Microfinance Monday

Microfinance Monday: Uncertainty Ahead

June 4, 2012

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With the Euro Zone facing ever increasing pressure and manufacturing rates down in China, the importance of the next 6 weeks is heightened not only in the eyes of Europe but of the rest of the connected global economy. While much of the debate involves national debt, austerity measures and credit ratings of many countries, this is not to say that leaders of organizations in other industries should pay no attention.

The NASDAQ is already reporting a softening of Indian stocks, yet the effects will initially be centralized on IT and oil-related industries.

As we’ve seen in the past, such massive global financial challenges leave few untouched. The rise in fuel costs will undoubtedly trickle down to put pressure on the poor who toe the poverty line depending on the price of fuel. How will this affect repayment rates of microfinance institutions? Read more »

Microfinance Monday: Can technology help trim MFI costs?

April 30, 2012

A couple months back, we highlighted the inability of Indian Microfinance Institutions to accept deposits as a major roadblock to their growth and sustainability model. A litany of roadblocks stand in the way of passing the Micro Finance Institutions (Development and Regulation) Act, with deposit taking appearing to be a deal breaker.

With the RBI taking a hardline approach on their stance, methods of improving MFI profitability have begun to take an interesting turn.

While most efforts to date have been focused on increasing the revenue side of the profitability equation for MFIs in India, the lack of progress from a policy level is forcing the hands of MFIs to act in other ways. There have been recent calls for compensation levels to be checked, but more importantly, to reduce operational costs within MFIs. Read more »

Microfinance Monday: Full steam ahead…for what?

March 26, 2012

Amid a damning report from one of the industry’s heavyweights, financial activity in the microfinance world is picking up, clearing the way for more opportunity – but at what cost?

David Roodman, one of the world’s foremost thinkers on microfinance, presented his newest book in a column last week that might appear to strike a spear through the heart of microfinance champions everywhere.

On current evidence, the best estimate of the average impact of microcredit on poverty is zero. So microcredit as a whole appears neither to live up to the hype nor justify the harshest attacks against it as modern usury. Microcredit does not appear to be the financial equivalent of cigarettes.

Well that’s good to hear! At least we’re not addicted to cancerous activity. Yet, the heart of what Roodman is getting at is something secretly feared by microfinance champions for years. Does it live up to the hype? Is this truly impactful? Read more »

Microfinance Monday: How to move forward from the failed SKS experiment

February 27, 2012

SKS Microfinance continues to dominate the news, and as usual none of it is positive. Last week analysts even began recommending shorting the stock.

The year began on an optimistic note for SKS, hoping to continue to distance themselves from the grisly suicides of borrowers in Andhra Pradesh in 2010. They have been publicly blamed for harassing borrowers for repayment and practicing usury. While the company has desperately tried to remove themselves from the state over the past year, new reports provide a rather damning insight into the interactions of SKS agents and those ill-fated borrowers. Read more »

Introducing Microfinance Monday

January 30, 2012

Today marks the last Monday of January and the first monthly Microfinance Monday on Rising Pyramid.  Each last Monday of the month, we’ll take a look at the growth and trends emerging from the microfinance industry.  We plan to offer a holistic and balanced look into an industry poised for a critical year.  Enjoy!

Time for Microfinance to Retool

As venture capitalists maintain their distance from MFIs and large for-profit organizations continue to report poor results, it is clear that now is the lull in the industry lifecycle where MFIs must go back, retool, and change the way  business is done while investors take a sideline role.

Microfinance’s reputation in the past few years alone has pushed the industry to its bounds and essentially made it too sexy too fast.  The rewards and opportunities that microfinance presented were overblown from both the investor and consumer side.  As bold MFIs drank the kool-aid, the IPOs began to trickle out, met with great surprise, trepidation, but spurred on by hopeful confidence. Read more »

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