“Only 8 million of an estimated 80 million poor families in India are currently reached by microcredit. There is therefore great scope for the expansion of microcredit to reduce poverty in India.” said Professor Muhammad Yunus, the father of microcredit, in his inaugural address at the International Workshop on Grameen Generalized System, organized by Grameen Trust, Bangladesh and SHARE Microfin Ltd. Hyderabad, India on December 16-20,2004. The session was chaired by Dr. P. Kotaiah, former chairman of NABARD India.
Forty-three participants from nineteen organizations including Grameen partners in India, Grameen Foundation USA and Grameen Capital Fund, India and a student from Columbia University , USA attended the program. High officials of state government of Andhra Pradesh, and many NGO leaders, were also present at the inaugural session.
|From left to right) Udaia Kumar, Dr. P. Kotaiah , Prof. Yunus, and Prof. H.I. Latifee
The program was designed to provide the participants with an in-depth knowledge of the essentials of the Grameen Generalized System. The objective for such a workshop was to familiarize the partner projects with tools and techniques of GGS, including loan and savings products which have proven to be very effective both in terms of quality of the program as well as meeting the needs of the borrowers. Professor Latifee remarked in his welcome address that “Grameen Bank’s…journey from Grameen Classic System to Grameen Generalized System has been both challenging and a rewarding experience. It has always remained innovative to make microcredit system poverty focused, need based and sustainable.”
Various topics including the internal audit system of Grameen Bank and performance analysis of field office and staff were also discussed. Special emphasis was placed on the high growth business plan and loan portfolio quality of the new system.
The participants spent half a day observing operations of SHARE in the field. Managing Director, SHARE Microfin Ltd. Mr. Udaia Kumar presented "Experience of SHARE's rapid growth and high portfolio quality" where he mentioned that GB type micro finance has proven to be a powerful tool in addressing the issues of poverty. SHARE, one of the largest micro finance institutions in India, is currently working in 3997 villages through a network of 167 branches. It has disbursed collateral free loans totaling Rs. 582.97 crore to about 500,000 poor women, and reports a repayment rate of 100%.
Addressing a press conference during the workshop, Professor Yunus said if the microfinance programs were allowed to accept deposits, they need not depend on
donors. He also said that microfinancing was essential if the United Nations were to achieve its Millennium Development Goal (MDG) of halving extreme poverty in the world by the year 2015.
Professor Yunus also met with the Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh, Dr Rajashekhar Reddy in Hyderabad and discussed with him the urgent need for creating an enabling environment for microfinance to play its due role in the field of poverty alleviation. He said that Andhra Pradesh had the potential to become the first state in India to become poverty free. Professor Yunus also said that the state could take a leading role in India in eradicating poverty through microcredit.
Report by Alomgir Hossain