Paper

Client Protection in Middle East and North Africa

Regional implications of the Smart Campaign

To encourage microfinance institutions (MFIs) in MENA to pursue the Smart Certification, the International Finance Corporation (IFC) has offered technical assistance to aid its partner MFIs in meeting the Smart Campaign’s criteria. Building on this experience, it is important to open a discussion on the capacity of globally set standards to match the local landscape. While many players in MENA are looking to improve access to finance, it is interesting to observe how local peculiarities interact with global ideals of responsible finance, given the different regulatory environments and cultural backdrop.

This study aims to reflect on IFC’s experience in providing technical assistance to MFIs in the region looking to meet the campaign’s criteria for client protection. While the campaign’s indicators are global ideals, they would generally prove highly beneficial to the microfinance sector at large. However, IFC has noted some factors, both external and internal, that need to be resolved to improve the adoption of the client protection principles in MENA.