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Findings from the Seal of Excellence Beta Tests

Re-posted from the Seal of Excellence website

The Pro-Poor Seal of Excellence recently concluded a beta testing phase with seven microfinance institutions representing a variety of regions, sizes, and legal forms. The following are the high level reflections from the tests, categorized by the linkages with the existing Social Rating tools, Indicators, and Recommendations.

Links with Social Ratings:

  • There exists good overlap between the Seal beta test methodology and a Social Rating.
  • The Seal requires more attention in the Social Rating to:
    • Client feedback mechanisms, results and data use; as well as
    • Methods to track progress, actual results and their use; and
    • Overall quality of client level data.
  • Compliance with all six sections of USSPM fully matches the Social Rating.
  • USSPM sections 3 (client protection) and 6 (balancing financial and social goals) match the Microfinance Institutional Rating (MIR: a rating product which includes additional considerations for client protection from a risk perspective).


  • The indicators for the Seal are coherent and reflect the dimensions well
    1. Purposeful Outreach to Poor People
    2. Products and Services that Meet the Needs of Poor People
    3. Tracking Progress of Poor People
  • Data on client level findings/results requires close examination of quality issues, from sampling, data collection, data checks, data entry to analysis and reporting.
  • The beta tests yielded a range of different methods for tracking progress – with varying results.
  • Gender analysis indicators seemed best to integrate within other dimensions, rather than as a stand-alone dimension.


  • Guidelines for quality issues need to be developed.
  • Disaggregation of data for poor(er) clients is rare: this is something that pro-poor microfinance needs to work on and promote.
  • The Seal needs a realistic perspective on expectations around outcomes, as well as practical methods to track outcomes.

Have thoughts based on these findings? Please comment on the Seal of Excellence Community of Practice.

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