Social finance


With an emphasis on social justice, the ILO's Social Finance Programme supports efforts to extend financial services to excluded persons by addressing two main goals:
  1. The promotion of better employment; and
  2. A reduction in the vulnerability of the working poor.
The pursuit of better employment means creating jobs and improving the quality of employment through innovative financial services and conducive policies. The reduction of vulnerability can be achieved by improving access to appropriate risk managing financial services, including microinsurance.
Poverty  anywhere  is  a  threat  to  prosperity  everywhere"
ILO Declaration of Philadelphia, 1944

What's New

  1. A series of Working Papers on Microfinance for Decent Work are released….


    With the generous support from the German Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs, the ILO conducted from 2008 to 2012 an action research programme to assess if MFIs could use their relationship with entrepreneurs to target decent work deficits and improve the plight of workers in the informal economy.
    Microfinance Institutions (MFIs) are a potential conduit for such improvements. In many emerging markets, they have significant outreach, providing financial services to thousands of small and micro enterprises.
    The impact studies present the results of the interventions of our MFI- partners, that could enhance business objectives which would be of interest even to MFIs without a social agenda.
    Interested to learn in detail? Click here

  2. Microcredit and support to enteprise creation in France: what is the situation of the entrepreneurs 3 years after
    18 June 2014


    On 18 June 2014, the ILO, together with France Stratégie and the Caisse des Dépôts et Consignations, launched the results of a survey conducted in 2013 with 4 204 beneficiaries of microcredit in France. Professional microcredit and support services is a tool to help potential or existing entrepreneurs that are unemployed or/and excluded from tradictional banking system. The survey was conducted with beneficiairies three years after they received support from one of the five nationwide microcredit networks in France - l’Association pour le développement et l’initiative économique (ADIE), les Boutiques de gestion (BGE), France Active, Initiative France et Réseau Entreprendre. Results show that survival rate of the enteprise is high, with sustainable integration of the beneficiaires on the labour market.

    For more information see the project The Social Impact of Microcredit in the European Context

  3. Can financial institutions be drivers of formalization of enterprises?

    In India, the innovation of a microfinance institution lead to a 70% increase in formalisation status of the clients- beneficiaries of the project

    Do you want to know more? Come and join us

    The ILO Enterprises Meeting Room - 11th Floor
    June 16th,10.30 am to 11.30 am


    Mr George Thomas, the Executive Director of Evangelical Social Action Forum (ESAF) Micro Finance & Investments Pvt. Ltd will share the results of the impact assessment of the "Shram Jyoti" project implemented by ESAF together with the ILO in the framework of the Action research on Microfinance for decent work.

    The presentation, followed by Q&A , of the results of this project, gives evidence on the role that microfinance institutions can play in promoting formalization amongst microenterprise clients.

    The ESAF, through its Microfinance and Investments (P) Ltd (EMFIL) of India participated in theILO’s Microfinance for Decent Work (MF4DW): Action Research project from 2008-2012. As part of this experimental research, ESAF launched and tested business development services and awareness raising activities on the benefits of formalisation for their members entrepreneurs in order to see if there was a positive impact of formalisation on the economic and social performances of clients and their enterprises, using a target versus control group methodology. Econometric analysis of the panel dataset collected from control and target groups at four equally spaced intervals show that ESAF’s innovation can be linked to increase in the formalisation status and awareness about its benefits, as well as improved business practices regarding accounting, expansion plans, marketing in particular. However, the effects of the innovation were limited or inexistent on employment outcomes, repayment capacity, and repayment difficulties.

  4. 11th EMN Annual Conference
    “Employment – Challenges and Opportunities for Microfinance”

    Lisbon, Portugal
    19 to 20 June 2014

    In the framework of the French project "L'inclusion financière - Promouvoir des innovations financières avec un impact social", ILO-SFP grants a sponsorship to the European Microfinance Network, Brussels, Belgium, for the organization of their annual conference 2014. Their main theme of the conference would be "Employment Challenges and Opportunities for Microfinance".

    The Social Finance Program will actively participate in the discussion on microfinance and employment, and taking part in the Award Committee for the selection of the 2014 winner of the Giordano Dell' Amore Microfinance Good Practices Award promoted by the Fondazione giordano Dell' Amore (FGDA) together with the European Microfinance Network(EMN)

  5. 29th Development Conference held by the "Association Tiers Monde''

    University of Paris Est Créteil, Paris, France - 6-8 June 2013

    The theme of this edition is ''Informal economy and development: employment, financing and regulation in a context of crisis''It is a relevant platform for the Social Finance Programme to share some of the results of the Microfinance for Decent Work Action Research mainly the productivity and occupational safety and health cluster.

  6. Third European Research Conference on Microfinance

    University of Agder, Kristiansand, Norway - 10-12 June 2013

    Together with the research partner, University of Mannheim and two MFI representatives, NWTF and NRSP, the Social Finance Programme is going to present results of the Microfinance for Decent Work action research at the Conference. The conference will bring together more than 200 researchers from around the world making the conference the largest research event on microfinance ever!

  7. Joint CAS ILO Working Paper - Professional microcredit in France: what effect on employment?

    This Working Paper is the result of an ILO-CAS partnership to assess qualitative and societal aspects relating to the impact of professional microcredit. It formulates recommendations for a better assessment of the results of professional microcredit on employment in France.

  8. ILO's Microinsurance Innovation Facility Annual Report 2013

    March 2013

    Microinsurance is coming of age. The million dollar question microinsurers, regulators, and governments continue to grapple with is: Can microinsurance be viable and provide client value? The evidence presented in the report indicates: Yes it can.

    The Annual Report 2013 features the results of the ILO's Microinsurance Innovation Facility during the past 6 years. It also outlines the Facility’s new 5-year (2014-2018) Quality at Scale programme that aims to reduce the vulnerability of an additional 100 million low-income persons.