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Tracking The Fight Against Poverty In the Cloud

May 31, 2011

Steve Wright is Director of the Social Performance Management Center at Grameen Foundation.

The team at the Grameen Foundation Social Performance Management Center (SPMC) is trying to solve a problem fundamental to poverty alleviation: how to accurately measure who is reaching the poor and to what extent. The Progress out of Poverty Index® (PPI®)  is the necessary first step toward addressing those questions. An easy-to-use tool, it enables microfinance institutions (MFIs) to obtain consistent, measurable and reliable data, as well as giving them the ability to use the results to improve their services to the poor. The PPI is currently the industry-standard poverty measurement tool used by MFIs globally.

Over the last four years, Grameen Foundation staff has heard from MFIs, as well as from MFI networks and associations, that they need to integrate PPI data with their management information systems to gain critical business intelligence (for example, to learn how a particular loan product is performing at a particular level). We have worked closely with these organizations to understand their requirements and prototype the tools that they need.

Today, we’re delighted to announce that we will be creating a PPI management tool that users will access via the Internet. This new, cloud-based PPI application – made possible by generous funding from The Moody’s Foundation and built on the Force.com platform from Salesforce.com – will make the PPI even more dynamic and easier to use, enabling more organizations to use it to collect, analyze and report social performance data.

Another Look at How We’re Measuring Microfinance’s Impact

June 24, 2010

Kathleen Odell is an assistant professor of economics at Dominican University’s Brennan School of Business. Her new paper examines major microfinance studies conducted since 2005 and is a follow-up to a 2005 Grameen Foundation report by Nathanael Goldberg which examined studies conducted between 1970 and 2005.

[caption id="attachment_721" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Clients of Maata-N Tudu (Ghana)"][/caption]

On Thursday June 10 in New York, I introduced Grameen Foundation’s newly released paper, Measuring the Impact of Microfinance: Taking Another Look (which I authored) to a surprisingly large and attentive audience at J.P. Morgan.  An estimated 360 people were in attendance to hear my brief introduction and the 45 minute panel discussion that followed.  The discussion was moderated by  Christina Leijonhufvud, Head of Social Finance at J.P. Morgan; the panel included Camilla Nestor, Vice President of Microfinance Programs at Grameen Foundation, Jonathan Morduch, Professor of Public Policy and Economics at New York University and co-author of Portfolios of the Poor: How the World's Poor Live on $2 a Day and the newly released Economics of Microfinance, Second Edition, and Neil MacFarquhar U.N. Bureau Chief at the New York Times, and author of recent NYT article, "Banks Making Big Profits From Tiny Loans.”

The title of the lunch-hour event was “Does microfinance reduce poverty? A debate on the social impact of microfinance as a development tool.”  In the invitation, the “debate” was outlined as follows:

Microcredit has been successful in increasing access to capital by the poor but does it actually reduce poverty for the people it intends to help? Join us for a discussion on the effect of microfinance on the lives of poor people. Hear leading experts examine the value of microcredit as a tool for fighting poverty.

By the end of the hour, a few things were clear.  The most obvious conclusion was that 60 minutes wasn’t nearly enough time to come to any resolution on the question at hand (Does microfinance reduce poverty?) – it was barely enough time to outline the question itself.  Having spent the last six months engrossed in the literature on the social impact of microfinance, I anticipated that the discussion might center on some of the latest impact assessment research, upcoming studies, unanswered questions, and possibly the surprisingly incendiary debate about the merits and disadvantages of various impact assessment methodologies.  In fact, the panel discussion, and the questions that followed, was largely concerned with the relationship of microloan interest rates, profits, and social impact.  Given the venue and the audience, this turn really isn’t surprising.

PPI Shows Fonkoze that Clients Are Moving Out of Poverty

November 18, 2009

The PPI at Fonkoze: Case StudyWhen you read about organizations that help the poor, do you wonder how they know they are making a difference? We’re seeing positive results in Haiti, the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. Fonkoze, the largest microfinance institution (MFI) in Haiti, is demonstrating that their programs help clients move out of poverty.

For Fonkoze, the mission is clear: target the poor and ultra-poor, mainly women in rural areas, and provide services to meet their special needs. In 2006, Fonkoze—working with Grameen Foundation--introduced the Progress out of Poverty Index™ (PPI™) assessment tool to measure the poverty level of its clients and to track their progress.

 

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