The Seal of Excellence is a global initiative to focus on outcomes in microfinance. There are millions of people living in poverty who can change their living conditions if they have access to the right services. The Seal recognizes those practitioners that are doing the most to reach people living in poverty and to create positive and enduring change in their lives. The Seal will collect and share effective practices of these practitioners and, in so doing, will promote a learning community, alongside the Social Performance Task Force and others, of microfinance practitioners, networks, donors, investors, policymakers, regulators, researchers, and others who want to see measurable progress for poor families. All stakeholders stand to benefit by being able to differentiate those that are acting in the service of poor clients and those who only claim to do so.
In his remarks at the opening plenary session of the 2011 Global Microcredit Summit, John de Wit, Managing Director of Small Enterprise Foundation in South Africa, expressed his hopes for the Seal.
As a practitioner, what I am hoping for is that the Seal will be able to differentiate between those who are really trying to do constructive microfinance—who are really trying to make sure that we do deliver a difference in the lives of poor people, that we give them their chance at dignity, their chance of climbing out of poverty—from a lot of microfinance that is very, very worrying.
--John de Wit, Managing Director, Social Enterprise Foundation, South Africa
Watch the video of John de Wit’s presentation below. Watch the full plenary session on our You Tube Channel.
The goal is to set a vision for the sector that prioritizes effective poverty outreach and quality data collection and analysis. Through its focus on successful models, the Seal of Excellence will define pathways to better outcomes. Led by diverse stakeholders from across the industry (including Freedom From Hunger, CGAP, Deutsche Bank, Global Impact Investors Network [GIIN], SPTF, Dell Foundation, Kiva, and Grameen Foundation), the Seal will build a community of practice of pro-poor microfinance organizations, promote best practices and tools, and provide guidance as institutions attempt to improve their practices and move up through the levels of the Seal.
Reaching these goals will be a long-term commitment. The Seal’s community of practice will develop models that assure sustainability and long lasting changes in clients’ lives. The Seal highlights the potential of microfinance—and ultimately other interventions as well—to contribute to positive change by providing a reliable framework to evaluate MFIs. The Seal will play a critical role in providing rigorous, concrete evidence of those institutions, donors, investors, and others that are truly and successfully serving clients living in poverty.