Blog: Why are Gender-Sensitive Performance Indicators Important for Microfinance Institutions?
Microfinance institutions facilitate access to financial and non-financial services for low-income earners who are often shut out of traditional banking systems due to lack of collateral. By leveraging small-dollar loans, installment plans for repayment, group loan structures and more, these institutions bridge the gap in financial inclusion. Lending can be to individuals, groups, village banking organizations and credit unions, amongst others.
In Burkina Faso, as in many other countries, women are the biggest customers of microfinance institutions. (Men tend to yield control of resources, decision-making power and more, resulting in barriers for women to access financial resources.) Meanwhile, these institutions have diverse stakeholders—comprising clients, trustee boards, the public, international donors and local government institutions—to whom they are accountable. With an efficient, gender-sensitive monitoring and evaluation (M&E) system in place, these institutions can improve oversight of their programs, learn continuously and use evidence-based data to communicate the impact of their work. Conducting M&E with a gender lens is both good for society and good for business.
Tanager’s Impacting Gender & Nutrition through Innovative Technical Exchange in Agriculture (IGNITE) project conducted a two-day gender performance indicators training in March for the Association of Decentralized Financial Systems of Burkina Faso and four of its members—Promotion du Développement Industriel Artisanal et Agricole (PRODIA), Groupe d’Accompagnement à l’Investissement et à l’Epargne (GRAINE SARL), Caisse Mutuelle du Burkina Faso (CMBF), and Coopérative Baïtoul Maal (CBM)—to review existing M&E frameworks, identify financial inclusion gender performance indicators and develop an action plan on the next steps. The training was led by IGNITE Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning (MEL) expert Charles Karari and gender experts Sokhna Gaye and Josiane Ouedraogo, in collaboration with PanAfricare.
From the training, participants gained insights on the importance of gender-based M&E in tracking progress of their work. Some gender performance indicators include:
- Percent of women with loans;
- The type of products women prefer;
- Gender equality in terms of pay and percentage of females in managerial positions;
- Staff diversity; and
- Availability of an institutional gender policy.
These data sets help microfinance institutions gauge the level of effort they are putting into promoting women’s empowerment and help identify necessary gender equality interventions that can help institutions meet their objectives.
It was clear that the majority of microfinance institutions analyze the impact of their work through indicators that measure business progress and profits. However, they have no “customer-facing” indicators to measure their impact on households’ well-being, agency, and the economic empowerment of men, women and youth.
The training participants identified 10 priority indicators that were not being used within their respective organizations but will start using going forward. Additionally, some of them committed to use data already available in their information systems but had not previously been applied to determining their level of gender integration and nutrition-sensitive programming.