The MasterCard Foundation Announces $4.3 Million Partnership with The Smart Campaign to Strengthen Client Protection in Microfinance

Collaboration will help build a healthier, more client-focused microfinance industry

Washington D.C. , February 28, 2013-The MasterCard Foundation today announced a $4.3 million partnership with the Smart Campaign to strengthen client protection worldwide. The collaboration will support both the Smart Campaign’s work on the recently launched Client Protection Certification Program as well as a host of other valuable activities to support a healthier, more client-focused microfinance industry.

The Smart Campaign is a global effort to unite microfinance leaders around a common goal: to ensure that microfinance services are delivered in a transparent, respectful and prudent manner. The MasterCard Foundation is joining the Smart Campaign to implement a wide range of activities to strengthen client protection including developing training materials and other tools, conducting research and assessments of financial institutions, and capacity building, all building toward Client Protection Certification, an independent, third party evaluation to publicly recognize financial institutions that meet adequate standards of care in how they treat clients. It enables financial institutions to demonstrate adherence to the microfinance industry’s Client Protection Principles. The MasterCard Foundation’s collaboration will help ensure that the Smart Campaign continues to work with microfinance leaders from around the world to provide microfinance institutions with the tools and resources they need to operate in alignment with the values expressed in the Client Protection Principles.

Through this partnership, The MasterCard Foundation affirms that protecting clients is not only the right thing to do; it’s the smart thing to do. When microfinance institutions implement the Client Protection Principles, they build strong, lasting relationships with clients, increase client retention, and reduce financial risk. Similarly, by incorporating client protection into their investment criteria, microfinance investors can incentivize financial institutions to improve their practices. In the longer term, the Smart Campaign’s vision is that clients will be able to use certification in selecting their providers.

“We are excited to work with The MasterCard Foundation to ensure that standards of client protection are met worldwide,” said Isabelle Barrès, Director of the Smart Campaign. “Certification is necessary to advance the microfinance industry’s commitment of keeping clients at the heart of its work. Through incentivizing improved client protection practices and lowering the risk to clients, certification is contributing to a more responsible and stable industry. Our work with The MasterCard Foundation will enable us to conduct activities that lead microfinance institutions to be certification-ready.”

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 International. By providing microfinance institutions with the tools and resources they need 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.

About The MasterCard Foundation
The MasterCard Foundation advances microfinance and youth learning to promote financial inclusion and prosperity. Through collaboration with committed partners in 48 countries, The MasterCard Foundation is helping people living in poverty to access opportunities to learn and prosper. An independent foundation based in Toronto, Canada, it was established through the generosity of MasterCard Worldwide at the time of the company’s initial public offering in 2006.

* * *

Media Contact:
Alexandria Rizzi
Deputy Director, Smart Campaign