Social Audit Standard (SAS) 1300
Promotion of financial inclusion
(SAS 1300 should be read in conjunction with “Preface to the Social Audit Standards” and “Framework for
the Social Audit Standards”, issued by the ICAI)


Objective and Scope

1.10 This Social Audit Standard relates to the thematic area of “Promotion of financial inclusion”. The Standard aims to provide the Social Auditor with the necessary guidance in relation to independent impact assessment engagement of Social Enterprises engaged in promotion of financial inclusion to make financial services available, accessible, and affordable to all the citizens in a safe and transparent manner and to support inclusive and resilient multi-stakeholder led growth, and the audit steps and procedures that should be applied while conducting the social impact assessment. The Standard sets out the minimum requirements to be followed while conducting impact assessment. Laws or regulations may establish additional requirements which should be followed as applicable.


Data Collection

1.20 The stakeholders that may be approached for obtaining data include:

> Direct beneficiaries

> Immediate family members of the direct beneficiaries

> Management personnel of banking and financial institutions providing services

> Trainers imparting knowledge/ training/ awareness

> Funding entities, Government and related institutions

> Monitoring Agency

> Key program officials of the entity, etc.

  • The sample chosen for conducting survey by way of Questionnaires, In-depth Interview, Focussed Group Discussions shall be fairly representative of the diverse target communities and geographies, in order to cover a wide range of the stakeholders involved and give due representation to each category. Each such category should be analysed to assess the percentage composition represented by it.
  • The assessment rate or the response rate is the number of actual responses received against the targeted number of respondents in the survey. A high assessment rate shall provide reasonable assurance that most of the targeted respondents have been largely covered under the survey and that the sample responses considered for the study are fairly representative. Identify the reasons for the gap between respondents contacted and responses received. Such gaps may be due to the candidates not being reachable, or the candidates having migrated to another place or due to incorrect contact details in the database.
  • The overall activity of conducting survey and collecting sample data should be reviewed in terms of the following factors to assess relevance and reliability:
    • designed by in-house team or external specialized agency
    • conducted by in-house team or external specialized agency
    • number of days taken
    • number of teams formed
    • number of manpower deployed
    • number of villages / districts covered
    • total distance (kms.) covered

1.30 The Social Auditor should conduct a desk review of existing documents to gain further insight into the evaluation procedure and impact assessment. Such documents, in relation to Promotion of Financial Inclusion, may include the following:

  • Financial literacy and education programmes
  • Financial planning of funds
  • Tie-ups with banking and financial institutions
  • Training for operating of net and mobile banking
  • Assistance in completing KYC and other banking formalities
  • Customer protection and grievance redressal
  • Creating/ strengthening requisite infrastructure
  • Universal access to financial services
  • Following a target-based approach
  • Feedback form from beneficiaries
  • Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the entity and the implementing agencies/ sponsors/ banking and financial institutions/ trainers/ other related institutions
  • Help-desk facilities
  • Photographs of various programmes/ events
  • Advertisement – leaflets / newspaper
  • Self Help Groups (SHG) Formation or Financial inclusion through SHG formation & empowerment

Inspection & Personal Interviews

1.40 Besides desk review, the Social Auditor should also consider conducting physical inspection and personal interviews to get firsthand assessment of impact.

Evaluation Questions

1.50 The Social Auditor should review the evaluation questions addressed through Questionnaires, In-depth interviews and Focused Group Discussions to assess the responses received from various stakeholders and to understand what has changed. This would help the Social Auditor in forming the views on the following aspects:

  • Did the target people receive the benefit?
  • Did they think differently after the benefit?
  • Did they understand the concept and work towards financial planning?
  • Did they start using the bouquet of financial services?
  • Did they learn something they did not know?
  • Did they use / apply the knowledge and gain from it?
  • Did they share it with others?
  • Did the standard of living improve?

Such questions, in relation to Promotion of financial inclusion, may cover the following aspects:

(a) Composition of the participants

  • Whether the program objectives were found to be consistent with the composition of the beneficiaries?

(b) Quality of benefits provided

  • How was the quality of services provided?
  • Have beneficiaries initiated the use of financial services?
  • Were the beneficiaries satisfied with the services that they received?
  • How was the quality of engagement with beneficiaries?
  • Are beneficiaries better informed about their rights, entitlements, and the policies and schemes that affect them viz. National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD), Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana (PMJDY), Lead Banking Scheme, Pradhan Mantri Jeevan Jyoti Bima Yojana (PMJJBY), etc.?
  • Have the services enhanced beneficiary’s standard of living?
  • Has financial planning increased amongst the beneficiaries (All the citizens includes but is not limited to men, women, elderly, children, and at-risk adolescents, divyang – physically and mentally challenged, specially abled, SCs, STs, OBCs.)?
  • Have the beneficiaries started using mobile and net banking?
  • Whether help-desk facilities provided were beneficial and effective?
  • Suggestions from beneficiaries for improvement of the programs

(c) Suggestions / Feedback

  • What were the constraints or challenges faced in providing the services/ programs?

Key Metrics for Evaluation of Project/ Program

1.60 The Social Auditor should review the project/ program documents to frame the evaluation criteria for assessing impact. Such key metrics may be collated from base-line, mid-line (monthly / quarterly) and end-line assessment (if available), respectively at the beginning, middle and end of the reporting period / project / program to effectively understand and evaluate impact.

  • The baseline measurement is done to establish the starting point in any project/program, which is then used to measure what actually changed due to the intervention of the entity.
  • Assess the past performance trend of the entity.
  • Assess the highlights and key achievements during the reporting period. The evaluation of the project/ program information would facilitate the Social Auditor to assess:
  • What would have happened in the absence of the intervention?
  • How much the project contributed to the changes that are evidenced?
  • How much unintended negative impacts happened due to the intervention?

Assessment of Evaluation Criteria (Illustrative Key Performance Indicators)

1.70 The Social Auditor should identify the quantitative and qualitative evaluation criteria or the key performance indicators against which the impact has to be assessed.

Such criteria in relation to Promotion of financial inclusion may include any of the following aspects:

S. No Evaluation Criteria
(A) Quantitative Criteria
1 Number of people having an account (by themselves or together with someone else) with a banking or financial institution along with demographics and geographical bifurcation
2 Number of people with at least 12 deposit and withdrawals from their account in a year
3 Number of deposit accounts opened
4 Number of wallet accounts generated and amount of monetary transactions
5 Number of people with loans outstanding from a bank or financial institution along with demographics and geographical bifurcation
6 Number of insurance policy holders segregated between life and non-life insurance
7 Number of digital transactions entered along with demographical and geographical bifurcation
8 Number of people using mobile banking/ internet banking
9 Number of debit and credit card holders and number of people using a debit or credit card for making payments along with demographical and geographical bifurcation
10 Number of people receiving salaries/ wages through direct transfers into their account
11 Amount of savings along with demographical and geographical bifurcation
12 Micro Small and Medium Enterprise (MSME) account holders with type of account details
13 Loans/ borrowing facilities to MSME holders
14 Number of branches in a particular area
15 Number of ATMs/ PoS terminals in a particular area
16 Number of financial and digital literacy camps conducted and attendance thereof
17 How many (number) people received the benefit?
18 Improvement in Income levels (pre and post) – program intervention? e.g. Less than Rs. 5000 p/m before Intervention and More than Rs. 5000 p/m after Program intervention
19 Improvement in Savings (pre and post) – program intervention? e.g. Less than Rs. 2000­3000 p/m before Intervention and More than Rs. 3000 p/m after Program intervention
20 How did you use the increased savings? e.g. Investments, Buying assets, Children’s education, Loan repayment. Household needs etc.
21 Asset Ownership (pre and post) – program intervention? A list of assets could be created like TV, Fridge, Cycle, 2-wheeler Motorcycle, 3-wheeler, 4-wheeler, Water connection, Electricity connection, Gas connection, etc to understand ownership of assets pre and post programmatic intervention.
(B) Qualitative Criteria
1 Building knowledge and awareness – Increased financial literacy, market conduct and consumer protection and increased standard of living may be used to assess the improvement in economic conditions.

The following indicators may be used to assess the same:

  • Financial knowledge score: Understanding about inflation, interest rate, compounding effect of interest, insurance, etc.
  • Financial behaviour: Purpose and utility of savings for emergency funding
  • Ease in accessibility of obtaining loans/ borrowing facilities
  • Quality of services towards grievance redressal
  • Quality of infrastructure
2 Improvement in Decision Making – Ability to make decisions in household affairs when buying assets for the family, taking decisions on children education, ability to spend independently without anyone’s approval
3 What was the change experienced by the beneficiary stakeholder?
4 How long did they experience the change?
5 Do you see any change in the way society treats you because of your participation in Financial Inclusion program?
6 Which aspect of the Financial Inclusion program helped you the most? What has changed in your life due to the financial inclusion programme?


Challenges / Areas for improvement

1.80 The Social Auditor should identify the challenges faced by the stakeholders and the areas for improvement based on the suggestions and feedback received from them, which might have an influence on the impact assessment. Some of the examples of commonly faced issues in relation to Promotion of financial inclusion may include the following:

  • Lack of awareness to all the citizens includes but is not limited to men, women, elderly, children, at-risk adolescents, divyang – physically and mentally challenged, specially abled, SCs, STs, OBCs
  • Lack of awareness of rights, entitlements, schemes and entities working to provide financial inclusion
  • Unavailability of adequate funds among non-profits for availing support services from ecosystem entities
  • Security related issues resulting in frauds have the potential to undermine public confidence in the use of electronic payment products
  • Lack of power supply and weak network connectivity
  • Technology related issues
  • Lack of knowledgeable manpower to educate and train people about financial services and their operations

Any significant issues observed during the assessment, that may influence the user of the Impact Assessment in decision making, should be highlighted by the Social Auditor in the Social Audit report.

Limitations of the assessment

1.90 The Social Auditor should identify the inherent limitations of the evaluation process which might have an influence on the impact assessment. Some of the examples in relation to Promotion of financial inclusion may include the following:

  • Cases of no-response in case the questionnaire is not administered in person
  • Some of the questions being skipped by the respondents and remaining unanswered
  • Non-availability of respondents after completion of the services provided
  • Change in contact details of respondents due to which they could not be contacted
  • Untrained social investigator conducting survey
  • Percentage of error in data

Any significant limitations observed during the assessment, that may influence the user of the Impact Assessment in decision making, should be highlighted by the Social Auditor in the Social Audit report.


Taxonomic classification of areas and sub-areas for Social Objectives

(Relating to Promotion of financial inclusion)

Sr. No. Areas Sub-Areas
13 Promotion of financial inclusion
  • Undertake reforms to give all the citizens including but not limited to men, women,   elderly,    children,    and  at-risk adolescents, divyang – physically and mentally challenged, specially abled, SCs, STs, OBCs, regions equitable access to/ awareness and availability of affordable financial services.


To Read Related post Social Audit Standard

SAS 100 Eradicating hunger, poverty, malnutrition and inequality
SAS 200 Promoting health care including mental healthcare, sanitation and making available safe drinking water
SAS 300 Promoting Education, Employability, and Livelihoods
SAS 400 Promoting Gender Equality, Empowerment of Women & LGBTQIA + Communities
SAS 500 Ensuring environmental sustainability, addressing climate change including mitigation and adaptation, forest and wildlife conservation
SAS 600 Protection of national heritage, art and culture
SAS 700 Training to promote rural sports, nationally recognised sports, Paralympic sports and Olympic sports
SAS 800 Supporting incubators of social enterprises
SAS 900 Supporting other platforms that strengthen non-profit ecosystem in fundraising & capacity building
SAS 1000 Promoting Livelihoods for rural and urban poor including enhancing income of Small and Marginal Farmers and workers in the non-farm sector
SAS 1100 Slum area development, affordable housing and other interventions to build sustainable and resilient cities
SAS 1200 Disaster Management, including Relief, Rehabilitation and Reconstruction Activities
SAS 1300 Promotion of financial inclusion
SAS 1400 Facilitating Access to Land and Property Assets for disadvantaged Communities
SAS 1500 Bridging digital divide in internet and mobile phone access, addressing issues of misinformation & data protection
SAS 1600 Promoting welfare of migrants and displaced persons

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February 2024