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Conversations on Progress
The Smart Campaign posits that what is needed for a financial service provider to follow client protection principles is:
- The will and commitment to make client protection an integral part of their operations.
- The practical know-how to translate Client Protection Principles into practice.
- Measurement and information systems to reveal what practices are working.
- Rules and incentives that reward good practice and penalize poor practice.
These elements come together in a certification program designed to build capacity and demonstrate compliance with standards embodying the Smart Campaign’s Client Protection Principles. As of August 2015, the Smart Campaign had certified 41 microfinance institutions providing services to over 20 million microfinance clients, with many more in the pipeline.
VisionFund AzerCredit in Azerbaijan found that the Smart Certification process helped them recruit and retain staff, hone messages to investors, and increase client financial literacy. By strengthening internal systems for consumer protection, they laid the groundwork for growth. Small improvements made a difference, such as upgrading a moribund complaints hotline into an active mechanism to identify systemic problems and interact with clients.