Evaluating Efforts to Build and Sustain Principled Leadership in the Microfinance Industry

The microfinance industry is facing dramatic challenges that threaten the quality of leadership – from rapid growth, to an increase in commercialization that may jeopardize social missions, and difficulties in recruiting and retaining women staff members.

In 2009, Women’s World Banking established the Center for Microfinance Leadership to support the development of a diverse set of principled, visionary leaders and high-performing organizations for the industry.

The MasterCard Foundation and Women’s World Banking selected RCLA to conduct a three-year participatory evaluation of the Center. The evaluation has engaged Center participants in illuminating program impacts at the individual and organizational levels, and it identifies leverage points in the design of the Center’s leadership development programs for application across the microfinance industry.

For example, the evaluation has reaffirmed the efficacy of working teams. Particularly for organizations undertaking large-scale change efforts, having multiple staff members attend a training can increase the likelihood of success in implementing change in their home organizations.

In a field that has mastered the technicalities of lending, determining the best way to support leadership that can handle emergent crises and promote growth while maintaining integrity, transparency and accountability is crucial.