Keeping a sharp eye on social performance

andrea-dominguez.jpg26 March | 2013

For Oikocredit, social returns are as important as financial returns. To assist our partners and the wider microfinance community in maintaining social practices, Oikocredit has a social performance officer in every region.

Andrea Domínguez is one of our social performance officers who covers five Latin American countries; Uruguay, Bolivia, Argentina, Paraguay and Brazil. Andrea, who operates from the Uruguayan capital Montevideo, explains what she’s been doing in her region and what will be keeping her busy in 2013.

You manage social performance in five countries, what types of organizations do you mostly work with?

“As we have over 100 partners in our region alone, we focus on assisting those partners with social performance management (SPM) training and also capacity building. As around 80% of our partners are microfinance institutions (MFIs), we (country managers and I) are mainly working with them to mentor and support them on their social practices in their day-to-day operations and long-term goals.”

How do you manage social performance in your region?

“One of Oikocredit’s due diligence tools for partner selection is an Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) score card. Our partners all have social goals and missions which are evaluated in the ESG scorecard and part of the criteria is that they are aligned with Oikocredit’s own goals and missions. My role is to ensure that our partners, once financed by Oikocredit, continue operating in accordance with those social goals and missions. As I manage five countries, it is of course different for each country and partner, but mostly my role is about raising awareness around initiatives such as the Smart Campaign and providing training to partners about how SPM works and how they can implement it into their day-to-day practices and long-term objectives. We try to continually provide training and education to our partners about social practices and realistic goals they can achieve within their own organization.”

Can you give us some examples of what you’ve been doing in your region?

“In countries like Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay, microfinance is still a relatively new sector, so promoting social performance throughout the entire sector is very important for us. Last August, the Regional Development Centre, South America Southern Region (RDC SASR) and country office Paraguay organized an SPM workshop for various stakeholders in the MFI sector. It was not just a workshop for Oikocredit partners, but also for policymakers who wanted to know more about SPM. This was a way to provide training about social performance and also promote initiatives such as the client protection principles which can be implemented into an MFI’s operations. Through workshops like these, we aim to make an impact on the microfinance sector, not just Oikocredit partners.”

What’s in store for 2013 in your region?

“The main challenge for 2013 will be implementing the mentoring programme. We will try to implement this programme first in Paraguay whilst also planning SPM workshops in Bolivia and Brazil. We’re also managing several initiatives which were approved last year regarding capacity building. For those cases, the impact study will be the main challenge to confirm that these initiatives were successful. A preliminary pipeline for capacity building has already been approved for 2013, so we also have that target to achieve for this year.”

Oikocredit’s € 3.6 million capacity building fund

The origin of funds includes donor grants from ICCO, Church of Sweden and smaller donors. Oikocredit also adds resources to the Capacity Building Fund from its annual net financial result. In 2012, Oikocredit increased disbursement of funds for capacity building, supporting over 90 initiatives with a special focus on the agricultural sector.

Focus areas for capacity building include:

  • Social Performance Management
  • Risk Management and Governance
  • Market Coverage Analysis and Strategic Positioning
  • Product Development
  • Agricultural Value Chain Finance 

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