Whose Sustainability Counts?: BASIX's Long March from Microfinance to Livelihoods

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Kumarian Press, 2011 - Political Science - 286 pages
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Is microfinance failing to meet its promise?

Several recent events have undermined confidence in microfinance and microfinance institutions (MFIs). They range from the collapse of the microfinance industry in Andhra Pradesh, to the Bangladesh government’s dismissal of Grameen Bank President Muhammad Yunus, Nobel Prize–winner and venerated father of microcredit, to the increasing publicity about micro-loan debt bondage and debt-induced suicides of MFI clients in the subcontinent.

What do these crises signify for the future of microfinance? Are the basic principles of finance for the poor salvageable? Can the model be improved?

From its inception in 1996, BASIX—one of the largest microfinance institutions in India—has realized that focusing solely on loans will not improve the lives of its poor clients. Recognizing that the complex problems of poverty require complex solutions, it has melded financial services with livelihood development and institutional sustainability to achieve its goals, all the while maintaining impeccable ethical standards and practices of social inclusion that give voice to the poor who rely on the financial services BASIX provides them.

Malcolm Harper cuts through the cynicism and disillusionment about microfinance with his account of BASIX to show how the organization offers pathways for a revamped MFI of the future, one that responds to poor clients’ diverse needs equitably and effectively.

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About the author (2011)

Malcolm Harper taught at Cranfield School of Management until 1995, and since then has worked mainly in India. He has published on enterprise development and microfinance. He was Chairman of Basix Finance from 1996 until 2006, and is Chairman of M-CRIL, the microfinance credit rating agency and business development, and author of numerous books and articles. He is the co-editor of What's Wrong with Microfinance? (Practical Action, 2007).

Lalitha Iyer is the Senior Consultant at ThinkSoft Consultants Pvt. Ltd., and is a Director of Bhartiya Samruddhi Finance Limited (a member of the BASIX group).

Jane Rosser is a Senior Program Advisor in World Educationrsquo;s Africa Division. She primarily works with asset building programs and institutions in South Africa and Egypt in both the BDS and development finance sectors. Prior to joining World Education, Ms. Rosser was the the Deputy Representative of the Ford Foundation's New Delhi office and from 1992-1999 was responsible for its development finance and sustainable livelihoods portfolio.

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