SKS chief Vikram Akula cancelled his scheduled visit to Tufts University.
He was going to talk about this new book, A Fistful of Rice. It’s unfortunate that we won’t get to pick his brain regarding the debate generated by SKS’ recent IPO, and about the developing situation in Andhra Pradesh (AP).
Meanwhile, two pieces worth checking out:
- An Intellicap White Paper, Indian Microfinance Crisis of 2010: Turf War or a Battle of Intentions?, that analyzes the crisis in AP. It’s timely, and a great read. How’s this for context:
If we may be permitted a whimsical moment, the Indian microfinance story offers an irresistible parallel to a familiar Bollywood plot: in the Indian microfinance potboiler, the SHG model is the elder brother in an Indian joint family while the MFIs play the part of an aggressive younger brother. The elder brother struggles to uphold tradition and retain his leadership position, while the maverick younger brother tries to break free (using new financial and technology tools), often overenthusiastically, and sometimes recklessly, in pursuit of the same goals. This script bears many similarities to a classic Bollywood family drama. Unfortunately, the conflict between the two brothers often leaves the family destitute. As the AP microfinance drama plays out in the national media and the world watches, it is mainly the poor, forced into choices not of their making, who will suffer.
This paper strengthens the uneasy feeling many were having – that the regulations are more good politics than good policy. Barring door-to-door servicing – really?
- An Indian Express article, Andhra’s small-debt trap, that reports on the reality faced by micro-loan borrowers in a village in AP. Quite important to keep the caveats on media reports mentioned in the Intellicap White Paper in mind when reading this. Some of the anecdotes mentioned in the article are quite disturbing – fearful female borrowers assembling outside their houses at 7 a.m. sharp for the loan recovery agents to show up and having to pay late fees if they were even 5 mins late, 147 of the 150 households having multiple loans, and the men stopping going to work as farm laborers on getting loans instead of redirecting income towards investments.