10th Anniversary


Laura Foose

When we founded the Social Performance Task Force in 2005, we had a simple goal—not easy, but simple. We wanted microfinance to apply the same rigor to both sides of its “double bottom line.”

Microfinance claimed to have a financial bottom line and a social bottom line, but it only measured one of them consistently. And as the saying goes, what matters gets measured. So a broad-based group—donors, providers, networks, rating agencies, and more—came together to form the Task Force. We wanted to develop a set of standards that would be to social performance what Generally Accepted Accounting Principles, or the International Financial Reporting Standards, are to financial performance: universally accepted, comparable, meaningful, and clear. This work was not imposed by any single entity. It was not a damage control response to crises: crucially, as it would turn out for the work’s credibility, the effort was already well underway before the controversial IPOs of the mid-2000s or the client over-indebtedness in South Asia in 2010.

Instead, the Task Force was a group of stakeholders determined to see that microfinance walked the talk, and prepared to do the hard work to help make that happen. Because we knew the work would be hard, we did not put a clock on it. We encouraged every stakeholder, in every country, to join the effort and lend a voice. It took years of painstaking and protracted collaboration.

But in 2012, the Social Performance Task Force released the Universal Standards for Social Performance Management. Incredible as it seems 10 years have already gone by.

In the past decade, the Universal Standards have helped transform the landscape. They have been put into practice by financial service providers whose accumulated loan portfolio represents about $40 billion and 62 million borrowers from 99 different countries. They have had market-systems impact, as countries such as Philippines use the Universal Standards as the reference point for the regulatory regime overseeing microfinance. And beyond our industry, the Universal Standards provide valuable lessons learned. As other sectors struggle with defining and measuring non-financial standards, our experience shows what is possible when tenacious people commit themselves to the task.

The Social Performance Task Force will be writing and reflecting on the lessons learned from the first 10 years of the Universal Standards. We will also be hearing from members sharing their own thoughts. Please enjoy and share the videos on this page, and be inspired by their messages.

And send us a message of your own! It does not need to be fancy—just hit the “record” button on your phone or laptop and say a few words about how the Universal Standards have shaped your work. We’ll compile them by the end of 2022, and maybe have a few surprises along the way, too.

On behalf of all of us on the board and staff: thanks for an incredible 10 years, and here’s to the next decade.


“It’s a lot of work to define common standards, but now we have something that everyone really trusts.”
Play Video
Andrée Simon

Global CEO, FINCA Impact Finance
on SPTF’s work to develop the Universal Standards

Part 1

“C’est quelque chose que je n’aurais jamais cru possible.”
Play Video
Andrée Simon

Global CEO, FINCA Impact Finance
sur les travaux de la SPTF dans le développement des Normes Universelles


“It’s a matter of having the right mindset . . . our main job is to develop our customers.”
Play Video
Edgardo Pérez Preciado

General Manager. Fundación Génesis Empresarial
Member, SPTF Board of Directors

Part 3

“The law is a teacher. Changing an industry’s law changes its culture.”
Play Video
Allan Robert Sicat

Executive Director

Microfinance Council of the Philippines, Inc. (MCPI)

Part 4

“A few years ago, they were able to reduce their interest rates to balance financial and social performance.”
Play Video
Allan Robert Sicat

Executive Director
Microfinance Council of the Philippines, Inc. (MCPI) 

A before-and-after example from the Philippines of social performance management in action.

Part 5

“The Universal Standards are a practical translation of the theory of change [that] make it more likely you achieve your social mission.”
Play Video
Lone Søndergaard

Senior Investment Manager
Nordic Microfinance Initiative

Part 6

Ce que nous avons fait rapidement et obtenu également cette adhésion assez rapidement parce que nous avons vraiment présenté l’ensemble des Normes et tous les avantages auxquels notre institution pouvait recourir.
Play Video
DJATTY Maurella Nadège,

Directrice Générale Adjointe



Part 7

Au départ, nos idées étaient floues. Mais avec l’avènement des Normes Universelles, nous avons eu la totalité des actions à mener pour pouvoir atteindre notre objectif du départ.
Play Video
KOFFI A. Mélanie épouse BOSSON,

Directrice Générale



Part 8

Et cette réflexion m’a fait un déclic dans la tête où je me suis dit comment une évaluation que nous venons de faire – cette observation en matière de pratique de recouvrement, peut faire changer la perspective d’un dirigeant d’une institution.
Play Video
KOFFI Arsène

Responsable des Programmes

l’Association Professionnelle des Systèmes

Financiers Décentralisés de Côte d’Ivoire (APSFD-CI)


Part 9

Toutes les Normes apprises lors de cette rencontre sont d’une utilité, mais moi j’ai décidé maintenant de démarrer avec la Norme, la Dimension 5, qui est relative au traitement responsable des employés.
Play Video
KOFFI AMA E. Franceline

Directeur Général

Groupe d’Epargne et de Soutien en Côte d’Ivoire (GES-CI)


Part 10