Finding Novel Ways to Support India’s Poor

Vikram Akula 37, SKS Micro
finance Founder & CEO,
Receives TIME Magazine’s 100
Most Influential People.
He holds a BA from Tufts, an MA from
Yale and Ph.D. from the University of
Chicago, where his dissertation focused on
poverty alleviation strategies.
Vikram was honored for his vision and
leadership as the Founder and CEO of SKS
Micro finance, one of the world’s fastest
rowing micro finance institutions. As a
pioneer in the micro finance industry, he
founded SKS Micro finance in 1998 with a
mission of empowering the poor to
become economically self-reliant by
providing financial services in a
sustainable manner. SKS is, at present, one
of the fastest growing micro finance
organizations in the world, having
disbursed over Rs 240 crores in loans to
221,000 women clients in poor regions of
5 states in India. “I accept this award on
behalf of 221,000 poor women SKS
members across the country who struggle
everyday to overcome poverty and inspire
s with their courage, They are the true
heroes,” remarked Vikram as he accepted
the honor. “It was humbling to be among
so many people who are considered among
the greatest and most influential minds in the world today,” he added.
Vikram, along with Nandan Nilekani, represent the sole two Indians to
be honored by Time Magazine. Vikram has dedicated much of his
professional life to addressing India’s poverty. Prior to launching SKS,
ikram was a Fulbright Scholar in India, during which he coordinated an
action-research project on providing micro finance for food security.
He has also worked as a community organizer with the Deccan
Development Society in Andhra Pradesh and as a researcher with the
orld watch Institute, where he wrote articles on poverty and
development.
Borrowers take loans for a range of income-generating activities,
including livestock, agriculture, trade (such as vegetable vending), and
production (from basket weaving to pottery). SKS also offers interest
free loans for emergencies as well as life insurance to borrowers. Its
affiliate, SKS Education, provides education services to poor children,
including running a government-funded school for girls who have
dropped out of school.
SKS currently has 85 micro finance branches in the states of Andhra
Pradesh, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Orissa and Madhya Pradesh and will be launching in 5 more states of India this year in pursuit of its goal to reach 700,000 clients by March 2007. SKS Micro finance has a current portfolio of $25 million (Rs 90 crores) and a 98% on-time repayment rate.
In addition to rapid expansion, SKS leads the industry in technology innovation and transparency. It is one of the first MFIs in the world to have a fully-automated MIS that streamlines operations and helps reduce transaction costs. It also has set global standards for transparency, having twice received recognition in CGAP’s worldwide micro finance transparency competition. SKS has received numerous awards including the CGAP Pro-Poor Innovation Award, the ABN-AMRO/Planet Finance Process Excellence Award, the Digital Partners SEL Award, and the Grameen Foundation USA Excellence Award. SKS is the only MFI in India to receive the MIX Transparency Certification and was selected by Unitus as the most promising micro finance organization.

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