History of the Social Performance Indicators
In 2009, MIX started to collect a pilot set of 22 social performance indicators selected by the SPTF designed to assess how an MFI aligns its systems to its mission and how it uses social performance data to reach its goals. All indicators were selected following four criteria:
- relevant to the microfinance industry specifically;
- easy for an MFI to collect data on;
- easy to be verified by third party;
- publishable – MFIs were willing to have data published on MIX Market.
Since then, over 400 MFIs have submitted social performance indicators to MIX. At the same time, feedback from use of the pilot indicators indicated the need to update these indicators. MFIs were asking for list of indicators, to ease the burden of completing the report, while data analysis revealed the following weaknesses in some of the indicators:
- they had an ill-defined standard of success (e.g., documentation of board procedures), making comparisons across MFIs difficult;
- they focused on internal policies not clearly linked to goals and outcomes;
- they were designed as qualitative indicators but could have been measured quantitatively;
- they were inherently difficult to validate (e.g. children at school).
In response, the Social Indicators Working Group of the Social Performance Task Force (SPTF) led by MIX began a process of refining the social performance indicators. The Working Groups solicited and received feedback from a wide group of industry stakeholders throughout the process. Ultimately, the working group determined that, while all of the pilot indicators were relevant for an MFI to track and use in social performance management (SPM) decisions, not all were appropriate for inclusion in a set of standardized social performance indicators.