in beginning the process of applying the Universal Standards.


Microfinance CEOs Support Smart Campaign Certification January 2013

The Microfinance CEO Working Group released a joint statement in support of the new Smart Campaign Client Protection Certification program, which will enable MFIs to demonstrate to all stakeholders that they take client protection seriously. The CEOs state that the Certification program represents a “clear step toward a fully responsible microfinance sector.”


Global Appeal for Responsible Microfinance September 2012

In collaboration with Convergences 2015, a European microfinance and development organization, the Microfinance CEO Working Group launched the “Global Appeal for Responsible Microfinance,” a landmark document that urges all microfinance stakeholders – including practitioners, investors, and policymakers – to take concerted action to ensure a strong and principled microfinance industry. To date, the Global Appeal has been signed by more than 1,600 individuals and organizations – signifying the sector’s sincere commitment to responsible microfinance.


Road Map for the Microfinance Industry January 2012

In early 2012, the Working Group released a “Road Map for the Microfinance Industry,” which outlines the group’s vision for an industry rooted in client focus, high standards of performance, and a tireless search for improvement.


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