Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Out of Focus: KAS Foundation

Business Standard focuses on a non so well known Microfinance institution - Kathir Foundation, KAS Foundation and Jaggannatha Financial Services - all started by Kathiresan, an ex-employee of ICICI Bank. This microfinance institution operates in Tamil Nadu, Pondicherry, Andhra Pradesh, Orissa, Chattisgarh, Maharashtra and West Bengal.

The range of services offered by them is interesting, all through ICICI or subsidiaries. In addition to opening savings bank accounts they have managed to offer medical insurance and micro-mutual fund SIP (systematic investment plan). A monthly investment of just Rs. 50 on mutual fund seems a cool idea. Some of the equity funds are offering excellent returns these days in India. The poor have rarely had access to the capital markets.

Interview with Jayshree Vyas of SEWA

Soumitra Trivedi interviews Jayashree Vyas, Managing Director of SEWA Bank in Business Standard.

SEWA, unlike other micro finance institutions, is a registered bank, regulated by RBI. This is both good and bad - SEWA can tap low cost funds, NBFCs cannot. But the banking norms have to be followed which are stricter.

Vyas feels, total poverty removal is not possible without government intervention and microfinance alone can not make that happen.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Unitus announces three partnerships in India

Details in the press release here.

The partners are:
Vardan Trust

Solar power through micro credit

Reuters reports that an NGO run by Yunus, Grameen Shakti, is offering solar lighting equipment in rural Bangladesh, with financing through micro credit.

The solar lighting system costs between 25,000 taka ($360) to 65,000 taka ($940). About 70% of Bangladesh households are without electricity.

A similar project, fronted however by United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), is happening in India. Here, UNEP provides grants that reduces the cost of financing of the equipment to the end users, in cooperation with two leading Indian public sector banks - Canara Bank and Syndicate Bank. More details on the project are available here.

Would Grameen be the target of political parties?

Asif discusses what the political parties - Awami League and BNP - target Yunus' Grmaeen Bank in this blog entry: Yunus’ Foray and the Image of Microcredit.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Citibank to buy SKS loans

SKS Microfinance is one of the fastest growing microfinance institution in India, which is getting decent funding from venture capitalists. It has just closed a deal with Citibank, where Citibank will buy the SKS portfolio of Rs. 180 crores (roughly USD 44 million), while SKS will service the microloans. Grameen Foundation will provide limited guarantees.


Monday, May 07, 2007

Indian Microfinance Bill not adequate

Indian Minister of State for Commerce Jairam Ramesh has said that the proposed draft of the Microfinance bill is not upto the mark.

In one of my earlier blogs, I had mentioned that there was some opposition to the current version of the bill.

I have not been able to find an online version of the draft bill so far.

Mint, the new Indian Business Daily, has an article that cautions about the clause that allows anyone who can collect upto Rs. 500,000 in total to be a Microfinance Bank.

Yunus abandons political plans

Nobel Peace Prize winner Muhammad Yunus had started a political party couple of months back, called Nagorik Shakti. As the general election was getting closer in Bangladesh, the bickering between the two main political parties - BNP and Awami League - resulted in a political stalemate. Upset with this situation Yunus felt he could convert the groundswell of support he had into a political movement.

However he has now decided to call it off, after finding that he is not getting sufficient support from those who initially welcomed his move.

I wouldn't take the simplest of the explanations, as offered by Yunus. His plans to scrap the party may have something to do with the current military backed interim administration. More truth may come out in the days to come.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Unitus $5 viral web campaign

Unitus is running a web campaign, asking people to donate $5, to help them fund their micro-credit partners around the World. In a blog entry, they explain what $5 can do.
Currently, it takes Unitus less than $5 to help our microfinance partners build the capacity to serve one new micro-entrepreneur with life-changing financial services. (We get this number by dividing our total budget spent per month by the total number of new clients added by our microfinance partners each month.)
So your $5 can help Unitus add one new micro-entrepreneur. To donate, go to Unitus.