Monday, January 29, 2007

Micro Finance

Two-day microfinance conference to be held in Delhi
India Infoline News Service / Mumbai Jan 15, 2007 16:01
It intends to focus on an interface between the requirements of farmers, artisans, migrant and wage labourers and the smooth delivery of long-term sustained financial services
Sa-Dhan, an association of Community Development Finance Institutions in India, is holding the sixth annual microfinance policy conference “Greater Inclusion: Possibilities and Prospects” at the India Habitat Centre, New Delhi, on 17th and 18th January. The proposed conference intends to focus on an interface between the requirements of traditional and occupational groups like farmers, artisans, migrant and wage labourers etc. and the smooth delivery of long-term sustained financial services such as credit, savings, insurance, pension and money transfer services to them. The 2-day conference is being sponsored by SIDBI, NABARD, Grameen Foundation, Canara Bank, LIC, SBI, ICICI Bank.
The potential size of microfinance services seekers in India is estimated to be nearly 250 million people or nearly 75 million households out of whom around 60 million are rural and 15 million are urban households. Among the rural poor, 50% are landless, 43% are from scheduled castes and tribes, 43% are wage earners, and in 66% of families, most of the adults are illiterate. In the context of increasing rural migration to urban India, the urban poor are becoming a fastest growing section, as by 2010, they will constitute a large portion of the poor.
According to Ela R Bhatt, Chair Emeritus, Sa-Dhan, “The outreach of microfinance is growing rapidly in recent years in India with microfinance initiatives in terms of cumulative households reaching between 38 million-42 million households across the country. But this is much below the desired level of financial inclusion, which is the major policy issue in developing as well as in the developed nations. Moreover, while the forces of globalization have helped some sectors in expanding its horizon, it has also led to exclusion of the poor and marginalized. The consequences of this exclusion are manifested in various sorts of distress and socio-economic unrest in low income segment especially in rural areas and the agricultural sector.” Hence, it is essential to redefine the approach for financial inclusion by placing and integrating livelihood options and social security concerns of the low income segment up front.”
The 2-day conference will explore the strategies for a more inclusive, and coordinated effort between governmental bodies, formal banking system, corporate houses and the microfinance sector for greater financial inclusion in sharing the responsibility of development. It will also look at the integration of efforts of the microfinance sector with livelihoods promotion and discuss the challenges concerning the transaction costs for developing innovative and need-based products to remain people centric in this process.
Eminent speakers at the two-day conference include Sharad Pawar (Minister Agriculture, Govt of India), Dr. Montek Singh Ahluwalia (Deputy Chair, Planning Commission), Pawan Kumar Bansal (Minister of State, Finance Govt of India), Vinod Rai (Secretary, Financial Sector, Ministry of Finance), Usha Thorat (Dy Governor, RBI), Ela R Bhatt (Chair Emeritus, Sa-Dhan), Dr. Abusaleh Shariff (Chief Economist, NCAER), Vijay Mahajan (Member, Financial Inclusion Committee, Govt of India), Dr. A Vaidyanathan (Professor Emeritus MIDS & CDS), Rajiv Pratap Rudy (Former Minister of State for Commerce & Industry, Independent Charge), Margaret Alva (Gen Sec, All India Congress Committee), Dr. Vikram Akula (Founder & CEO, Swayam Krishi Sangam), M Balachandran (CMD, Bank of India), Dr V S Vyas (Professor Emeritus, IDS, Jaipur), Rakesh Rewari (DMDr, SIDBI) and Dr K G Karmakar (MD, NABARD) among others.
The conference will have participants who are key policy makers, bureaucrats, bankers, insurance experts, donors, practitioners, academicians, researchers, international experts, microfinance practitioners and SHG Leaders. The women SHG leaders will share their experience on financial inclusion and the livelihood challenges.
The conference will conclude with the release of the “VOLUNTARY MUTUAL CODE OF CONDUCT” in order to conclude the year long consultation with various stakeholders to bring more attention to the client requirements focusing on the governance aspects of the MFIs. It will be issued by Vinod Rai (Secretary, Finance Sector, MoF).

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