Microfinance in India - Bridging the divide
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And this is exactly what I wanted to see when I set up the organisation over 10 years ago. Something that really sets MicroLoan Foundation apart from other MFIs, is the extensive and participatory training and on-going mentoring MicroLoan provides the women, alongside its loans.
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This training and support ensures that the women are educated on a whole host of important topics such as marketing and budgeting, ensuring that their businesses are a success. We do not make a profit, and the interest we charge exists only to cover the costs of delivering our services which, as we operate in isolated rural environments, are high.
The missing links: Familiarity with new financial tools, and products and programs that can scale
No single intervention can overcome global poverty, but I believe that small steps, and small amounts of money, targeted in the right way, can make a huge impact. Despite its criticism, the huge positive impact that microfinance can have is still being recognised, with philanthropists, social investors, local banks, governments and international institutions setting up programmes Forbes. I think this is testament to the potential for microfinance to continue encouraging development globally over the next decade. Why not join one of the many open collaboration Challenges we are running to address pressing global issues?
Join your peers, share your passion and add your expertise! Our Challenges are made possible thanks to our Supporters and Partners. If you'd be interested in supporting a current or new Challenge, please get in touch. I agree that it is vitally important to help women trapped in a cycle of poverty, and also that we should be supporting the development of entire communities. Computers 4 Africa are trying to break the poverty cycle by bridging the digital divide.
We believe it is essential that Africa be brought into a technological age so they can function in a global society. By providing people in Africa with computers we are trying to help them support themselves, improving education and career paths. There is a savings revolution taking place across the world, with 7 million people becoming members of local savings groups, of which CARE facilitates 3 million. Savings groups have been proven to help secure and stabilise volatile incomes and can also provide a stepping stone for investment in small enterprises to grow household incomes.
Women involved in savings groups have also experienced increased confidence and sense of self-worth, freedom of mobility within their communities and financial independence.
A striking example is our Banking on Change programme, which goes beyond microfinance and demonstrates that no woman is too poor to save. To find out more please click here to read our Breaking the Barriers to Financial Inclusion report. Peter……how do you ensure capital appreciation in high inflation environments like Malawi? How sustainable is the model if the MFI charges sub-economic rates of interest?
Now to resource the Trust we initiate profit earning social enterprises that are people centred hence the formation of Rava Exclusive Honey Clubs, just to explain before I go further, I have studied in my community that lack of development or self improvement starts with lack of confidence in oneself due to ignorance.
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First and foremost people do not realize power is within oneself, They think help only comes from others and not themselves, a job has to be offered by someone otherwise there is no way of creating income. Women are really worse off having been disenfranchised by the traditional system and made to feel subservient to men since birth. Now having said that no amount of funding will change that mind set.
Rava which means Read aims to work and change that mind set but at the same time this cannot be done in a vacuum. First contact has to be made with women groups and Rava Exclusive Honey Clubs facilitates first point contact where 10 Langsthrope bee hives are assigned to a club of say 20 women in a rural setting and they are shown how to look after them.
This preexisting high risk reduces the incentive for lenders to provide larger loans. The uncertain political climate also makes these loans riskier since small businesses are often affected by shutdowns and damage caused by frequent political disturbances.
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In addition, some nonbank financial companies focus on niche segments within the missing middle, such as loans for commercial vehicles or asset acquisition. In rural areas of India, rural banks cater to micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises MSMEs , and their experience with loans to the missing middle is mixed. Moreover, with nine MFIs receiving small bank licenses, the high-touch microfinance model has the potential to be combined with the resources of banks.
All large MFIs and banks in India report to credit bureaus so information is being shared, preventing multiple lending and helping first-time borrowers build credit histories. However, as lending to the missing middle segment is new, market studies and experimentation with various lending models may be required. Unlike in the case of group lending, variations in models in different regions of the country may be required, as business practices may vary.
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In Pakistan, although the overall penetration of the microfinance sector is low, some microfinance banks have begun providing larger microenterprise loans and a few are even scaling up their products after initial success. A positive factor is that a credit bureau has been set up. Moreover, recent efforts such as the establishment of the Pakistan Microfinance Investment Company for mobilizing investors to channel funds into MFIs may help to increase funding for MFIs, and should also eventually reduce the interest rate on microfinance loans.
However, political disturbances and electricity shortages are risk factors that could affect the performance of microenterprise loans. Other factors that have contributed to success include acceptance of notional security, such as original land documents and identity cards; separation of the credit function from the sales function within the lending organization; developing in-house model cash-flow statements for specific sectors that are commonly financed; and creation of forward and backward linkages for potential customers i.
These measures call for upfront investments in employee time before obtaining any financial returns from the enterprise; indeed, they require top management commitment to building a robust microenterprise lending model. In the long term, the benefits of this strategy can pay off through repeat business as well as savings in recovery and loan write-off costs. MFIs are well placed to expand their services to the missing middle segment given the high-touch nature of lending involved and guidance required. Many, for years, have based their operations on a one-size-fits-all group model, so moving to individual lending requires considerable investment in training and developing new management information systems.
Demand for finance by missing middle enterprises is high in Bangladesh, India, and Pakistan. Their governments should address their needs by supporting lenders with more funding options, making reporting to credit bureaus compulsory, funding financial literacy campaigns targeted at microenterprises, introducing measures to reduce the use of cash-based transactions, and making registration of enterprises easy and universal. The result is a software tool called Micro Financer, specially designed to manage large volumes of data with the flexibility of creating different kinds of loans and savings types of accounts.
And then can a dotcom be far behind? We have povertyfighters.
And as the Asia Pacific Region Microcredit Summit proceeds towards its goal to examine the accomplishments in the area, the latest innovations, the possibilities of expanding its reach, you know IT is a vital component.