CERISE was founded in 1998 by five of the leading French organizations supporting microfinance around the world: CIDR, GRET, IRAM, IRC/SupAgro, and CIRAD. CERISE started as peer-learning platform, to promote knowledge sharing among the founding members.

In 2012, CERISE registered as a not-for-profit association dedicated to ethical finance.

Today, the Board is comprised of four of the founding members, represented by their organizations (CIDR, GRET, IRAM) or as individuals.

Monique Cohen is the President of CERISE since March 2017. International expert on microfinance, Monique Cohen worked on impact issues for USAID before founding in 2002 Microfinance Opportunities, organization dedicated to financial education for low-income populations.