Truelift has recognized the pro-poor performance of AMK Microfinance Institution Plc. at the Leader Milestone. This brings to 33 the number of financial service providers recognized along the Truelift Pro-Poor Pathway and to seven the number recognized at the Leader Milestone, the most advanced of the four Milestones. What unites all the recognized institutions is their commitment to serving the needs of people living in poverty. Their degree of adherence to the three Pro-Poor Principles shows how far they have progressed along the pathway toward fully pro-poor management of their institutions.
AMK started as a program of Concern Worldwide in the 1990s. As operations grew, Concern decided in 2002 to create a separate microfinance company, which became known as AMK. By 2003, AMK was functioning independently of Concern and received its banking license from the National Bank of Cambodia in 2004. AMK was granted a deposit license in 2010, launched its nationwide money transfer service in 2011 and ATM/CDM services in 2013. AMK provides group (village bank) and individual loans, deposit services, money transfers, health micro-insurance, payment and payroll services, foreign exchange, and international remittance services, employing over 2,700 staff serving in 150 offices and working with more than 3,700 independent agents nationwide. The total number of clients exceeds 840,000 with a loan portfolio of over US$ 247 million and deposits of more than US$ 146 million. AMK is therefore one of the leading microfinance institutions in Cambodia.
For more than 15 years, AMK has continuously developed and grown by focusing on the development of its financial products and services and investing in new technologies in order to meet customer demand. At the same time, AMK has remained true to its social objectives, especially poverty alleviation, as demonstrated by the results of the Truelift assessment conducted in November 2018 by M-CRIL. Through delivery of appropriate and viable microfinance services over the past 15 years, AMK has helped clients and their families, especially those living in remote areas, achieve significant positive changes.
Several certification initiatives have arisen independently in response to lack of transparency and accountability regarding the social purpose of microfinance. The Smart Campaign attempts to identify providers that “do no harm” to clients by complying with the Client Protection Principles (CPP); even providers with no social objectives are included. For those with social objectives, the Social Performance Task Force has developed the Universal Standards for Social Performance Management (USSPM) without being specific about the social objectives of the provider. Social rating agencies offer assessments that can certify compliance with the CPP and the USSPM. But such compliance certification does not address how well the provider is achieving its chosen social objective. There are many social objectives to choose from, and some providers pursue more than one at a time. Truelift responds to the most common objective, poverty alleviation. A Truelift assessment is a logical extension of a social rating of compliance with the CPP and the USSPM by a provider focusing on poverty alleviation. Recently, these various global initiatives have been brought together by CERISE on the social performance assessment platform SPI4. Truelift is the poverty “module” of SPI4 along with modules for other specific social objectives. These modules can be used for institutional self-assessment or by rating agencies for external assessment of an institution.
In concept and structure, the Truelift Pro-Poor Principles and the assessment process are relevant and applicable to any poverty-focused (“pro-poor”) social business or service agency, whether private or public. For additional information, please contact the co-chairs of Truelift’s Steering Committee, Chris Dunford at christopher.j.dunford at gmail.com (English and French) or Carmen Velasco at carmenvelascolmk at gmail.com (Spanish and English).