Friday, March 9, 2012

Kiva Scholar: Social incentives for loan officers

We value being in tune with the latest news on microfinance and poverty alleviation. Kiva Scholar is designed to share research and developments in the field, and open the conversation up to you!

This week, we'd like to pass along an article written by former Kiva Fellow Julie Shea for the Center for Financial Inclusion Blog. Titled "Balancing Social and Financial Goals through a Staff Incentive Scheme," her post focuses the effectiveness of offering micro-credit loan officers incentives to provide social support services beyond loans.

Pedro, a loan officer for Kiva field partner ESPOIR in Ecuador, meets with a prospective client. ESPOIR offers an extensive healthcare program and other great wraparound services to clients, earning it five Social Performance badges from Kiva.

Providing social support services -- like health care or savings accounts -- can be a costly undertaking for a microfinance institution. This is especially true if the MFI makes it a mission to serve the poorer, riskier clients who are most in need of financial tools and access. Serving less risky clients and offering less expensive programs generally reflect well on an institution's bottom line.

That said, many MFIs strive to balance business with goals for social good. They make it a priority to serve clients' holistic needs despite costs and challenging logistics. In her article, Julie asks whether financial and social incentive schemes for loan officers have to be mutually. Her conclusion: These incentives could potentially be combined to promote both a healthy bottom line and MFIs' social missions.

Husein is a borrower through Al Majmoua in Lebanon. This MFI has also earned five Social Performance badges, going the extra mile to serve vulnerable populations and advocate for its clients whenever possible.

Read the article and let us know what you think at