Guidelines for Funders

Financial inclusion attracts funding from a range of funders, including bilateral and multilateral agencies, development finance institutions, foundations, social and commercial investors, and international NGOs, all with very different objectives and approaches. Over the last 30 years, we have learned a lot about what works and what doesn’t in increasing poor people’s access to financial services. To help translate these lessons into good practice standards for funders, CGAP uses its convening role and works closely with its members and other partners committed to financial inclusion.

A Market Systems Approach to Financial Inclusion: Guidelines for Funders provides overall guidance for funders of financial inclusion. It encourages funders to help develop the market systems around the delivery and use of financial services. Rather than a narrow focus on institution-building, this approach to financial inclusion aims to change the dynamics of financial services markets system to the benefit of the poor. As its predecessor, the Good Practice Guidelines for Funders of Microfinance (2006), the new funder guidelines aim to capture a broad consensus of what is considered good practice. To write the guidelines, CGAP consulted with global experts on the market systems approach and solicited feedback from over 50 representatives of organizations that fund financial inclusion, both in-person and through an online collaborative platform. The resulting guidelines seek to raise awareness of good practice and improve the effectiveness of donors’ and investors’ microfinance operations.

Additional CGAP publications hone in on different aspects of developing inclusive financial markets. The Focus Note Facilitating the Market for Capacity Building Services looks at what it takes to facilitate a sustainable, commercially viable market for capacity building services delivered to FSPs. Facilitating Market Development to Advance Financial Inclusion provides the conceptual framework for applying a market systems approach to financial inclusion.

CGAP has also worked with the private investors’ industry to develop guidelines. More than half of the total funding for microfinance is now managed by specialized Microfinance Investment Vehicles (MIVs). MIV investment levels quadrupled between 2006 and 2008, and today more than 100 MIVs manage total assets of around $7 billion. Working with leading asset managers, industry experts, and investors’ associations such as IAMFI and CMEF, CGAP has developed standards for MIV financial performance reporting and environmental, social and governance (ESG) disclosures. Published in 2010, the MIV Disclosure Guidelines aim to improve MIV transparency and help define and benchmark the performance of microfinance investments.

In addition, CGAP has also developed a savings resource guide for funders. Supporting savings mobilization is fundamental to building inclusive financial systems and many microfinance funders have long recognized the importance of savings services for poor people. The savings guide covers the issues funders need to consider when focusing on the expansion of voluntary savings mobilization, and is meant to be a reference document for donor and investor staff that design, implement, and monitor programs and investments.

Contact: Barbara Scola


03 September 2015
These guidelines are intended to provide guidance for funders promoting financial inclusion or pro-poor financial services markets as part of their development mandate. The target audience includes multilateral and bilateral donors, development finance institutions, and foundations.
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English (538.04 KB) | French (439.91 KB)
02 July 2014
This Technical Guide is aimed at funders interested in analyzing their effectiveness in financial inclusion. It describes the methodology of the SmartAid Index and explains how to use SmartAid.
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From Our Blog

01 October 2015
1 comment
Shifting to a market systems approach has many practical and operational implications, especially around staffing, relationships, monitoring and evaluation, and coordination. USAID is one organization that is implementing these shifts and is sharing some lessons learned along the way.
16 September 2015
Shifting to a market systems approach to funding financial inclusion has been a challenge, although effective, for JICA.