Services that Meet the Needs of Poor Clients

As pro-poor MFIs develop targeted approaches to serving the poor, Services that Meet the Needs of Poor Clients is the second of the three Pro-Poor Principles against which they can measure their performance. “Services” is perhaps an oversimplification as we include here products, delivery channels, and any other modifications that an MFI has implemented in favor of its poor clients. The indicators in this section of the Truelift Assessment focus on how well products and services meet the needs of people living in conditions of poverty. These services may or may not include non-financial services (NFS), but the MFI should have a strong theory of change for meeting the identified needs of its clients. A client centric approach to evaluate needs is a critical step to achieving success in this principle.

Services that meet the needs of poor clients can be quite varied. All aspects must be carefully considered from design and delivery, to achieved results, to adaptation in the face of client data. Other factors include diverse regional contexts and intended reach for services that meet the needs of the poor. These variations suggest that there is no “one right path” to providing services relevant to poor people everywhere. Mission and strategy for pro-poor services provide a good basis for practice. Measurement and data quality are essential parts to be certain information leads to decisions that favor poor clients. Reporting and use of information are other key areas to ensure that progress can be made through continual improvement.

Below are more specific explanations of the four dimensions and standards of Services that Meet the Needs of People Living in Poverty. You can view the specifics of all three Pro-Poor Principles in our Pro-Poor Principles chart here.


Essential Practices

Intent and Strategy Product/service design is informed by systems in place to continuously source insights about poor clients’ needs, constraints, and behaviors at entry and over time
Processes in place to recognize and support clients in vulnerable situations or suffering financial stress
Measurement, Data Quality, and Analysis Robust systems for quality assurance monitoring of services to poor clients and for client protection and retention, with special attention to client and field officer feedback and experience, generate good quality data with appropriate analysis
Results Achieved Evidence from poor clients’ use of products/services, their feedback and retention indicates products/services and protection are appropriate for poor clients and their households
Use of Findings Results are used to assess and improve quality of products and services and their delivery
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