The workshop “Towards the harmony between financial and social performance of micro-finance” was held in Hanoi on 2 days (February 24th – 25th, 2014) with a view to improving the quality of microfinance services in Vietnam. TYM had joined forces with INFI (Innovations in Financial Inclusion in Southeast Asia) and M&D (Microfinance & Development Centre) to hold this workshop.
This is the first workshop ever held in Vietnam where the Social Performance Management standards are discussed in depth regarding how to achive the balance between financial and social performance in microfinance activities in order to serve the poor better. The needs for Social Performance Management (SPM) standards in microfinance industry originated from the fact that many microfinance institutions (MFIs) used to overstress the importance of financial objectives with a consequential detriment on their clients’ benefits. . Besides, many development assistance projects also use microfinance as a tool of economic leverage for vulnerable groups in the society but with a disproportionate focus on social returns such as 0% – interest loans, low-interest-rate loans, loans without rotation scheme, lack of attention to the financial sustainability of microfinance’s activities. These are two common extremities in the microfinance industry in Vietnam and almost all other developing countries. Applying the SPM standards is a solution for this problem. The workshop aimed at helping development assistance projects and microfinance institutions have a better understanding of the standards and apply them in order to reach the balance in their activities.
At the workshop, many experts from Nertherland, Sri Lanka, Gruzia, Laos, Philippines and Vietnam took the opportunity to share their experiences in enhancing the quality of microfinance services. Microfinance is supposed to uphold the ‘double bottom lines’ of equal importance i.e. social and financial returns. The seminar trained participants on the tools to reach these two objectives. Participants also discussed issues arising from theirdaily practices to draw out useful and practical lessons.