21 October, 2020

Body Blow For Microfinance Institutions, Can They Keep Their Chin Up During Corona Times?

Microfinance institutions are unable to resume even limited operations and the Reserve Bank of India's revival package may not serve the most deprived

Photographs by PTI
Body Blow For Microfinance Institutions, Can They Keep Their Chin Up During Corona Times?

The television set plays the news on mute at a microfinance executive’s home in Noida. A prime-time panel of experts is having a spirited debate about an exit strategy—how to ease coronavirus restrictions, find a way out of the pandemic, and revive the battered economy. The executive watches silently, without blinking, eyes glued to the ticker scroll running at the bottom of the screen. The branch manager of a microfinance company and his field officer were assaulted and arrested in Sarangarh district of Chhattisgarh for breaching stay-at-home orders. They were trying to recommence field operations of lending and collection of dues. Another such assault was reported from West Bengal. At the heart of any revival plan is the nation’s microfinance market, the largest in the world, catering to more than 120 million homes that have no access to financial services. Indian micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) and the farm sector are the biggest beneficiaries of the microfinance institutions (MFI). And these sectors have clearly suffered a one-two punch and...



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