Washington, DC, April 13, 2022  – Global nonprofit Accion announced today its participation in a new financial inclusion index, part of a global effort by impact measurement partner 60 Decibels to promote standard, comparable impact outcomes data for the microfinance industry.

The initiative, expected to launch before the end of Q2, will be the first microfinance index driven entirely by end customer voices. The index will include aggregated data from the customers of 72 participating microfinance institutions (MFIs) from across 41 countries, supported by 19 founding partners. Collected through phone surveys, the data and resulting insights will be shared in a public report and dashboard to establish performance benchmarks for ongoing impact measurement and management by MFIs and their funders.

“We’re excited to collaborate with 60 Decibels and our MFI partners to gain a better understanding of what works to advance financial inclusion,” said Michael Schlein, President and CEO of Accion. “As we work with financial service providers to find new ways to equip families and small businesses with the tools they need to thrive, we must also find new ways to gauge our impact and effectiveness. The insights from this index will provide a valuable guiderail for our work to empower vulnerable populations to build a more resilient future.”

For each participating MFI, 60 Decibels researchers survey a representative sample (200-250 respondents) of MFI customers and conduct a standardized phone survey to gather quantitative and qualitative data along five key dimensions of impact. The survey, developed by 60 Decibels and based on its experience working with hundreds of companies in the financial inclusion space, utilizes questions proven to assess and compare social outcomes across five impact themes: Access, Business Impact, Household Impact, Financial Management, and Resilience. The aggregated data from all participating MFIs will establish benchmarks to be shared in the public report, providing essential insight into the range of performance on these key outcomes to be utilized across the MFI industry.

“We started listening to end customers eight years ago because the standard of practice — things like counting the number of customers reached — wasn’t telling us if people’s lives were improving,” said Sasha Dichter, CEO and co-founder of 60 Decibels. “We’re thrilled at the response to this initiative and the collaboration of so many industry leaders to listen better and set a new standard in understanding social outcomes. This index brings the value of our impact benchmarks to a new level and helps MFIs and investors understand customer outcomes with 100 percent comparability for each and every metric.”

In addition to providing insights that will be directly applicable for impact management in the microfinance sector, the index aims to demonstrate the value of rigorous outcomes data from end stakeholders for understanding impact performance. In the coming year, 60 Decibels will produce sector-level benchmarks through similar index efforts in other sectors to elevate the importance of listening to end stakeholders to drive greater impact.

The index is designed to complement and integrate with existing frameworks and standards in microfinance, impact investing, and international development. Participation in the MFI Index to conduct surveys with clients provides MFIs and investors with feedback on the practices recommended by SPTF and CERISE in the Universal Standards and the Client Protection Principles, as well as the SDG Impact Standards, and provides data aligned to IRIS+ metrics and the five dimensions of impact guidance established by the Impact Management Project.

Learn more and sign up to receive the 60 Decibels Financial Inclusion Index here.

About Accion

Accion is a global nonprofit committed to creating a financially inclusive world, with a pioneering legacy in microfinance and fintech impact investing. We catalyze financial service providers to deliver high-quality, affordable solutions at scale for the three billion people who are left out of — or poorly served by — the financial sector. For 60 years, Accion has helped tens of millions of people through our work with more than 170 partners in 55 countries. More at http://www.accion.org.

About 60 Decibels

60 Decibels is a global, tech-enabled impact measurement company that brings speed and repeatability to social impact measurement and customer insights. We provide genuine benchmarks of impact performance, enabling organizations to understand impact relative to peers and set performance targets. We have a network of 850+ researchers in 70+ countries, and have worked with more than 800 of the world’s leading impact investors, companies, foundations, corporations, NGOs, and public sector organizations. 60 Decibels makes it easy to listen to the people who matter most.