CERISE boasts expertise in three areas related to access to finance and ethical finance




Social performance

At CERISE, we mobilize our expertise to help MFIs build strong relationships with their clients. Along with our partners, CERISE has been pioneering social performance assessment since 2001.

We worked collaboratively with a range of stakeholders in the North and South (MFIs, networks, TA providers, investors, donors, researchers) to design the SPI – Social Performance Indicators – audit tool and continue to promote the SPI as a way to strengthen client-centered management.



A social audit allows institutions to determine whether they have the systems in place to meet their social objectives. It identifies strengths to communicate and build on, and actions to improve practices.


In 2014, CERISE and the Social Performance Task Force created, with the support of their membership, the 4th generation of the SPI tool, aligned with the Universal Standards for Social Performance Management and theSmart Campaign Client Protection Principles.

The SPI4 aims to streamline social performance assessment and reduce the reporting burden on MFIs. The SPI4 is available for free a dedicated website.


CERISE works with investors to support their social strategy and promote ethical finance in microfinance.

Our Social Audit tool for Microfinance Investment Intermediaries – SAM – provides a framework to assess investor practices. The SAM tool draws on the United Nations’ Principles for Responsible Finance (PRI) framework, CGAP’s SmartAid framework, and the indicators monitored by the Principles for Investors in Inclusive Finance.

Contact us to find out more about SAM.


National, regional and global networks are important allies for improving social performance at a national or regional level. CERISE accompanies networks who want to support their members, by helping networks map out their social results (annual reports, databases, dashboards), and refine their social strategy.

For example, as part of a joint project between CERISE and the Microfinance Center (MFC), microfinance network in Eastern Europe, a document called the DecisionTree was developed. The DecisionTree offers step by step guidance to networks to develop and implement their own social performance strategy based on member needs.


CERISE’s approach to governance is based on first identifying the actors involved, and their decision-making powers. Next, we analyze the mechanisms that define strategy, management and risk management capacities.  We believe the art of governance goes far beyond the relationships between the Board and management. It is about managing politicized relationshipspower strugglesconflicts of interestsand clearly defining roles and responsibilities within an institution.

CERISE has written an operational guide (French) to analyze the governance of a microfinance institution based on this approach. The guide gave rise to course modules that have been duplicated under the former CAPAF program in West Africa. The course was revamped in 2011-2012 with support from the Smart Campaign, CGAP and the Imp-Act consortium, to integration client protection and social performance concepts. Download the Governance Guide.


In 2012, CERISE expanded our expertise to social business. Drawing on our experience in microfinance and the innovative efforts of our members and partners, CERISE created a working group to discuss approaches to this new form of entrepreneurship.

The group realized early on that while enthusiasm for social businesses was growing, there was no clear definition of what, exactly, defined this new sector. The members set out to create a common framework for analyzing social business, both to boost the sector’s credibility and avoid misuse of the concept. The Social Business Scorecard – SBS – is the fruit of these efforts.

In 2014, CERISE partnered with AFD to analyze 10 case studies organizations using the Social Business Scorecard. The Scorecard, as well as the results and recommendations for each organization, can be found on our dedicated SBS website.


CERISE has honed expertise in access to finance for producers’ organizations, particularly within the framework of fair trade contracts.

In conjunction with our members, CERISE has analyzed constraints to financing and reflected on solutions, published in the French-language operational guideOrganisation Professionnelles Agricoles et Institutions Financières Rurales: construire une nouvelle alliance au service de l’agriculture familiale.

We’ve also worked with MaxHavelaar France to improve access to finance for producers’ organizations and family farmers associated with fair trade crops.

In 2014, the Platform for Fair Trade contacted CERISE to study the availability of pre-financing options within the framework of fair trade contracts. Learn more about what investment funds have to offer in this area by reading the results of the report.