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What Does the Poor Need?: Aligning Products and Services

1:41: CGAP lady Alexia from CGAP starts. “Echo system of providers that meet this range of needs”

1:45: There is a whole audience participation sequence to illustration that demand is mysterious—we don’t always know what customers want.

1:48: Shout out Naciket Mor! Customizing products for customers!

1:49: It’s a market problem: we don’t know the size/scope of the market for financial services. That's why we need research, folks. 

1:50: Fast moving consumer goods—P&G does a really good job of catering to demand. “connect and develop approach”

1:52: Silicon Valley shout out!  Google is creative! Hell yeah it is!  #bayarea


1:55: KGFS has geographically defined products: South (3 areas), East(Orissa), North (Uttarakhand). 140 branches, a customer base of 220,000. Impressive…

1:57: Radhakrishnan, from Janalakshmi describes his model. 2 tier section, doesn’t make any money off the business initiative;  66 branches in 12 states; lots of investment in technology. Sorry, Janalakshmi, but looks like KGFS wins the “who’s bigger” contest.

2:00: Sadhan founder, Achla. Nearly 15 years of presence, has been working with the government/NGOs,/Policymakers.

2:03: Geeta Goel, microfinance in urban settings with the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation, started in 2006. Child centric organization, has put a lot of money in microfinance/non MFI products. 

2:06: Anil Kumar on how KGFS is client-centric: it’s the incentive structure, the way the branch operates, the products, the services, the parameters that go into the audit. Need to build products and services around a client’s life. It’s the personnel in the bank too; get product that is right for customer, not based on commission. Glad to know what I’m working for

2:09: We need fresh data, trained staff, etc. Audits are supposed to protect the client, not just the organization. YES transparency is good! Good data is so necessary! 

2:10: ANIL IS RATING KGFS ABOUT HOW GOOD KGFS IS: This should be interesting....
            Intent/commitment/desire: 5/5
            Implementation: 3/5

2:11: “it’s a journey”, not a cookie cutter approach, the answers aren’t there, we don’t have a silver bullet. (I heard something that sounded like “building Narnia” but he actually said “peeling an onion”).

2:13: Best method of evaluation is numeric and transparent. #OBVIOUSLY. #RCT

2:15: Look at entire family’s welfare, not just one member. Yup, intrahousehold resource allocation! Bargaining power!

2:16: Radhakrishnan is trying to build a bank franchise catering to urban poor, who have less community is hard. They are also doing okay, less so on implementation, and more so in vision. I don’t know if you can say that the urban poor have less community…let’s see some evidence for that claim.

2.19: Client centricity is good for his business; need to invest & listen to clients; the cost does make business sense. Because that’s what the business wanted to be in the first place. Incremental cost of servicing another product is reduced.

2:22: Achla: in Sadhan, there are  lot of types of positions that affiliated MFIs choose to be a part of, Sadhan; loan recipients are generally women, not farmers, have skills, sometimes? Need different products, there’s going to be a new paradigm for future clients.

2:26: There’s a lot of regulation but there isn’t a lot of investment.

2:27: Anil on partnerships that allow us to offer a wide variety of products: there is no new regulation that is required for an entity to reach out to these markets; RBI keeps on coming up with laws, there is no need for special regulation? Technology is the clincher here; once there is the ability to offer the poor mainstream products, we have to play the role.

2:30: Geeta Goel on picking partners: need to look at people on the same page, don’t want a checklist for due diligence, just want a company that can provide services at scale in a commercially viable manner, with a customer centric viewpoint, doesn’t have to be nonprofit or for profit, just need a competitive advantage from listening to the customers. But do look for social orientation.

2:32: Constant innovation of products is necessary in order to keep customers happy; ask for customer satisfaction surveys, that should come up to upper management a lot; encourage investments in a strong assembly line. May not leverage entire ability in first few years, but need a strong base from which we can expand. Don’t want to have loss leaders, expand incrementally on the margin. It’s a tight margin business.

2:34: Doesn’t standardization go backwards, against product customization? Nice one Alexia! “CUSTOMER CENTRICITY, NOT CUSTOMER ECCENTRICITY”. Snappy! Need to be able to deliver products appropriately. Need products that are self sustaining. Need products that the customer should understand. Market is not ready for individualized products.

2:35: My laptop dies. Sorry folks, but there is no delightful commentary on the Q&A


  1. your approach is refreshing......though some comments are judgemental.....reminds me of somebody I had worked with once......recharge your laptop and resume


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