Fostering Change By Bridging The Gap
Since its inception some forty-odd years ago, microfinance has been a game-changer. The model of providing micro-credit to the impoverished has helped numerous people move out of the clutches of the loan sharks and brought self-esteem back to the hapless.
As a result, microcredit has been recognized as one of the most effective ways of financial inclusion and alleviation of poverty, not only in India or the Indian sub-continent which has got a new identity as South Asia in recent times, but also throughout the world. The development model, which was first adopted by Grameen Bank of Bangladesh in the 1970s, has proven its efficacy in more than 100 countries over the past 4 decades. It helps the mainstream financial system in getting rid of the vested circles by resolving information problems, eliminating the intrinsic difficulties in enforcing contracts, and most importantly, by reducing transactions costs.
No wonder, therefore, that today the world has witnessed an exponential growth of the micro financial services blended with continuous diversification of products and clients. The market today has extended much beyond the boundaries of conventional microfinance. Institutions like the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund have acknowledged that extension of the Microcredit market has reduce poverty and fostered social change.
The primary lesson that Village Financial Services Ltd. (VFS) has taught me is that, the task of a Micro Finance Institution (MFI) begins with re-orientation of its perception. Financial inclusion should be its priority. Priority cannot be, I reiterate, cannot be, 100% recovery of loans. In keeping with this doctrine over the years, VFS has emerged as a significant and sustainable provider of a dependable banking system to the impoverished across the states of West Bengal, Bihar, Jharkhand, Odisha, Tripura, Assam, Sikkim and Uttarakhand, continuously bridging the gap between the formal banking sector and the un-banked poor.
While financing the poor, VFS ensures their sustenance through a well-defined set of social indicators. Training in skills development is provided along with market linkage supports. These enhance the financial capabilities of those who take loans and make an enduring and permanent impact on their lives. The benefits have reached more than 500,000 families to date.
Keeping in mind the nefarious Ponzi schemes which spring into existence out of nowhere, and the natural weaknesses of the over-indebted, VFS emphasizes on Financial Literacy of its beneficiaries. Training and Awareness Programs are conducted to instill basic financial prudence among them and develop a social capital. As a proud recipient of the esteemed ‘Transparency Seal’ awarded by ftransparency.org, VFS cherishes its ethical practices in the world of micro finance and strive for a resplendent tomorrow.
Dr. Kuldip Maity