Truelift is excited to welcome KMF in Kazakhstan as a Truelift Aspirant. KMF is the first in the Eastern Europe and Central Asia (EECA) region to attain Truelift Milestone international recognition. KMF was the winner of our first-ever contest for pro-poor microfinance practitioners. The contest, offered in partnership with Microfinance Centre (MFC), was done in anticipation of this year’s MFC annual conference in Istanbul, Turkey. We extend our hearty congratulations to KMF!
As a Truelift Aspirant, KMF has taken the first steps in the process toward achieving the next recognition milestone as an institution dedicated to improving the lives of vulnerable clients. We support KMF in its efforts along the way, and encourage other poverty-focused institutions to undertake this important journey.
KMF earned recognition at the Truelift Aspirant Milestone by being the first in the EECA region to complete the Indicators Tool, a self-assessment that measures an institution’s actions as well as its results in outreach, service quality and tracking the progress of poor clients. KMF assigned two people to complete the tool, a Social Performance Management Specialist and a Manager from the Marketing and Social Performance team, who reviewed the Guidelines Website before filling in the tool. The team reported no difficulty in completing the tool due to their prior experience completing the CERISE SPI. Because KMF’s database and reports contain all the information required, there was no need to conduct supplementary staff surveys. The team stated that each of the Pro-Poor Principle sections took the same amount of time to complete. Truelift was pleased to see that KMF went above and beyond the requirements for the self-assessment by submitting an annex of seven documents to provide evidence of meeting certain indicators.
The total time spent to complete the self-assessment by the two staff assigned was approximately 5 hours.
From its beginnings in 1997 as a USAID project to provide credit to urban entrepreneurs, KMF has grown, currently serving 111, 611 active clients in both rural and urban areas of the Republic of Kazakhstan. The government of Kazakhstan in 2013 recognized KMF for its significant contribution to the national currency of the country and to the microfinance sector. Remaining committed to client protection as it progressed over the years, KMF is a 2010 recipient of a Microfinance Centre/Smart Campaign award for its efforts to prevent client over-indebtedness and ethical staff behavior.
KMF is currently undergoing Smart Certification, and follows principles of social responsibility toward its personnel including non-discrimination and professional development. Its principles for social responsibility toward the environment require an evaluation of the environmental impact of potential clients’ businesses prior to funding loans, and prohibit certain environmentally damaging business activities.
Active in the community, KMF supports sports activities for children and youth, promoting football and sponsoring a freestyle wrestling tournament. KMF also supports projects for disadvantaged children, children with disabilities, boarding schools, regional conferences for women entrepreneurs, the annual celebration of the festival, “Language – the unity of the people” – in honor of different languages and cultures of the people of Kazakhstan, and an annual commemoration of war veterans.
KMF has been tracking the progress of poor clients since 2011 and will soon have the three-year results. For measurement, they use a poverty index that changes from year to year and is based on the food-basket poverty lines set by the government (there is no PPI for Kazakhstan). KMF looks at multiple levels of poverty including Absolute Poverty, which is defined by the government as below 40% from the cost of living. As part of their strategic plan, KMF opened up 11 new branches in 2013 in rural and urban areas, and has seen an increase in nearly 10% in outreach to new clients below the Absolute Poverty and Relative Poverty lines since 2011. In rural regions where the poorest are located, KMF has targeted poor clients by adjusting their products to be more convenient, for example, through lending to groups made up of just two or more clients.
Client financial education is provided in cooperation with KMF’s parent company KMF-Demeu. The two companies collaborated to conduct a needs analysis, spending a month with clients to find out what they need and want to learn. They then designed the curriculum accordingly. The collaboration has resulted in a training book for trainers that uses easily understood financial language and examples from real life. The book covers ten classes or lessons, and rural clients are invited to take the classes at the rural branches. So far 20% of KMF’s clients have received financial education. The free classes have also been well-attended by non-clients, who are welcome to participate.
THE PRO-POOR PATHWAY
Truelift continues to work with KMF to further complement their self-assessment, learn more about their good practices, and help them as they continue on the pro-poor pathway to better serve clients living in conditions of poverty. We encourage any institution who is interested in depth of outreach and measuring the progress of their clients to submit their own self-assessment tool, which can be downloaded here.
Congratulations to KMF on being a pro-poor pioneer and the first Truelift Milestone Institution in the EECA region!
This blog was contributed by Valerie Artese, Truelift Volunteer. Valerie is committed to ensuring fair and reliable access to financial services for people living in poverty. With an academic background in microfinance from Spain, she has worked in community-led programs in Southeast Asia and USA. She lives in San Francisco.