Thursday, January 29, 2009

"Pro-poor product development"

A good question which came up at the Nigerian Microfinance Conference was, “How do we ensure our new products are pro-poor?” This is exactly where the nexus between integrated marketing and social performance management systems occur.

Market research for product development and research for social performance should answer the following questions:

1. What do the clients need the product/service for?
2. What do the clients actually use the product/service for?
3. What benefits do the clients get or perceive they get from the product/service?

In an integrated marketing program, that data will flow throughout the company – downward to loan officers so they can sell the benefits of the product and upward to management to market the products properly. In a social performance management system the same data will also flow up and down the MFI’s hierarchy, but it will be used to ensure that the product serves the MFI’s mission. I.e., management will take that data to check that the uses, needs and benefits fulfilled by the new product are having the desired impact and loan officers will report back on their observations in the field.

One set of data – two different uses. With such synergies, it would be foolish for MFIs with social performance management systems not to get “double use” out of their data through integrated marketing, and vice versa.


  1. Kirsten,
    I approached a similar question, though not from a marketing standpoint in a recent post (

  2. Ryan:
    Interesting stuff! Are you familiar with Harish Hande's company, SELCO? They're combining microfinance with providing sustainable technology to Indian villages. He's featured in UpSides magazine issue #7 (p 26), which you can download at:

    That particular issue of UpSides focuses on social impact.