Vijay Mahajan, Treading Carefully in Indian Microfinance's Troubled Landscape

> Posted by Center Staff
One of the more profound reflections on the crisis in Indian microfinance comes to us from Vijay Mahajan, who is undertaking Shodh Yatra, an “extended grassroots enquiry into the lives and livelihoods of poor people.”
His journey comes in the form of a “walk while in a village or a town, stopping by every once in a while to have a dialogue; and drive between habitations.”
Mahajan, who makes Gandhi a spiritual touchstone as he blogs about his experiences, is a trailblazer in Indian microfinance who was listed by BusinessWeek’s Asia edition as being among the country’s 50 most powerful people.
“I intend to do this [Shodh Yatra] for 60 days over a period of Jan 30, 2011 (today) till April 18, 2011,” he writes. “The beginning date and place are significant to me – today is Gandhiji’s martyrdom day and I am starting from his Ashram in Sevagram, Wardha; near Nagpur in Central India.”
Mahajan’s roots in microfinance include co-founding several development organizations: BASIX (www.basixindia.com), PRADAN, Development Finance Forum, Andhra Pradesh Mahila Abhivruddhi Society (www.apmas.org), Sa-Dhan (www.sa-dhan.org) and the Microfinance Institutions Network (www.mfinidai.org).
“For financial inclusion and for livelihood promotion, I will use this opportunity to revisit fundamental assumptions about customers and collaborators, about cost structures and revenue models, and more fundamentally, about how to do all this responsibly as well as sustainably,” writes Mahajan, who recently became chairperson of the executive committee of  the Consultative Group to Assist the Poor (CGAP).
There is, of course, much more happening here than can be encapsulated in this blog post.
To learn what Mahajan learns about what people are thinking and feeling about microfinance, you can follow his progress on his blog, http://vijaymahajan.wordpress.com/.

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