Evaluating Leadership in the Microfinance Industry

In 2009, the microfinance industry faced dramatic leadership challenges due to rapid growth, commercialization, and difficulties in recruiting and retaining women staff. In response, Women’s World Banking established the Center for Microfinance Leadership to develop a diverse set of principled, visionary leaders and high-performing organizations for the industry. 

Between March 2010 and October 2012, Women’s World Banking and the MasterCard Foundation chose RCLA to conduct a three-year participatory evaluation of the Women’s World Banking (WWB)'s Center for Microfinance Leadership. 

The Program

As the field mastered the technicalities of lending, it became crucial to determine how to best support leadership, handle emergent crises, and promote growth while maintaining integrity, transparency, and accountability. Our evaluation engaged Center for Microfinance Leadership participants to illuminate the program’s impacts at the individual and organizational levels.

Main findings of this research include:

  • Identifying clear leverage points in the design of the Center’s leadership development programs for application across the microfinance industry.
  • Documenting the proven efficacy of working in teams. Particularly for organizations undertaking large-scale change efforts, having multiple staff members attend trainings increases the likelihood of success in implementing changes in their home organizations.