National PPI Peer Learning Networks: The Challenge >


Whenever I ask participants in a PPI training if they are interested in establishing a PPI peer learning network, everyone says yes. Then very few follow through.
The purpose of a peer learning network is to further develop MFIs’ understanding of the PPI through knowledge management and experience sharing. I have encouraged the establishment of PPI peer learning networks in three countries:

- Cambodia
- Pakistan
- Bangladesh

Mostly the networks consist of those who participated in the PPI Training of Trainers (ToT) workshops organized by Plan as well as those who have attended any other PPI-related activities and shown interest in joining the learning networks. For Cambodia, a Google group platform is used as the medium; for Pakistan and Bangladesh, a Yahoo group platform is used. In my opinion, the Pakistan PPI Peer Learning Network is the best case.

The Pakistan PPI Peer Learning Network was established with the consent of all PPI ToT participants in March. The network started with a very loose structure; for example, no coordinator was elected among the members, there was no action plan of the network, etc. When we reviewed the performance of the network in June, the members found that it did not meet their expectations. I shared the idea of electing a member as network coordinator (one willing to work without any financial or non-financial incentives) and to introduce some structure to the network. I suggested that, in order to strengthen the ownership of the PPI among its users, the network coordinator should be someone from an MFI. Rahmat Ullah from Akhuwat volunteered to take on the coordinator role with the full consent of all members. Akhuwat also cited the need for a refresher training on the PPI Intake Tool (a PPI data management system developed by Grameen Foundation). Rafia Naqvi rom Asasah agreed to provide the refresher training on the intake tool for Akhuwat.

The key task of the coordinator is to increase the mutual engagement of members. Mr. Rahmat, a man with a lot of energy, quickly initiated activities to get members more engaged. Most interesting was the identification of ten advantages that using the PPI gave to MFIs. The members’ engagement and contributions clearly grew after Mr. Rahmat took up the coordination role.

At that point, I realized that some formalization of the network had resulted in strengthening it. So during the 2nd Phase PPI planning meeting in September, I suggested that the network could come up with a realistic annual action plan. We all agreed to identify three key activities to be accomplished as part of action plan i.e. 1) Translate the PPI into Urdu (national language) so that all MFIs can use one single PPI; 2) Develop a PPI instructional manual in Urdu to be used by data collectors; 3) Have each MFI share a brief, quarterly progress report on PPI implementation, which will be consolidated into a single report.

So far the network has successfully translated the PPI into Urdu, thanks to Aziz Rehman from Plan Chakwal. An instruction manual has been developed and shared with the network, thanks to Asad Ullah Rashid from Akhuwat. I am anxiously awaiting the quarterly progress report.
The takeaway here is that a structured network can work better than a loose network. I will continue to follow the progress of the Pakistan PPI Peer Learning Network in order to share future learnings.

Muhammad Awais is a guest blogger on the Progress Out of Poverty blog. As the Regional Microfinance Advisor for Plan International in Asia, Awais focuses on helping integrate social performance metrics into Plan International’s work. He brings a great perspective from the MFI practitioner as well as from the network level of how to integrate SPM tools like the PPI into operations. He is based in Bangkok.