Monday, October 17, 2005

Calcutta, Oct. 16: Global micro-financiers Unitus and ACCION International have formed an alliance for India to reach out to 15 million households here within the next 10 years.

?While almost 10 per cent of the world population are benefited by micro-finance, it reaches only 1-2 per cent population in India. So, it is our endeavour to accelerate its growth in the country in association with local partners,? said Geoff Davis, president and chief executive officer, Unitus.

Unitus has recently established its India centre in Bangalore whileACCION is in the process of setting up its operations in India, mentioned Davis.

Unitus is a micro-finance accelerator, which acts as a social venture capitalist. It has seven partners worldwide serving more than 422,000 poor clients and is based in Redmond, Washington, US.

?We will identify high potential NGOs engaged in micro-finance works and speed their growth through grants, capacity building consulting, and capital investments,? Davis explained.

Unitus is currently working with five micro-finance institutions in India, namely SKS, BSS, ASA-GV, Bandhan and Grameen Koota.?We have developed an acquisition model for the finance organisations in the country, whereby they can develop capacity and also acquire small non-banking finance companies (NBFC), transfer and combine portfolios and turn into an NBFC from an NGO,? said Davis.

He also said ACCION would complement the work of Unitus by convincing large financial institutions to disburse more micro-credit and set up profitable micro-finance arm. ?They will assist commercial entities such as banks and finance companies in extending micro-credit products and services and providing technical assistance and training,? said Davis.

?At present, most of our work is in the southern parts of the country and our total exposure in the country is $10 million,? he added. However, the Unitus centre is now keen on establishing relations in Mumbai, Delhi and some rural parts of Uttar Pradesh.

As the world?s second most populous country, and with a significant section of the population living on less than $2 per day, India stands uniquely poised to capitalise on increased access to micro-finance services, Davis noted.

The microfinance partners of ACCION International are providing loans as low as $100 to poor women and men entrepreneurs in 20 countries in Latin America, the Caribbean and sub-Saharan Africa and in the US. Since 1992, ACCION and its partners have disbursed $7.6 billion in micro loans to more than 4.7 million borrowers, 65 percent of whom are women.

Source: The Telegraph (link opens in a new window)