Katherine Knotts

Freelance writer, editor & coach

My writing helps you share your insights and your story with your audience.
People on the frontlines of the fight for social justice have valuable insights about what's working (and what's not working). They're also chronically short on the time and skills needed to get those insights down on paper, so that you and I can benefit from them.

I write for NGOs, international networks, social businesses, social investors, technical service providers, rating agencies and global standard-setting bodies.

Organisations hire me to write books, case studies, technical guides and analysis. They also hire me to create website and promotional content. I pen the occasional op-ed. Individuals also engage me to ghostwrite their memoirs.

A small sample of my portfolio appears below.


The Business of Doing Good

Practical Action Publishing (2015)

This book, co-authored with Anton Simanowitz, considers the experience of one remarkable organisation in Cambodia and offers up key insights on how to make all social businesses work for customers, staff and the organisation alike.


Better data, better decisions

(Oikocredit, 2016)

A story about Oikocredit's Client Outcomes programme, which helps its partners take data-driven decisions to improve their social outcomes.
Small changes, big impact
(Oikocredit, 2014) This is a story about how even the smallest organisation can take simple steps to improve its social impact.
Putting values into practice
(Microfinance Centre, 2013) Considers the development and effectiveness of VF Azercredit's code of ethics.
Turning client focus into commercial success
Housing microfinance with construction technical assistance
(Oikocredit, 2013) This is the story of UGAFODE, a microfinance institution that, suffering from critical challenges in operational performance, harnessed a focus on clients to generate solid social and commerical returns.

(Habitat for Humanity, 2012) Assesses a holistic approach to housing microfinance at IMON Tajikistan.


Client default and delinquency: SPM solutions

(Social Performance Task Force, 2016)

Bad news landed on your desk this morning. The latest management report shows an alarming rise in client default–with more trouble coming, given increasing portfolio at risk (PAR) figures. So how can you safeguard your institutional sustainability and your social mission at the same time? And what does it mean to be the leader of a social business, when the business side of things is under so much pressure?

Low productivity: SPM solutions

(Social Performance Task Force, 2015)

Market competition is on the rise, and it’s keeping you awake at night. Sometimes it feels like you (and your staff) are running just to stand still. When you do finally fall asleep, you find yourself dreaming about marginal productivity improvements. Things could be better.

SPM Solutions to Operational Challenges

(Social Performance Task Force, 2016)

No matter what the operational issue keeping you awake at night, if you’re looking for a balanced and sustainable solution to a problem, the Universal Standards can help you. This note is part of a series of Guidance Notes called SPM to Address Operational Challenges—a series aimed at helping financial service providers (FSPs) use SPM to examine and solve critical operational problems. Each briefing will give you “client-centric questions” to support a more balanced diagnosis, as well as a list of the top resources you need to take action.

Convincing the skeptic

(Social Performance Task Force, 2015)

Organisational change can be hard, and you'll meet many critics along the way. This guidance note was written to help microfinance institutions overcome resistance from those skeptical of their social performance management agenda - whether from within or without.

Universal Standards for Social Performance Management: Implementation Guide

(Social Performance Task Force, 2013)

Contributing author (Chapters two and three). This guide is a comprehensive resource for microfinance practitioners that want to apply the Universal Standards for Social Performance Management to their organisational systems, to balance both social and financial returns.

Putting the 'social' into performance management: A practice-based guide for microfinance

(Imp-Act Consortium, 2009)

Contributing author (Introduction), conceptual editor (whole guide). Makes the case for a balanced approach to microfinance, and lays out an organisational performance management framework to achieve both social and financial goals.


Managing social performance: Towards a new "business as usual"

CGAP, 2016

When we first began, the Social Performance Task Force looked like two dozen people crammed into a small meeting room in Paris, trying to imagine what a different microfinance industry could look like, and how to bring about that vision of change. We began this radical conversation long before the IPOs and the Andra Pradeshes, because we saw that the industry was failing to deliver on its social mission. Ten years and about three thousand members later, we’ve successfully built a roadmap towards creating a financial services sector that serves the interests of clients, institutions, and investors alike. But what do we really mean when we say that? And what's next for the Task Force?

In praise of failure?

Medium, 2016

Let’s keep building the systems and standards we need to ensure the success of inclusive finance as a social business model. But isn’t it also time to start talking about failure?

Job-Seeker Employ Thyself? When a Small (Business) Solution Won’t Fix a Big Problem

Centre for Financial Inclusion, 2016

Rarely has a discussion on small business within the EU been had without
wheeling out the stock phrase “engine of growth”. I’ve done it; you’ve
done it. We’ve all done it. Policymakers do it too.

Drowning in debt: the growing threat to Cambodia's poor?

The Guardian Press, 2015

In a growing microfinance market, some Cambodians are juggling as many as six separate loans. How can microfinance institutions balance ethical concerns with commercial interest?

Responding to Needs and Wants in a Market-Driven Financial Institution

We need good organisations, not just good products

Centre for FInancial Inclusion, 2015.

“Customer centricity” is the new buzz in the microfinance industry. More and more financial service providers are recognizing that their success
is built on the success of their clients. But is it always "win-win"?
Pioneers Post, 2015.

What if your social enterprise provides a great product that helps lots
of people, but also has some unintended negative consequences? In this article, we argue that organisations must examine all of their systems and process to ensure that the best results are always achieved.