From the February 2013 letter to the Women’s World Banking Network:

Smart Campaign Client Protection Certification Program

Fair treatment of clients is an underlying tenant of the nine pillars that comprise the Women’s World Banking Network Member Pledge. As a network we are committed to serving clients through the provision of a range of financial services, and – more importantly — serving them well; client protection is a key component of this vision. With this in mind, Women’s World Banking is pleased to announce our endorsement of the recently launched Smart Campaign Client Protection Certification Program.

The Smart Campaign brought client protection to the forefront of the microfinance industry, and during the past few years has made enormous strides in developing standardized practices. The launch of the Certification Program represents another milestone in the development of a truly client-centric microfinance sector.

Transparency initiatives and mechanisms for complaint resolution are critical for women, and gender-sensitive communications and policies will ensure that women clients are served effectively. In addition, we believe that fair treatment of clients can go beyond protection, and allow women to see that they are respected customers, perhaps changing their perceptions of themselves, their households and their communities.

Like the Smart Campaign, Women’s World Banking believes that client protection makes business sense. Clients who are treated with respect, and who know their providers adhere to high ethical standards are likely to be more loyal and lower risk customers. This link between financial and social performance is key to our work, as we continue to build the business case for serving women.

We are proud to share with you that two of the first MFIs to be certified by the Smart Campaign are members of the Women’s World Banking network. Please join me in congratulating MI-BOSPO (Bosnia and Herzegovina) and Ujjivan Financial Services (India) on receiving the Client Protection Certification. For example, Ujjivan has taken great strides to ensure every client receives proper treatment and support by implementing several best practices, including:

  • Placing Customer Care Representatives in 220 branches.
  • Developing a Comprehensive Fair Practices Code (CoC) to include standards recommended by the Reserve Bank of India, MFIN & the Smart Campaign.
  • Displaying Fair Practice Code posters prominently in all branches.
  • Revising loan agreements, customer training leaflets & other communications to include transparency standards.
  • Implementing programs to educate staff and customers on the Fair Practices Code and Grievance Redressal Process.
  • Distributing “Flip Cards” to all customers, which include complaint resolution procedures and customer Do’s & Don’ts.