Oikocredit Live: how do digital surveys measure social impact?
In our first Oikocredit Live event, participants learned what Oikocredit and its partner organisations do to improve the effectiveness of social impact in the sector of microfinance. The Executive Director of Finca Perú, Iris Lanao, also shared insights into the work of the microfinance institution.
On 28 March 2023, the first edition of our new event series, called Oikocredit Live, took place. In the series investors and anyone interested in the work of Oikocredit receive insights into the work of our partner organisations in the Global South.
By setting different topics, we highlight the work Oikocredit does in support of its mission of empowering low-income people and communities to improve their livelihoods. Through Oikocredit Live, we offer a unique opportunity for investors and the public to hear directly from our partner organisations in the Global South, with the aim of creating a fruitful exchange.
The end-client survey: the heart of decision-making processes
Ruben Leon, Project Officer Social Impact at Oikocredit International, explained that the end-client survey is a tool to improve the effectiveness of social impact in microfinance.
By listening to the end-clients, Oikocredit gets a better understanding for their situation and needs. This enables the cooperative to put the perspectives of the clients of their partner organisations at the centre of the decision-making process and thereby define specific focus areas, for example.
Oikocredit's end-client survey is a unique instrument in the market of impact investing with over 16,000 participants from 12 countries and in 7 different languages. The survey was conducted in collaboration with 19 Oikocredit-partners to capture a wide range of clients and opinions.
This offers an insightful and personal perspective on clients' needs and challenges. It creates an opportunity that helps Oikocredit to act even more purposefully and effectively to create positive change.
The collaborative approach was a key element for Ruben. He says: “We didn’t analyse the data by ourselves. We analysed it together with our partners to make sure we consider the social and cultural contexts of each country in the evaluation and that the data can be properly interpreted."
“It’s important knowledge is transported both ways and we learn from each other.”
You can read the complete report of the end-client survey “From Outreach to Impact” here.
Learning from the voices of Finca Perú
Iris Lanao, Executive Director of Finca Perú, gave insight into the work of the microfinance institution, which was founded 30 years ago.
Finca Perú has a special focus on empowering women and offers comprehensive and innovative services to improve their quality of life and that of their families and communities. These include loans and group credits, micro-insurance, personal development programmes, health and mental well-being services, financial literacy training, business education and technical assistance.
Lanao also explained why there are more women in her client base answering the end-client survey than men. In rural areas, she said, it is now increasingly common for women to be family representatives in the village bank, taking out loans on accounts and acting as financial advisors to their families.
Finca Perú is committed to gender equality and seeks to provide women with access to education and information to further strengthen the role of women in communities.
The passion and dedication of Iris and her team at Finca Perú for empowering women and improving the quality of life in their communities was obvious.
Lanao emphasised the importance of the end-client survey to Finca Perú's work, saying,
"We are very grateful for the end-client survey because it helps us understand what our clients really need and how we can improve our work to meet their needs. And we are beyond grateful to Oikocredit. They always respect our knowledge; they listen to us. Let us continue on that path."
Oikocredit pushes boundaries with unique approach
Kawien Ziedses des Plantes, Sustainable Impact Manager at Oikocredit International, also stressed the importance of the end-client survey, explaining that Oikocredit wants to get to know the end-clients’ perspective on their lives.
Kawien emphasises, “We need to hear the voices of end-clients to understand what they require and how we can improve our work. It’s a valuable tool to improve social impact in microfinance and meet the needs of end-clients."
For Kawien, the biggest surprises of the end-client survey were the effects of weather extremes and their impact on families' incomes. This discovery served to reinforce the building of community resilience as an important focus for Oikocredit.
The discussions and presentations underlined the importance of putting the needs of end-clients at the centre of decision-making processes. Also highlighted was the need to consider gender aspects and the impact of climate change within the field of inclusive finance.
Watch the full panel discussion about the end-client survey as well as the work of Finca Perú:
Overall, the first Oikocredit Live event underlined that working in microfinance is more than just about money. It is about helping people and strengthening communities. The end-client survey is a valuable tool to achieve these goals. Thank you to all the attendees for their participation in our polls and quizzes and for their questions. We are especially grateful to our speakers from Finca Perú, Iris Lanao, and from Oikocredit International, Kawien Ziedses des Plantes and Ruben Leon.
Our next Oikocredit Live event will be in June. The event series will continue with a focus on climate change, including the opportunity to get insights into the work of one of our partners from the Global South. You will find the exact date and the possibility to register soon.
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