There’s little argument that India has become the world’s testbed for both financial inclusion and social enterprise exploration and experimentation. Two studies that came across the NextBillion transom in recent weeks take a step back to explore the quickly germinating networks underlying both, as well as identify the gaps.
The German Development Corporation (GIZ) in India launched a study mapping the social enterprise ecosystem in India. Titled Enablers for Change - A Market Landscape of the Indian Social Enterprise Ecosystem, the report presents a market assessment of the incubators and impact investors in the region, while identifying and defining the sector-specific, geographic and service-related gaps.
The study was generated for GIZ by Ernst & Young Pvt Ltd, (EY) and builds on an earlier GIZ commissioned study by EY called Responsible Finance A Catalyst for Responsible Business.
It notes that there is:
"a blurring of the lines between what types of organizations constitute an incubator as opposed to an impact investor, as investors increasingly are offering support services to potential investees to get them investment ready."
But the study also serves up several reccomendations for improvement.
Meanwhile, the New America Foundation this week unveiled the study From Social Banking to Financial Inclusion: Understanding the Potential for Financial Services Innovation in India, the third in a series of reports by the Savings for the Poor Innovation and Knowledge Network (SPINNAKER) and funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Researchers sought to understand the diversity of financial and savings institutions serving the poor, and identify what makes financial products accessible for low-income households. Based on a review of 146 savings products and interviews with nearly 30 financial institutions, the report makes advocates the financial sector:
Move beyond just financial access and toward developing savings accounts that, according to market research, the poor have a demonstrated desire for;
Give incentives to financial institutions to promote low-income focused accounts;
Link to ongoing government initiatives such as biometric identification, government-to-person payments, and electronic banking channels.
Obviously, for India's leadership role in social entrepreneurship development and financial inclusion to continute to flourish, the constructive criticism offered in these studies should be considered, if not heeded.
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