Accion Pledges Support for Smart Campaign's Client Protection Certification
Accion today pledged support for the Smart Campaign’s Client Protection Certification Program. The program, created by the Center for Financial Inclusion at Accion, launched in January to ensure that client-protection standards are both achievable and valued by the microfinance industry.
“Protecting the most vulnerable people in the world—those living in poverty—is critically important and we are pleased to support this new phase of the Smart Campaign,” said Michael Schlein, President and CEO of Accion. “Client protection certification is valuable and necessary for microfinance, which is why Accion has committed to having three to five of our partner institutions undergo certification within the next year. We believe these standards will set the bar for other practitioners.”
The program will formally certify retail financial institutions that uphold 30 standards of client protection as they provide services to financially excluded or underserved populations. These standards keep clients at the forefront as institutional and industry priorities, and reward microfinance institutions that consistently deliver on their commitment to clients.
The Certification Program is rooted in the Smart Campaign’s seven Client Protection Principles:
Appropriate product design and delivery
Prevention of over-indebtedness
Fair and respectful treatment of clients
Privacy of client data, and
Mechanisms for complaint resolution.
Accion was an early proponent and endorser of these principles, which are gaining broad support in the global microfinance industry. The organization has always been an advocate for higher industry standards and, in fact, helped launch the Smart Campaign in 2009 through its Center for Financial Inclusion. Consumer protection is a cornerstone of the Center’s initiatives.
By standardizing these tenets, certification will help build a stronger, more stable global microfinance industry. The certification program is already gaining broad support from global microfinance institutions, networks, and investors. Many individual institutions have expressed interest in becoming certified, and several large microfinance networks, in addition to Accion’s, have already set certification targets for their affiliates. For more information, visit www.smartcampaign.org.
Accion is a global nonprofit dedicated to building a financially inclusive world, with access to economic opportunity for all, by giving people the financial tools they need to improve their lives. A world pioneer in microfinance, Accion has helped build 63 microfinance institutions in 32 countries on four continents, which today reach millions of clients. The Accion U.S. Network is the largest microfinance network in the country and, since inception, has served hundreds of thousands of clients with loans and support.
About the Smart Campaign
The Smart Campaign is a global movement to embed a set of client protection principles deep within the microfinance industry. It is governed by a steering committee representing a broad cross-section of the industry and is housed at the Center for Financial Inclusion at Accion. By providing microfinance institutions with the tools and resources needed to deliver transparency, respectful and prudent financial services to all clients, the Smart Campaign is helping the industry maintain its commitment to treating clients fairly.