Karachi, Pakistan, 11 September 2009 - The First MicroFinanceBank Ltd. (FMFB) recently signed an agreement with Harvard University to develop social performance indicators through a participatory approach whereby the poor articulate their needs and influence the Bank’s creation of microfinance products and services.
The ultimate aim of this project is to integrate the social performance indicators into the Bank’s organisational performance management system so they can be used to assess the impact of the Bank’s services on poor populations in Pakistan.
Guy Stuart, a lecturer in public policy at the Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, is working with FMFB to conduct research on a participatory approach for the development of the indicators. This project will survey 10,000 households throughout Pakistan to understand how communities rate poverty and what they consider as poverty indicators. The survey will differentiate the rural, urban and mountain rural areas of Pakistan. The Social Performance Research (SPR) project has been undertaken in partnership with Harvard University and with financial assistance from the Swiss Development Corporation.
As part of the SPR project, FMFB and Harvard conducted a series of participatory need assessment surveys across Pakistan in addition to Participatory Wealth Ranking (PWR) exercises. Through these exercises, a cross section of poor households in rural and urban areas was engaged to identify and prioritise their needs so that the Bank could address them through targeted financial services. These indicators will be integrated into FMFB’s management information system so that the Bank can conduct impact assessment surveys to track the changes in the livelihood of the poor in relation to its services. The methodology for this project was piloted in 500 households, in nine areas throughout Pakistan. Now that the pilot is complete, 10,000 households will be surveyed.
FMFB, as a member of the Global Social Performance Task Force, has also been engaged to translate its social development mission into practice through the implementation of social performance management into its core operations.
Over the last 70 years, the Harvard Kennedy School has been leading research into public policy and is one of the world’s most prominent social science research institutions, with 15 centres of research and more than 30 degree programmes. Each year, faculty at the school write more than 35 books and publish more than 300 academic papers on subjects ranging from the nature of leadership to urban poverty. In partnership with FMFB, the Harvard Kennedy School is responsible for the research and the development of the scorecards and evaluating the results of the PWR exercises.
FMFB is a non-commercial, private sector microfinance bank licensed by the State Bank of Pakistan. FMFB has been ranked as seventh among top 100 microfinance institutions by World Bank affiliate, the Consultative Group to Assist the Poor. The Bank strives to alleviate poverty through sustainable economic development by offering credit, savings and life insurance services along with an efficient and low cost fund transfer service to its target populations. FMFB has over 157 business locations comprising 89 automated branches and 68 Pakistan Post Sub Offices throughout Pakistan. From December 2008 to June 2009, FMFB has disbursed over 219,820 loans, valued at PKR 3.054 million (US $0.04 million).
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Since its establishment in 2005, the Aga Khan Agency for Microfinance (AKAM) has brought together over 25 years of microfinance activities, programmes and banks that were administered by sister agencies within the Aga Khan Development Network. The underlying objectives of AKAM are to reduce poverty, diminish the vulnerability of poor populations and alleviate economic and social exclusion. AKAM is a not-for-profit, non-denominational, international development agency created under Swiss law. Its headquarters are in Geneva, Switzerland. It is governed by an independent Board of Directors. The Chairman of the Board is His Highness the Aga Khan.