Glossary

A

Active Clients

Individuals, groups, or organizations with active credit or savings accounts (excluding remittances or other financial transactions) or clients who have had transactions with the MFI during the reporting period.

For additional guidance, see CGAP's Number of Active Clients definition.

Affordable Housing

Housing for which the associated financial costs are at a level that does not threaten other basic needs and represents a reasonable proportion of an individual’s overall income.

Source: Human Rights Education Associates

Agricultural Land

Agricultural Land may be defined broadly as land used primarily for production of food and fiber. Agricultural land subcategories identified in the Anderson Land Classification system include cropland and pasture; orchards, groves, vineyards, nurseries, and ornamental horticultural areas; confined feeding operations; and other agricultural land.

Source: Anderson Land Classification System

Asset

An asset is a resource controlled by the organization as a result of past events and from which future economic benefits are expected to flow to the enterprise.

Anything tangible or intangible that is capable of being owned or controlled to produce value and that is held to have positive economic value is considered an asset. Simply stated, assets represent ownership of value that can be converted into cash (although cash itself is also considered an asset).

B

Barren Land

Barren land is land of limited ability to support life and in which less than one-third of the area has vegetation or other cover. In general, it is an area of thin soil, sand, or rocks. Vegetation, if present, is more widely spaced and scrubby than that in the Shrub and Brush category of Rangeland. Unusual conditions, such as a heavy rainfall, occasionally result in growth of a short- lived, more luxuriant plant cover. Wet, nonvegetated barren lands are included in the Nonforested Wetland category.

Barren land subcategories identified in the Anderson Land Classification system include dry salt flats, beaches, sandy areas other than beaches; bare exposed rock; strip mines, quarries, and gravel pits; transitional areas; and mixed barren land.

Source: Anderson Land Classification System.

Beneficiary

Individuals for which the organization intends to provide opportunities through consumption, production, or distribution of its products or services.

Benefit Corporation

Benefit Corporations are a new class of corporation that:

  1. 1) Creates a material positive impact on society and the environment;
  2. 2) Expands fiduciary duty to require consideration of non-financial interests when making decisions; and
  3. 3) Reports on its overall social and environmental performance using recognized third party standards.

Source: Benefit Corp Information Center

Biodegradable

Capable of decomposing under natural conditions.

Source: United States Environmental Protection Agency

Board of Directors

A group of people legally responsible to govern a corporation and responsible to the shareholders, and sometimes to stakeholders as well.

Source: B Lab

Building Reuse

Buildings renovated/remodeled that were initially constructed (and completed) at least 40 years ago.

Source: Triple Bottom Line Collaborative (TBLC)

Business to Business (B2B)

Organization operates by selling its goods or services to other businesses, formally or informally.

Business to Consumer (B2C)

Organization operates by selling its goods or services to the end consumer (individuals, households, communities, etc.)

Business to Government (B2G)

Organization operates by selling/providing its goods or services to government agencies.

C

Caregivers

Individuals who provide preventative, curative, rehabilitative and promotional health services. A caregiver could be a doctor, nurse, clinician, community health worker, etc.

Caregivers Professionals

Caregiver health professionals provide preventive, curative, rehabilitative and promotional health services based on an extensive body of theoretical and factual knowledge in diagnosis and treatment of disease and other health problems. They may conduct research on human disorders and illnesses, ways of treating them, as well as supervise other workers.

The knowledge and skills required are usually obtained as the result of study at a higher educational institution in a health-related field for a period of 3–6 years leading to the award of a first degree or higher qualification. This includes general and specialist medical practitioners, nurses, dentists, paramedics, etc.

Source: World Health Organization and International Standard Classification of Occupations

Cash Equivalents

Cash equivalents are short-term, highly-liquid investments that are readily convertible to known amounts of cash and are subject to an insignificant risk of changes in value.

Children and Adolescent

Persons under the age of 19, as defined by the World Health Organization (WHO). For specific details, the WHO defines infants as birth to 1 years, children as 1 to 10 years and adolescents as 10 to 19 years.

Certification

A certification must be from a third party, be standards-based, have those standards be transparent, and have an assurance process. The process of certification is carried out by a recognized body, independent from interested parties, which demonstrates that a product or organization complies with the requirements defined in the standards or technical specifications.

Certified

A person who receives certification from a recognized body, independent from interested parties, and can demonstrate that the organization complies with the requirements defined in the standards or technical specifications.

Charitable Donation

Charitable donations include financial contributions and in-kind donations of goods and services to non-profits or non-governmental organizations. Pricing discounts to non-profits do not count as charitable donations; only free services are considered to be in-kind donations.

Client

Buyer or recipient of the organization's products or services.

Client metrics are intended to capture the number of individual consumers served by the organization, not the number of consumer transactions. For example a customer who makes two purchases during a period would only be counted once.

For microfinance clients, this refers to active clients.

For healthcare providers, this refers to patients.

Client Protection

Client protection can be a relevant concept in a number of sectors. Specifically for the microfinance sector, the definition is linked to The Campaign for Client Protection in Microfinance, which seeks to unite microfinance providers worldwide to develop and implement standards for the appropriate treatment of low-income clients based on the following six principles:

  1. 1) Avoidance of Over-Indebtedness
  2. 2) Transparent Pricing
  3. 3) Appropriate Collections Practices
  4. 4) Ethical Staff Behavior
  5. 5) Mechanisms for Redress of Grievances
  6. 6) Privacy of Client Data

More information about the client protection initiative

Code of Ethics

Sometimes called a Code of Conduct or Code of Business Standards. This is a formal document that establishes behavioral expectations for the organization and the people who work there.

Source: B Lab

Community Service Policy

A code that encourages and allows employees to volunteer or engage in charitable giving. For example, organizations might offer employees a certain number of hours/year of paid time off to volunteer, or organize company-wide service days, service sabbaticals, or leaves of absence, etc. Included in the definition is serving on an organization's board or governing body.

Source: B Lab

Contract

A contract is an agreement with specific terms between two or more persons or entities in which there is a promise to do something in return for a valuable benefit, such as payment. The existence of a contract requires that there be a proposed and accepted offer, a promise to perform by one entity and a promise to provide a valuable benefit by the other (payment), and a time or event by which performance must occur.

Cooperative (Co-op)

Co-operatives are independent enterprises, promoted, owned and democratically governed by a group of members who have freely joined together to address a specified need or problem, and in some cases contribute assets towards addressing that need or problem.

Adapted from DFID, 2008

Corporate Governance

Corporate governance is the system by which business corporations are directed and controlled. The corporate governance structure specifies the distribution of rights and responsibilities among different participants in the corporation, such as board members, managers, shareholders, and other stakeholders, and spells out the rules and procedures for making decisions on corporate affairs.

Corporation

An organization where shareholders maintain ownership and that is managed by a Board.

Critical Equipment

Critical equipment or facilities are those fixed assets necessary for the organization to provide its products and services, in the sense that they are materially necessary. Materially necessary means that if the equipment were destroyed, degraded or compromised, it would make it difficult or impossible for the organization to provide its services/products. It is also typically equipment that has a maximum utilization that is a limiting factor on the units produced or services provided. For example, a hospital might cite patient beds, an MRI machine, or sterile surgical rooms as critical equipment/facilities.

Cultural Values/Services

Cultural Values/Services are the nonmaterial benefits obtained from ecosystems.

  • Recreation and ecotourism: Recreational pleasure people derive from natural or cultivated ecosystems
  • Ethical and spiritual values: Spiritual, religious, aesthetic, intrinsic, “existence,” or similar values people attach to ecosystems, landscapes, or species
  • Educational and inspirational values: Information derived from ecosystems used for intellectual development, culture, art, design, and innovation

Source: WRI

D

Depreciation and Amortization

Depreciation and Amortization is the systematic allocation of depreciable assets, tangible (depreciation) and intangible (amortization), over the assets' useful lives.

Direct Emissions

Emissions from sources that are owned or controlled by the reporting organization. For example, direct emissions related to combustion would arise from burning fuel for energy within the reporting organization’s operational boundaries.

Disabilities

A person with a disability is defined as someone who has, or considers themselves to have, a long-term or recurring issue that impacts one or more activities that others may consider to be a daily function. This definition also includes the perception among others that a disability exists.

Distributors

An individual or organization that sells products or services to other distributors (wholesale) or to the ultimate consumer (retail).

Drop-out

A student who, for any reason other than death, leaves school before graduation without transferring to another school/institution.

E

Earned Premium

The value of the portion of a policy’s premium that applies to the expired portion of the policy. Although insurance premiums are often paid in advance, insurers typically earn the premium at an even rate throughout the policy term. The remainder is the unearned premium.

Source: Glossary of Insurance & Risk Management Terms

Ecological restoration

Ecological restoration is the process of assisting the recovery of an ecosystem that has been degraded, damaged, or destroyed. An ecosystem has recovered - and is restored - when it contains sufficient biotic and abiotic resources to continue its development without further assistance or subsidy. It will sustain itself structurally and functionally. It will demonstrate resilience to normal ranges of environmental stress and disturbance. It will interact with contiguous ecosystems in terms of biotic and abiotic flows and cultural interactions.

For example, if the objective is to establish tree cover with a designated species composition and species abundance on former cropland, one intervention could be to plant sapling trees of the designated species at specified densities. Refer to Society for Ecological Restoration Guidelines for Developing and Managing Ecological Restoration Projects for additional background information.

Ecosystem Services

The benefits people obtain from ecosystems. These include provisioning services such as food and water; regulating services such as regulation of floods, drought, land degradation, and disease; supporting services such as soil formation and nutrient cycling; and cultural services such as recreational, spiritual, religious and other non-material benefits.

Source: International Union for the Conservation of Nature, Hassan, R., R. Scholes and N. Ash (Eds). 2005. Ecosystems and Human Well-Being: Current State and Trends: Findings of the Condition and Trends Working Group v. 1 (Millennium Ecosystem Assessment). Washington DC: Island Press.

Ecosystem services are benefits that people get from nature. Examples include fresh water, timber, climate regulation, recreation, and aesthetic values.

Provisioning services are goods provided by ecosystems, and include crops, timber, and livestock as well as genetic resources for medicines.

Regulating services maintain healthy ecosystem functioning, and include water purification, pollination, water regulation, and climate regulation.

Cultural services are intangible and non-material value people derive from nature, and include spiritual and aesthetic benefits as well as recreation and tourism. Supporting services are the natural processes that maintain the other ecosystem services.

Source: World Resources Institute

Endangered or vulnerable species

All species with the status of "Near Threatened," "Vulnerable," "Endangered," or "Critically Endangered" on the Red List of Threatened Species prepared by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

Source: IUCN

Energy Conservation

Energy conservation refers to efforts made to reduce the total amount of energy needed to carry out current processes or tasks. The term does not include overall reduction in energy consumption from reduced organizational activities (e.g., partial outsourcing of production).

Source: Global Reporting Initiative (GRI)

Environmental Management System

An Environmental Management System (EMS) is a set of processes and practices that enable an organization to reduce its environmental impacts and increase its operating efficiency. An EMS helps a company address its regulatory demands in a systematic and cost-effective manner, and can also help address non-regulated issues, such as energy conservation, and can promote stronger operational control and employee stewardship.

Source: Adapted from the EPA

F

Fair Dismissal

Reasons for dismissal which shall be not be considered valid include those based on union membership or participation in union activities, filing of a complaint against an employer, race, color, sex, marital status, family responsibilities, pregnancy, religion, political opinion, national extraction or social origin, temporary absence due to illness, or absence from work during maternity leave.

Source: International Labor Organization (ILO).

Financial Services Delivery Methodology

  1. 1. Individual loans: A loan made to an individual borrower who is solely responsible for its repayment.
  2. 2. Solidarity group: A loan group made up of approximately 3–10 people drawn from the same community and where group members collectively guarantee loan repayment.
  3. 3. Village banking: As in solidarity groups, loan repayment is guaranteed by collective membership, but loan groups are bigger, made up of approximately 20–30 people (typically women).

Forest Land

Forest lands have a tree-crown areal density (crown closure percentage) of 10 percent or more, are stocked with trees capable of producing timber or other wood products, and exert an influence on the climate or water regime. Lands from which trees have been removed to less than 10 percent crown closure but which have not been developed for other uses also are included; for example, lands on which there are rotation cycles of clear cutting and block planting are part of Forest Land.

Lands that meet the requirements for Forest Land and also for an Urban or Built-up category should be placed in the latter category. The only exceptions in classifying forest land are those areas which would otherwise be classified as Wetland if not for the forest cover. Since the wet condition is of much interest to land managers and planning groups and is so important as an environmental surrogate and control, such lands are classified as Forested Wetland.

Forest Land subcategories identified in the Anderson Land Classification system include: Deciduous, Evergreen, and Mixed.

Source: Anderson Land Classification System

Full-time Employee

Full-time paid employees work year round and typically work 35-50 hours per week. If local definitions of full-time equivalency differ, use appropriate standard.

Full-time Equivalent

A full-time equivalent (FTE) job is the equivalent of one person working full time as defined by local laws. FTEs is equal to the number of full-time employees plus the number of employees on part-time schedules converted to a full-time basis. In most instances this should include seasonal, contractual, part-time and full time employees hired directly by the financed enterprise or through third party agencies.

In calculating the number of full-time equivalent jobs, part-time jobs should be converted to full-time equivalent jobs on a pro rata basis, based on local definition (e.g., if the standard working week equals 40 hours, a 20 hr/week job would be equal to 0.5 FTE job). Both full-time and part-time jobs should be calculated based on the number of employees employed as of the end of the reporting period. Seasonal or short-term jobs should be prorated based on the time worked throughout the reporting period (e.g., a full-time position for three months at any point during the reporting period would be equal to a 0.25 FTE job).

Note that in the United States, the US Treasury Department defines a working week as 35 hours.

G

Green Building

Green building is the practice of creating structures and using processes that are environmentally responsible and resource-efficient throughout a building's life-cycle from sitting to design, construction, operation, maintenance, renovation, and deconstruction.

Source: United States Environmental Protection Agency

Greenhouse Gases (GHG)

Greenhouse gases (sometimes abbreviated GHG) are gases that trap heat in the atmosphere. The most common gases include carbon dioxide, NOx, SOx, methane, etc.

Refer to the following sources for further guidance:

H

Hazardous Waste

Refuse that could present dangers through the contamination and pollution of the environment. It requires special disposal techniques to make it harmless or less dangerous.

Source: United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)

Health Service Delivery Facilities

Health service delivery facilities are facilities that aid in the provision of medical care/treatment. These can include pharmacies, kiosks, diagnostic centers, rehabilitation centers, customer outlets, etc.

Hectares directly controlled

Hectares under the organization's direct control are those for which the organization completely controls land use through direct operation or management. This includes situations where the organization's employees cultivate the land directly.

Note that land ownership is not always equivalent to control. For example, in situations where land is leased to another entity or individual to cultivate, land is only directly controlled if the lease is accompanied by exhaustive land use criteria.

Hectares indirectly controlled

Hectares under the organization's indirect control are those for which the organization exerts significant influence or total control over land use practices, but that the organization does not directly cultivate or manage.

Examples in which the organization indirectly controls land may include purchase contracts specifying cultivation techniques on a significant portion of an operating entity's land. This may occur when organizations, such as a cooperatives, source agricultural inputs from smallholder farmers on the condition that the smallholders adhere to specific land use practices.

High Conservation Value Forest

Areas with environmental and social values that are considered to be of outstanding or exceptional importance. A High Conservation Value Forest (HCVF) can be a small part of a larger forest, such as an archeological site, or can be an entire forest unit, as is sometimes the case when the forest is habitat for a threatened or endangered species.

Source: Rainforest Alliance

Highly Hazardous Pesticide

Pesticide use refers to insecticides, fungicides, herbicides, disinfectants, and any substance intended for preventing, destroying, attracting, repelling, or controlling any pest, including unwanted species of plants or animals during the production, storage, transport, distribution, and processing of food, agricultural commodities, or animal feeds that may be administered to animals for the control of ectoparasites.

Highly hazardous pesticides refer to pesticides with potentially dangerous impacts on life and health. Refer to the list available from the World Health Organization for most up to date list on pesticides currently considered highly hazardous. (See http://www.who.int/ipcs/publications/ pesticides_hazard_2009.pdf)

Source: United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), World Health Organization (WHO)

Housing Unit

A housing unit is a separate and independent place of abode intended for habitation by a single household. This category includes housing of various levels of permanency and acceptability and therefore requires further classification in order to provide for a meaningful assessment of housing conditions.

I

Independent Board Member

Independents are defined as non-management and non-material investors/owners (owning less than 5%)

Source: B Lab

Indirect Emissions

Emissions that result from the activities of the reporting organization but are generated at sources owned or controlled by another organization. In the context of this indicator, indirect emissions refer to Greenhouse Gas emissions from the generation of electricity, heat, or steam that is imported and consumed by the reporting organization.

Individual Lending

A loan made to an individual borrower who is solely responsible for its repayment.

Insurance Premium

The amount of money an insurer charges to provide the coverage described in the policy or bond. Insurance premiums may vary due to factors such as geography or policy length, for example.

Source: Glossary of Insurance & Risk Management Terms

L

Large Enterprises

Businesses with more than 250 workers.

Limited Liability Company

An organization that is owned by one or more members and controlled by members or managers.

Liability

A liability is a present obligation of the organization arising from past events, the settlement of which is expected to result in an outflow from the entity of resources with economic benefit.

Loan Officer

A loan officer is a staff member of record who is directly responsible for arranging and monitoring client loans.

Source: Microfinance Information Exchange

Low Income

Low-income people are individuals living above the poverty line but below the national median income. For any update about poverty lines and Purchasing Power Parity visit http://www.povertytools.org

For U.S. clients, a client whose annual (gross) income does not exceed 80% of the median family income for the area (adjusted for family size). Please refer to HUD standards here: http://www.hud.gov/offices/cpd/affordablehousing/library/glossary. To determine the 2012 income limits by area please refer to: http://www.huduser.org/portal/datasets/il/il12/index.html.

For organizations operating in developing countries, commonly used tools to help determine the absolute poverty level of clients:

  • Progress Out of Poverty Index (PPI): The PPI scorecards use a small set of simple, easily observable, and objective indicators to estimate the share of clients who are below an established poverty line.
  • USAID Poverty Assessment Tool: The USAID Poverty Assessment Tool is a set of country-specific surveys used to predict the prevalence of extreme poverty within a group of people.
  • FINCA Client Assessment Tool (FCAT): The FCAT employs a set of 13 individual screens to record income sources and dependents, monthly household expenditures, and daily per capita expenditures and poverty levels.
Low Income Area

A geographic area (neighborhood, village, other region) where the median family income is less than 80% of the median family income of the surrounding vicinity.

M

Manager

Managers are individuals who have the responsibility to oversee organizations or units within organizations. Managers plan, direct, coordinate, and evaluate the overall activities of enterprises, governments, and other organizations, or of organizational units within them, and formulate and review their policies, laws, rules, and regulations.

Adapted from the International Labor Organization (ILO)

Medical Referral

The process through which a healthcare provider sends a patient to see a specialist to receive additional care.

Microenterprises

Microenterprises are those with 10 or fewer workers and which are often unregistered and run by the Poor or Very Poor.

Minority/Previously Excluded

Minority or previously excluded should relate to local guidelines for places with well-established policies (e.g., South Africa: Broad Based Black Economic Empowerment (BBBEE) definition of previously excluded, India: based on backward caste). Otherwise provide footnote as to methodology.

Mission Statement

The mission statement is a concise message that expresses how your company generates financial, social and/or environmental value through its business activities.

Source: B Lab

N

Native Species

Species native to a given territory means a species that has been observed in the form of a naturally occurring and self-sustaining population in historical times.

New Access to Education

Students who are provided schooling who previously were not in school because the distance they had to travel, cost they had to pay, or requirements of entry prohibited the student from attending.

New Access to Energy

Previously un-electrified households served with access to electricity either from utility/community generation, distributed generation, or improved distribution during the reporting period.

New Access to Finance

Households or individuals that previously did not have access to finance.

New Access to Healthcare

Individuals who previously were not served by formal health care because the distance they had to travel, cost they had to pay, or requirements of entry prohibited them from seeking such services.

New Access to Water

Households, that previously did not have reasonable access to water. Reasonable access to water is defined as the availability of at least 20 liters per person per day from an acceptable source within 1 kilometer of the user’s dwelling.

Acceptable sources include: household connection, public standpipe, borehole, protected dug well or spring water, rainwater collection, connection to a public sewer or septic system, pour-flush or simple-pit latrine, and ventilated improved pit-latrine.

Source: United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Water Assessment Programme (WWAP)

Non-profit Organization/Non-governmental Organization

A non-profit organization is one that is registered as a non-profit entity according to the rules/regulations of the country in which it is based. A non-governmental organization (NGO) has primarily humanitarian or cooperative, rather than commercial, objectives and is largely independent of government. Refer to national regulations of the country in which it is based.

Non-renewable Energy

Non-renewable energy is from sources that can not be replenished (made again) in a short period of time. Non-renewable energy sources include oil and petroleum products (including gasoline, diesel fuel, heating oil, and propane), natural gas, coal, and uranium (nuclear energy).

Source: World Bank, U.S. Department of Energy glossary.

O

Occupational injury

An occupational injury is any personal injury, disease or death resulting from an occupational accident. An occupational accident is an unexpected and unplanned occurrence, including acts of violence, arising out of or in connection with work which results in one or more workers incurring a personal injury.

Source: International Labor Organization (ILO)

P

Partnership

An organization that is owned by two or more individuals or other entities, and is controlled by those partners.

Part-time Employee

Part-time paid employees work year round but do not meet full-time equivalency standards (typically less than 35 hours a week).

Perennial Snow or Ice

Land with perennial snow cover, including perennial snowfields, and glaciers.

Source: Anderson Land Classification System

Peri-urban

The areas immediately adjoining urban areas i.e. between the suburbs and the countryside. Such areas are found outside formal urban boundaries and urban jurisdictions which are in a process of urbanization and which therefore progressively assume many of the characteristics of urban areas. Inhabitants in these areas generally fall into the low-income group of the community and mostly live in slums. These peri-urban areas are also seen as an interface between the urban and rural areas.

Source: Adapted from UN's FAO

Permanently Protected Land

Protected land for which legal land use restrictions set for the purposes of maintaining biological diversity and natural resources are permanent and established in perpetuity. Being established in perpetuity means that the deed of conservation easement must state that the restriction remains on the property forever and is binding on current and future owners of the property. See definition for "Protected Land."

Source: Adapted from the United States Internal Revenue Service

Poor

The poor are people living below a recognized poverty line. Commonly recognized poverty lines include (1) persons living below the poverty line established by the national government, or (2) persons living on less than US $2.00 per day in daily per-capita expenditures at 1993 Purchasing Power Parity (PPP).

Commonly used tools to help determine the absolute poverty level of clients:

  • Progress Out of Poverty Index (PPI): The PPI scorecards use a small set of simple, easily observable, and objective indicators to estimate the share of clients who are below an established poverty line.
  • USAID Poverty Assessment Tool: The USAID Poverty Assessment Tool is a set of country-specific surveys used to predict the prevalence of extreme poverty within a group of people.
  • FINCA Client Assessment Tool (FCAT): FCAT employs a set of 13 individual screens to record income sources and dependents, monthly household expenditures, and daily per capita expenditures and poverty levels.
Potable

Water safe enough to be consumed by humans or used with low risk of immediate or long term harm. Potable water can be used for domestic purposes, drinking, cooking and personal hygiene.

Protected Land

An area of land especially dedicated to the protection and maintenance of conservation values and managed through an enforceable legal mechanism.

Legal restrictions protecting land may be permanent or nonpermanent. See permanently protected land.

Source: Adapted from the IUCN

Provisioning Values/Services

Provisioning Values/Services are the goods or products that are obtained from ecosystems

  • Food: Includes crops, livestock, capture fisheries, aquaculture, and wild foods.
  • Biological raw materials: Includes timber and other wood products, fibers and resins, animal skins, sand, and ornamental resources.
  • Biomass fuel: Biological material derived from living or recently living organisms—both plant and animal—that serves as a source of energy
  • Freshwater: Inland bodies of water, groundwater, rainwater, and surface waters for household, industrial, and agricultural uses
  • Genetic resources: genes and genetic information used for animal breeding, plant improvement, and biotechnology
  • Biochemical's, natural medicines, pharmaceuticals: medicines, biocides, food additives, and other biological materials derived from ecosystem for commercial or domestic use

For detailed definitions of ecosystem services please refer to the World Resources Institute: http://pdf.wri.org/corporate_ecosystem_services_review.pdf

Source: WRI

Publicly-known Feedback Mechanism

A publicly-known feedback mechanism that clients or employees can use to provide feedback, ask questions and file complaints that is broadly recognized and promoted by the company and that most/all clients/employees are aware of. Examples include products that have an email address or phone number for customer feedback listed on packaging; a company that has a feedback link displayed on it's customer-facing website or internal employee website; a company that includes a customer feedback number on its invoices or contract agreements. A publicly-known mechanism does not include a company that accepts feedback through informal mechanisms (such as occasional phone calls from customers or reliance on self-volunteerism from employees).

Source: B Lab

Q

Qualified conservation organization

An organization is qualified if it is a government entity or a publicly recognized charity or social purpose organization. The organization must be committed to ensuring the conservation purpose of the land. For example, qualified conservation organizations will generally have an established monitoring program such as annual property inspections to ensure compliance with the conservation goals, or terms of the legal encumbrances on the land. The organization must also have the resources to enforce the restrictions of the conservation easement. Resources do not necessarily mean cash. Resources may be in the form of volunteer services such as lawyers who provide legal services or people who inspect and prepare monitoring reports.

Source: Adapted from the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (Chapter 4: Qualified Organizations)

R

Rangeland

Rangeland historically has been defined as land where the potential natural vegetation is predominantly grasses, grasslike plants, forbs, or shrubs and where natural herbivory was an important influence in its pre-civilization state. Management techniques which associate soil, water, and forage-vegetation resources are more suitable for rangeland management than are practices generally used in managing pastureland. Some rangelands have been or may be seeded to introduced or domesticated plant species. Rangeland subcategories identified in the Anderson Land Classification system include: herbaceous range, shrub and brush rangeland, and mixed rangeland.

Source: Anderson Land Classification System

Recycled Water

Water Recycling is defined as using on-site treated waste water for beneficial purposes. For example, treating previously used water to be used for irrigation, toilet water, etc.

Source: World Resources Institute (WRI)

Recycling

The reprocessing of materials into new products, which generally prevents the waste of potentially useful materials, reduces the consumption of raw materials, lowers energy usage, and decreases greenhouse gas emissions compared to virgin production.

Reforested

Planting of forests on lands that have previously contained forest but have since been converted to some other use.

Regulating Values/Services

Regulating Values/Services are the benefits obtained from an ecosystem's control of natural processes. They include:

  • Maintenance of air quality: influence ecosystems have on air quality by emitting chemicals to the atmosphere or extracting chemicals from the atmosphere.
  • Regulation of climate: Influence ecosystems have on the global climate by emitting or absorbing greenhouse gases or aerosols from the atmosphere, as well as influence ecosystems have on local or regional temperature, precipitation, and other climatic factors.
  • Regulation of water timing and flows: Influence ecosystems have on the timing and magnitude of water runoff, flooding, and aquifer recharge, particularly in terms of the water storage potential of the ecosystem or landscape
  • Erosion control: Role ecosystems play in retaining and replenishing soil and sand deposits
  • Water purification and waste treatment: Role ecosystems play in the filtration and decomposition of organic wastes and pollutants in water; assimilation and detoxification of compounds through soil and subsoil processes
  • Disease mitigation: Influence that ecosystems have on the incidence and abundance of human pathogens
  • Maintenance of soil quality: Role ecosystems play in sustaining soil’s biological activity, diversity and productivity; regulating and partitioning water and solute flow; storing and recycling nutrients and gases; among other functions
  • Pest mitigation: Influence ecosystems have on the prevalence of crop and livestock pests and diseases
  • Pollination: Role ecosystems play in transferring pollen from male to female flower parts
  • Natural hazard mitigation: Capacity for ecosystems to reduce the damage caused by natural disasters such as hurricanes and tsunamis and to maintain natural fire frequency and intensity

Source: WRI

Renewable Energy

Renewable energy is derived from natural processes that are replenished constantly. This includes electricity and heat generated from solar, wind, ocean, hydropower, biomass, geothermal resources, and hydrogen derived from renewable resources.

Source: Global Reporting Initiative (GRI)

Reporting Period

The reporting period is the time from the reported Report Start Date (OD6951) to the Report End Date (OD7111).

Revenue

Revenue is the gross inflow of economic benefits arising in the course of the ordinary activities of an organization when those inflows result in increases in equity, other than increases relating to contributions from equity participants. Revenue includes only the gross inflows of monies received and receivable by the organization on its own account. Amounts collected on behalf of third parties, such as sales taxes, goods and services taxes, and value added taxes are not economic benefits which flow to the entity and do not result in increases in equity. Therefore, they are excluded from revenue. Similarly, in an agency relationship, the gross inflows of economic benefits include amounts collected on behalf of the principal and which do not result in increases in equity for the entity. The amounts collected on behalf of the principal are not revenue. Instead, revenue is the amount of commission.

Rural

Rural areas are those not characterized as peri-urban or urban. The traditional distinction between urban and rural areas within a country has been based on the assumption that urban areas, no matter how they are defined, provide a different way of life and usually a higher level of living than are found in rural areas. In many industrialized countries, this distinction has become blurred and the principal difference between urban and rural areas in terms of the circumstances of living tends to be a matter of the degree of concentration of population. Although the differences between urban and rural ways of life and standards of living remain significant in developing countries, rapid urbanization in these countries has created a great need for information related to different sizes of urban areas. This is when classification by size of locality can usefully supplement the urban-rural dichotomy or even replace it depending on the circumstances in the country.

Source: UN Statistical Commission, Principles and Recommendations for a Vital Statistics System, 2013

S

Sexual Harassment

Sexual harassment is sex-based behavior that is unwelcome and offensive to its recipient. For sexual harassment to exist, two conditions must be present: 1) Quid Pro Quo, when a job benefit - such as a pay rise, promotion, or even continued employment - is made conditional on the victim acceding to demands to engage in some form of sexual behavior and 2) hostile working environment in which the conduct creates conditions that are intimidating or humiliating for the victim.

Behavior that qualifies as sexual harassment includes the following:

  • Physical: Physical violence; touching; unnecessary close proximity
  • Verbal: Comments and questions about appearance, life-style, sexual orientation; offensive phone calls
  • Non-verbal: Whistling; sexually-suggestive gestures; display of sexual materials

Source: International Labor Organization (ILO)

Small to Medium Enterprises
Businesses with fewer than 50 employees are defined as small. Businesses with more than 50 but fewer than 250 employees are defined as medium.
Smallholder farmers

Smallholder farmers are marginal and sub-marginal farm households, which own and/or cultivate less than two hectares of land. Common characteristics of smallholder farmers are that they have low access to technology, limited resources in terms of capital, skills, and risk management, depend on family labor for most activities, and have limited capacity in terms of storage, marketing, and processing.

Source: UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), Syngenta Foundation

Social Performance Management

Social Performance Management (SPM) is a practical approach that helps the MFI to look at the entire institution through a social lens, SPM guides the MFI in translating their “lofty” missions into Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-specific (SMART) social performance objectives. Social Performance Management involves the process of effectively collecting and using information in order to adapt and improve an organization's products and institutional systems so that every day operations can contribute directly to the long term goal of mission fulfillment. More information available at: http://www.mfc.org.pl/index_new.html

Source: Microfinance Center

Sole-proprietorship

An organization controlled by an individual owner.

Solidarity Group Lending

Solidarity Group lending refers to the use of groups for disbursement of funds and collection of repayment on loans to either the group as a whole or to the individual members of that group. Borrowers of such groups often bear joint and several liability for the repayment of all loans to the group and its members. This group liability may also determine credit decisions made by the institution. Solidarity Groups vary in the degrees to which they use groups for credit decisions, disbursement, collection, or to reduce credit risk. For this standard, loans are considered to be of the Solidarity Group methodology when some aspect of loan consideration depends on the group, including credit analysis, liability, guarantee, collateral, and loan size and conditions.

Source: Microfinance Information Exchange

Stationary fresh water bodies

Non-saline bodies of water located within terrestrial environments and un-connected to any tidal or estuarine water bodies.

Strict Nature Reserve

Strictly protected areas set aside to protect biodiversity and also possibly geological/geomorphical features, where human visitation, use and impacts are strictly controlled and limited to ensure protection of the conservation values. Such protected areas can serve as reference areas for scientific research and monitoring.

Source: International Union for Conservation of Nature

Supplier

Business that provides goods or services to an organization to help move a product or service from the organization to its customer.

Supporting Values/Services

Supporting Values/Services are the natural processes that maintain the other ecosystem services

  • Habitat: Natural or semi-natural spaces that maintain species populations and protect the capacity of ecological communities to recover from disturbances
  • Nutrient cycling: Flow of nutrients (e.g., nitrogen, sulfur, phosphorus, carbon) through ecosystems
  • Primary production: Formation of biological material by plants through photosynthesis and nutrient assimilation
  • Water cycling: Flow of water through ecosystems in its solid, liquid, or gaseous forms

Source: WRI

Sustainable Cultivation

Sustainable cultivation/farming practices commonly include: crop rotations that mitigate weeds, disease, insect and other pest problems; provide alternative sources of soil nitrogen; reduce soil erosion; and reduce risk of water contamination by agricultural chemicals; pest control strategies that are not harmful to natural systems, farmers, their neighbors, or consumers. This includes integrated pest management techniques that reduce the need for pesticides by practices such as scouting, use of resistant cultivars, timing of planting, and biological pest controls; increased mechanical/biological weed control; more soil and water conservation practices; and strategic use of animal and green manures; use of natural or synthetic inputs in a way that poses no significant hazard to man, animals, or the environment.

Source: USDA Agricultural Dictionary. For more information see http://www.nal.usda.gov/afsic/pubs/terms/srb9902.shtml#toc2

Sustainable stewardship

Sustainable stewardship is a holistic approach intended over the long-term to: enhance environmental quality and the natural resource base; make the most efficient use of nonrenewable resources and integrate, where appropriate, natural biological cycles and controls; sustain the economic viability of working landscapes; and enhance the quality of life for those living and working on the land, and society as a whole.

Stewardship refers to land management practices, as opposed to legal restrictions on the use of the land. Economic activities that take place on sustainably stewarded land may include sustainable farming, ranching, forestry, and recreation. More specifically:

  • Sustainable cultivation: see Sustainable Cultivation.
  • Sustainable forestry: Stewardship and use of forests and forest lands that maintains biodiversity, productivity and regeneration capacity and fulfills relevant ecological, economic and social functions. Land use practices typical of sustainable forestry include minimal and highly controlled clear cutting, replanting with native species, and conservation-oriented management of old growth forests. (Source: FAO)
  • Sustainable ranching: Ranching practices and use of grazing lands that enhance the environmental quality and natural resource base, for example maintain biodiversity, productivity and regeneration capacity, and fulfill relevant ecological, economic and social functions. Sustainable ranching practices include managing grazing patterns to reduce surface compaction, water runoff, and maintain diverse plant communities, riparian habitat, stream stability, soil structure and nutrient cycles.
  • Sustainable recreation: Hectares open to recreational use, including hunting, fishing, hiking, biking, paddling, winter sports, and other activities in ways that ensure long term maintenance of biodiversity and natural resources. Sustainable recreation management practices include educating visitors on appropriate practices to limit their impact and identifying carrying capacities for visitors and visitor activities such that environmental impacts are within limits of acceptable change, which may include limiting the number of visitors, planning campsites, restricting vehicles. (See for example Inglis, J. et al. (2005) Best Practice in Strategic Park Management: Towards an Integrated Park Management Model. Sustainable Tourism CRC.)

T

Temporary Employee

Temporary employees are defined as seasonal and contract employees. Seasonal employees are primarily used in agriculture or fisheries. Contracted employees are generally hired for the completion of a specific task.

Toxic Pollutants

Materials contaminating the environment that cause death, disease, or birth defects in the organisms that ingest or absorb them. The quantities and the length of exposure necessary to cause these effects can vary widely.

For reference, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) provides a comprehensive list of Toxic Substances, found here: http://www.epa.gov/tri/trichemicals/list%20changes/TRIChemicalListChanges120110.pdf

Source: United Nations Statistics Division

Tundra

Tundra is the term applied to the treeless regions beyond the limit of the boreal forest and above the altitudinal limit of trees in high mountain ranges. The timber line which separates forest and tundra in alpine regions corresponds to an arctic transition zone in which trees increasingly are restricted to the most favorable sites. The vegetative cover of the tundra is low, dwarfed, and often forms a complete mat. These plant characteristics are in large part the result of adaptation to the physical environment one of the most extreme on Earth, where temperatures may average above freezing only 1 or 2 months out of the year, where strong desiccating winds may occur, where great variation in solar energy received may exist, and where permafrost is encountered almost everywhere beneath the vegetative cover.

The Anderson Land Classification System includes the following subcategories of Tundra: shrub and brush tundra, herbaceous tundra, bare ground tundra, wet tundra, and mixed tundra.

Source: Anderson Land Classification System

U

Urban

Urban areas are characterized by higher population density and vast human features in comparison to areas surrounding it. Use guidelines as defined by the area’s national government.

For the UN's Demographic Yearbook listing of national definitions of "Urban", as of 2005, see http://unstats.un.org/unsd/demographic/sconcerns/densurb/Defintion_of%20Urban.pdf

Urban/Built-up Land

Urban or Built-up Land is comprised of areas of intensive use with much of the land covered by structures. Included in this category are cities, towns, villages, strip developments along highways, transportation, power, and communications facilities, and areas such as those occupied by mills, shopping centers, industrial and commercial complexes, and institutions that may, in some instances, be isolated from urban areas.

Source: Anderson Land Classification System

V

Very Poor

The very poor are people living below a recognized absolute extreme poverty line. Commonly recognized extreme poverty lines include (1) persons in the bottom 50% of those living below the poverty line established by the national government, (2) persons living on less than US $1.00 per day (technically $1.08 per day per capita at 1993 Purchasing Power Parity (PPP) or on less than US $1.25 per day at 2005 PPP), (3) the USAID extreme poverty line, which varies by country.

Commonly used tools to help determine the absolute poverty level of clients:

  • Progress Out of Poverty Index (PPI): The PPI scorecards use a small set of simple, easily observable, and objective indicators to estimate the share of clients who are below an established poverty line.
  • USAID Poverty Assessment Tool: The USAID Poverty Assessment Tool is a set of country-specific surveys used to predict the prevalence of extreme poverty within a group of people.
  • FINCA Client Assessment Tool (FCAT): The FCAT employs a set of 13 individual screens to record income sources and dependents, monthly household expenditures, and daily per capita expenditures and poverty levels.
Village / Self-Help Group Lending

Village Banking and Self Help Groups refer to methodologies that provide access to credit and savings services through group or community managed associations. Loans from microfinance institutions (MFIs) are considered of this type when the MFI lends to the group, which in turn uses this money to lend to its members. Loans to the Village Bank or Self Help Group are made under the collective guarantee of the group. Loans may also be made from the retained profits of the group or from group members' savings. These loans are considered internal to the Village Bank or Self Help Group.

Source: Microfinance Information Exchange

Vocational/Technical Training

A comprehensive term referring to those aspects of the educational process involving deliberate interventions in the study of technologies and related sciences to bring about learning that supports the acquisition of practical skills, attitudes, understand and knowledge that make people more productive in designated areas of economic activity (e.g., economic sectors, occupations, specific work tasks).

Adapted from UNESCO-UNEVOC, 2013

Voluntary Depositors

The total number of individuals who currently have funds on deposit with a microfinance institution (MFI) on a voluntary basis, i.e. they are not required to maintain the deposit account to access a loan. This number applies only to deposits that are held by the MFI, not to those deposits held in other institutions by the MFI’s clients.

Volunteer

Individual that works for the organization without payment or other formal compensation for their time or services.

W

Waste Generation

Total weight of all materials disposed during the reporting period.

Wastewater

Water that carries wastes from homes, businesses, and industries. This is usually a mixture of water and dissolved or suspended solids.

Source: United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)

Water areas

Water areas include streams and canals, lakes, reservoirs, and bays and estuaries.

Source: Anderson Land Classification System

Water Conservation

Water conservation refers to efforts made to reduce the total amount of water needed to carry out current processes or tasks. The term does not include overall reduction in water consumption from reduced organizational activities (e.g., partial outsourcing of production).

Conservation efforts include organizational or technological innovations that allow a defined process or task to consume water more efficiently. This includes improved water management practices, process redesign, the conversion and retrofitting of equipment (e.g., water-efficient equipment), or the elimination of unnecessary water use due to changes in behavior.

Water Reuse

Water Reuse is defined as reclaiming and using previously used water for beneficial purposes. Reused water usually doesn’t need treatment to be reused. For example, reusing water for cooling purposes in power generation, etc.

Source: World Resources Institute (WRI)

Wetland

Wetlands are those areas where the water table is at, near, or above the land surface for a significant part of most years. The hydrologic regime is such that aquatic or hydrophytic vegetation usually is established, although alluvial and tidal flats may be nonvegetated. Wetlands frequently are associated with topographic lows, even in mountainous regions. Examples of wetlands include marshes, mudflats, and swamps situated on the shallow margins of bays, lakes, ponds, streams, and manmade impoundments such as reservoirs. They include wet meadows or perched bogs in high mountain valleys and seasonally wet or flooded basins, playas, or potholes with no surface-water outflow. Shallow water areas where aquatic vegetation is submerged are classed as open water and are not included in the Wetland category.

Extensive parts of some river flood plains qualify as Wetlands, as do regularly flooded irrigation overflow areas. These do not include agricultural land where seasonal wetness or short-term flooding may provide an important component of the total annual soil moisture necessary for crop production. Areas in which soil wetness or flooding is so short-lived that no typical wetlands vegetation is developed properly belong in other categories. Cultivated wetlands such as the flooded fields associated with rice production and developed cranberry bogs are classified as Agricultural Land.

Uncultivated wetlands from which wild rice, cattails, or wood products, and so forth are harvested, or wetlands grazed by livestock, are retained in the Wetland category. Wetland areas drained for any purpose belong to other land use and land cover categories such as Agricultural Land, Rangeland, Forest Land, or Urban or Built-up Land. When the drainage is discontinued and such use ceases, classification may revert to Wetland. The Anderson Land Classification System includes two subcategories of Wetland, Forested and Nonforested.

Source: Anderson Land Classification System

Written premium

The insurance premium registered on the books at the time a policy is issued and paid for.

Source: Glossary of Insurance & Risk Management Terms