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«Background The SmartAid Index measures and rates the way funders with an interest in microfinance work. Heads of 29 major development institutions ...»

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SmartAid Index 2013 5 Knowledge Management (4.0/5.0). UNCDF has  Good Practice Highlight systematically put emphasis on knowledge management which has been included in all FIPA Facilitating Knowledge Sharing job descriptions since 2011, and has recently put in place a knowledge management policy. The annual FIPA retreats, which bring together technical staff retreat provides opportunities for knowledge staff from around the world, include both sharing amongst staff. (See Good Practices training and knowledge management modules. Lessons learned are shared across Highlight.) The intranet and frequent calls also facilitate knowledge exchange and communication regions and thematic areas, strengthening a between countries and headquarter staff. UNCDF common ground among staff on vision and uses tools such as Teamworks and Dropbox to approach and contributing to more effective share information with external partners. management of the complexity of the Teamworks is a web-based collaborative platform, country/global themes matrix. In 2011, all staff which facilitates knowledge sharing for projects were trained in MIX GOLD analytics during the that have many external partners. Several FIPA annual retreat. In 2012, a day was devoted to projects also have knowledge management the theme of mobile money. Outside speakers components, with the preparation of knowledge are included to address timely topics. All FIPA products as a key result. The eventual adoption of staff are required to attend, providing the Celoxisis is expected to enhance coordination opportunity for the intense sharing of amongst staff, and improve time management and experiences throughout FIPA.

planning between thematic and regional programs.

Nonetheless, UNCDF should take steps to harmonize its knowledge management tools. The use of knowledge maps and the recruitment of a knowledge management expert are steps in the right direction. Implementing the knowledge management policy, including more attention to thematic areas and developing a procedures manual are expected to strengthen UNCDF’s knowledge management function.

Appropriate instruments (4.0/5.0). UNCDF’s flexible grant instrument puts it in a unique position to  support the building of inclusive financial sectors. UNCDF also has access to loan instruments and guarantees, allowing it to tailor its support to partners based on market needs and the availability of financing locally. The MAP diagnostic tool is expected to further enhance UNCDF’s ability to measure additionality and better inform the type of instruments UNCDF uses at the country level. In addition, UNCDF responds rapidly to concerns raised by reviews and analysis to investigate concerns about maintaining the right mix of flexible instruments that attract --and not crowd out commercial investors.

The MicroLead Expansion Programme analysis is an example of this. UNCDF has shown capacity to be especially sensitive to the fact that concessionally-priced debt may crowd out commercial investors.

However, its grant funding for mature institutions that are able to raise capital elsewhere raises concerns.

Recommendations Over the years, UNCDF has established a solid base of good practice, whose oversight and execution lie with seasoned and competent professionals. Many of its strengths are reference points for peer institutions: its flagging system, the use of MIX GOLD Premium for tracking performance, and its flexible use SmartAid Index 2013 6 of grants. UNCDF has continued to work to break new ground, venturing into timely global thematic areas and developing and piloting MAP to support national level stakeholders to meet the challenge of better evidence-based policy making. UNCDF’s strengths and comparative advantages allow it to act as a facilitator on behalf of larger donors (such as foundations) making small grants to help catalyze markets and to offer its infrastructure to other funders who are not as well positioned to facilitate at the local market level. Global thematic programs represent an untapped opportunity to strengthen UNCDF’s work further.

Knowledge exchange and transfer from the global learning from these programs enhance UNCDF’s country level operations, and could potentially serve this function at the global level for any stakeholder. These new global programmes, while timely and innovative, do risk diluting UNCDF’s capacity and undermining its strategy. Care must be taken to ensure that the organization balances growth of global programs with its ability to manage and support an increasingly complex matrix structure.

The following suggestions emerge from the SmartAid review:

Balance growth of global thematic programs with country-level operations. The dual programming  model of global thematic programs and country level programs is extremely powerful, as it allows for access to global learning with on the ground tools to deliver at the country level. However, the number of countries in which UNCDF operates and the range of thematic initiatives heighten the complexities of ensuring coherence. UNCDF should carefully analyze its growth, taking into account the capacity, in particular that of Country Technical Advisors, who have double reporting and coordination roles.

UNCDF should analyze its existing reporting and operational incentives to ensure that CTAs are not overstretched and to improve alignment of global and country operations.





Grants should rarely, if ever, be used for refinancing loan portfolios. Grant resources are extremely  precious and should be used diligently to ensure they are not distorting incentives, but rather support market building initiatives that cannot be financed any other way. Even in LDCs, DFIs and other investors increasingly have capital to lend to Greenfield institutions or existing MFIs. In light of these developments and the large number of private and public investors, the use of grants should be limited to capacity building with only exceptional use for refinancing. In this regard, UNCDF should consider 1) putting in place a mechanism at the project identification stage that captures data on grants that are intended to finance loan portfolios, and, 2) require a more thorough analysis for any grant that appears to support refinancing portfolios.

Improve knowledge generation and dissemination from the global thematic initiatives. Several of  UNCDF’s global thematic programs have been operational for many years and have a plethora of experience which should be better exploited and leveraged. YouthStart has already begun to share its learning globally through a web-based platform and community of practice and this type of knowledge exchange should be extended to all of UNCDF’s global initiatives. Case studies, research, social media, and webinars are just a few of the potential platforms that UNCDF should consider as it extends the knowledge it is generating to both its own country programs as well as the industry at large.

Strengthen internal quality assurance and learning from internal reviews. UNCDF shows positive  trends in this direction. As UNCDF’s programming has become more complex, quality assurance functions need to be continually monitored to prevent deterioration. Growth presents new SmartAid Index 2013 7 opportunities and new challenges. Continue to align the quality assurance and learning functions with the growth of the organization. The recent introduction of an internal portfolio review, with all Country Technical Advisors and Regional Technical Advisors scoring their projects, is a step in this direction.

Given the significant investment made in the recent external review, build on this experience to develop an internal process that helps to capture trends and lessons early in the learning process. An internal review process should also be accompanied by a refresh of roles and responsibilities for quality assurance, which should be overseen at high levels to ensure that growth continues to be commensurate with quality.

SmartAid Index 2013 8 Methodology SmartAid distills learning from over eleven years of aid effectiveness work undertaken by CGAP with its members. The indicators draw on the consensus Good Practice Guidelines for Funders of Microfinance and a body of knowledge developed through peer reviews, country reviews, and portfolio reviews. Aid effectiveness experts from the Center for Global Development and OECD’s Development Assistance Committee contributed crucial advice.

The nine indicators used in the SmartAid Index were selected and refined over the course of a pilot round in 2007, an external evaluation, consultation with experts and the first round of the Index in 2009. For the 2011 round two of the indicators were further refined to remove redundancy, however the indicators remain consistent in nature and scores are comparable across the 2009-2013 rounds. The scores of the 2007 pilot round are not comparable.

The nine indicators are worth between 10 and 15 points each, for a total maximum of 100 points (see table).

Different weights are assigned to indicators, giving more prominence to those that make a greater difference in a funders’ work in microfinance. Accountability for results is a powerful element and accounts for 40 percent of the score. As the wise dictum goes, what cannot be measured cannot be managed.

The Index is based on self-reported documentation from participating funders, following instructions in the SmartAid Submission Guide. Scores are determined by a review board of four microfinance specialists with broad experience with a range of funders. Each review board member independently scores all funders against all indicators; final scores are agreed upon after discussion among reviewers. For each indicator, funders receive a score on a 0-5 scale (5 being the highest score). These scores are then multiplied by a factor of two or three to arrive at the 100 point scale. Medians as well as minimum and maximum scores shown in the graph in the Key Findings section represent the scores of all participants of the 2009-2013 SmartAid rounds. For agencies participating in more than one round, only their latest score is included in the medians.

Naturally, a margin of error is unavoidable in this type of exercise. Funders should not give undue attention to differences of one or two points. The most strong and meaningful messages lie in where a funder performs along the range of scores for each indicator as well as whether its overall performance lies in the “very good,” “good,” “partially adequate,” “weak,” or “inadequate,” range.

–  –  –

About CGAP CGAP is an independent policy and research center dedicated to advancing financial access for the world’s poor. It is supported by over 30 development agencies and private foundations who share a common mission to alleviate poverty. Housed at the World Bank, CGAP provides market intelligence, promotes standards, develops innovative solutions, and offers advisory services to governments, microfinance providers, donors, and investors.

Funders participating in SmartAid to date Agencia Española de CooperaciónInternacionalpara el Desarrollo (AECID), AgenceFrançaise de Développement (AFD), AFD/Proparco, African Development Bank (AfDB), Asian Development Bank (AsDB), Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID), Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), European Commission (EC), European Investment Fund (EIF), European Investment Bank (EIB), FMO, Deutsche GesellschaftfürInternationaleZusammenarbeit (GIZ), International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), KfW Entwicklungsbank (KfW), International Finance Corporation (IFC), International Labour Organization (ILO), Multilateral Investment Fund (MIF), Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida), Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) Authors Mayada El-Zoghbi with important contributions from Review Board Members Alice Nègre, Heather Clark, Kathryn Imboden and Klaus Maurer.

CGAP 1818 H Street, NW, MSN P3-300, Washington, DC 20433 USA 66, avenue d’Iéna, 75116 Paris, France www.cgap.org

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