Nirantara Micro Finance Program
Trip Start Jul 26, 2008
64Trip End Sep 27, 2008
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The photos sequence you through the loan and repayment process - and many of the forms/reports involved.
With Nirantara - first loans are always $200 are for income generation (self employment) and for basically one year. Typically all loans are given out to all 10 members in a solidarity group at the same time. If one member is not there for the dispersement, typically all loans are held up. Because Nirantara is a new MFI and must achieve sustainability, interest rates are currently 30% declining balance - with an objective to get to 20% when critical mass is attained. After the successful repayment of the first loan (which is one year) borrowers qualify for a $300 second loan.
Weekly meetings are typically 15 minutes in length and focuses almost entirely upon the leader of each group paying the weekly amount for each of the borrowers in her group, each individual record book is updated, the master list is updated, money counted, etc. The 10 members of each solidarity group meet the night before the village meeting and the group leader collects all the individual payments in preparation for the next days meeting with the Nirantara Loan Officer
The most fun is always the dispersement and I had the privilege of handing out the loans to two different groups. All loans are first handed to the group leader and she in turn passes it on to the individual borrowers. This meeting is typically a long meeting with lots of final review of all documents and each member of each group signing off on all loans in their group.
The loan officers meet with their villages organizations from 7 to 11 in the morning. By 11:30 or so they are all in the office counting the money and filling in the summary information on the master chart. By 1:30 PM one of the loan officers puts all the money in a pouch and heads off to the bank - where the money is normally in the bank by 2 PM. By 4 PM the Bank electronically confirms all of the deposit and the Branch office reconciles the days books. This is all a very precise and cross checked process. There is absolutely no room or opportunity for someone to do some devious with the money.
Nirantara currently has 30 employees, 18 of which are loan officers and is staffing up as funds and critical mass allows
Nirantara serves the poor and very poor. It is not yet in a position to serve the destitute and will not loan to the non-poor.
Niranjan and Nirantara have established a good reputation in the community with many connections and supporters in the microfinance community. They compete with other MFI's, Self-Help Groups (subsidized by the Government) and Cooperatives.
The future of Nirantara and its work in serving to poor seems very bright and I look forward to staying close to Niranjan and this operation and helping in whatever ways I can. I will be participating in their upcoming planning process - albeit remotely.