Social Performance in Credit Union of The Gambia

Social Performance means the effective realization of an institution social mission in to practice or reality. There are some common social missions in Micro-financeinstitutions such as Serving increasing numbers of poorer and more excluded people sustainably, Improving the quality & appropriateness of financial services through assessment of members’ needs, the realization of such social missions given the meaning of social performance.

Many investors in micro-finance are interested in contributing to objectives such as reducing poverty. The Social Performance Management approach seeks to balance the needs of various stakeholders, including the external need to demonstrate impact and a member internal need to improve practices. Financial portfolio data alone are not sufficient to allow managers to make operational and strategic decisions or to permit donors to assess the social value of investment choices.

Social Performance Management can be simple and cost effective, helping Credit Union to serve their members more effectively, improve overall operational performance and report to external stakeholders. SPM focuses on gathering information that allows Credit Unions to understand their members more closely and to improve the appropriateness and effectiveness of the financial services. SPM fits well in the shift in emphasis from ‘supply-led’ to ‘demand-led’ micro-finance. As the question “what and who  are Credit Unions” becomes a norm in the country, there has been a growing awareness that Credit Unions  needs to be more responsive to members, identify the types of members reached and understand how Credit Unions respond to needs and constraints of their members.

In 2013 the National Association of Cooperative Credit Unions of the Gambia (NACCUG) was one of the beneficiaries of West Africa Credit Union Project Against Poverty WACUPP funded by African Caribbean and Pacific(ACP)/EU Micro-finance, identified to participate in the Social Performance Management process which included activities such as training on SPM and assessment of SPM with 13 piloting CUs across the country   using the ILCUFoundation Social Performance Assessment tool and poverty assessment of  a one  hundred members using the PPI tool develop for the Gambia. Social Performance has being a new concept introduced in the Gambian Credit Union movement, with the hope of improving the positive impact of their services to the lives of the members.

Recently, NACCUG in partnership with ILCUFoundation are implementing a three year project which is funded by Irish Aid called “improving access to pro-poor financial services in Sierra Leon and Gambia”. One of the key components embedded in the project is Social Performance Management.

With Training and advocacy, the Apex body of Credit Unions (NACCUG) in the Gambia seeks to find ways and means to reduce poverty in the this quest the National Association of Cooperative Credit Unions of The Gambia deep it necessary to introduce Social Performance Management in the operations of the Credit Unions.

SPM builds on this member-focused approach, providing CUs with skills and tool for responding to the developmental needs of members by clearly defining the social goals and managing the progress towards these goals. This is beneficial to Credit Unions because Social performance information helps Credit Unions understand members’ needs and develop more appropriate and effective services. The development of simple, routine and self-directed methods of assessing social performance by Credit Unions themselves offers a way forward.

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