The Client Protection Principles are basic principles in microfinance that aid microfinance providers to practice smart business and in the process exhibit good ethics. They are the minimum standards clients expect from us as providers. The question is, what do clients expect?
- Clients expect not only good service provision in terms of relation with them and responsiveness with a smile, but they expect that the products and services MFCs sell them will suit their needs and not cause them harm.
- They expect that products and services given them by the MFC would not leave them in debt or over-indebted.
- They expect that we communicate clearly, sufficiently and on time. That we communicate in language they understand, and that we don’t hide charges and fees from them. We should be real with them.
- That our prices, terms and conditions will be affordable for them and at the same time not collapse the MFC…the win-win situation.
- That we and our agents treat them fairly and with respect, no room for discrimination. This treatment they expect should be both in words and in action.
- That their information be safe with us, and not be shared with our relatives, friends, other clients or stakeholders without their given consent.
- That we have a means for them to voice out or channel their complaints to the appropriate quarters for solution.
Are our clients asking too much of us as providers? No, not at all. MFCs are also clients to other financial service providers and we ask them to do these very same things. These principles are not in place to force us into a straight jacket, but to help us streamline our practices to ensure that our main source of income – i.e. the clients are protected, secure and satisfied with how we treat them and value their patronage. When our clients are happy with our products and services, they stay with us, patronize our products and even refer others to us…it’s rather a good way to achieve a win-win scenario.
Take a minute to consider these questions: Is your MFC adhering to the Client Protection Principles? How well do you and your staff know the principles? Have you assessed your company to determine your adherence and gaps to strengthen?
If your answer to any of these questions was no or partially, then please visit the SMART Campaign website at https://www.smartcampaign.org/about/smart-microfinance-and-the-client-protection-principles and learn more about this intervention.