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Showing posts from April, 2014

Can Qualitative Research be Rigorous? Part 1: What is Qualitative Research?

Although this view is rapidly changing, qualitative research sometimes carries a reputation of being a less reliable or trustworthy approach than say, econometrics. More often than not, this stems from a belief that qualitative research is fundamentally subjective and therefore prone to bias. For some reason which I’m not adequately trained to explain or justify, the human psyche seems to have a tendency to interpret numbers as being more precise, reliable and objective than, let’s say, words. I’d like to explore the role of qualitative research and its potential for rigor in more detail. But first, I think it’s necessary to consider what qualitative research actually means.

But, really, what is qualitative research?

The answer to this question may be less obvious than it seems. We tend to think of qualitative research as being data collection and analysis associated with interviews, focus groups, observation and ethnography; while quantitative research gets grouped with surveys and adm…

Rennaisance through Regulation? On the Continuing Growth of the Indian Microfinance Sector

After the Andhra Pradesh crisis in 2010 hit, the extensive media coverage on predatory lending practices, coercive collection methods and resulting farmer suicides due to over indebtedness etched itself in public memory. Microfinance had promised the upliftment of the poor and ended up simply replacing the village moneylender (literally, as we’ll see later).

Working as a researcher on multiple microfinance-related projects, I’ve had the opportunity to observe public opinion on microfinance in action (every time I’m forced to explain that I don’t work in microfinance).

Fast-forward to 2014 and the mere mention of microfinance to the average Indian will raise an eyebrow. So does this mean microfinance, as an industry is dead?
After the AP crisis hit, the contagion of default was expected to spread throughout the country and swallow the multi-billion dollar industry whole. However, away from the public eye since the infamous 2010 AP crisis, the sector has been steadily growing.

To get a…

Sa-Dhan FI Conference 2014 - Role of Technology in New Generation Microfinance Domain

Session Panelists:
Mr V. D. Bohra, GM, FID, NABARD Mr Sushanta Tripathy, Senior VP, Yes Bank Mr Baskar Babu Ramachandran, Co-Founder & CEO, Suryoday MF Pvt. Ltd. Mr Venkateshwar Rao, SUB-K (BASIX)
Moderator -  Mr Rajeev Yadav, CEO, Future Financial Services Ltd.
Mr Yadav (Future Financial Services) – There is a significant need for MFIs to invest in technology but there are cons along with pros to technology. We are talking about mobile technology – that is what we mean when we ultimately talk about “basic” technology. How can the UID be taken forward for these services? One of the challenges to technology solutions is that there is resistance to adoption and that productivity does not necessarily increase.
Mr Tripathy (Yes Bank) – Mobile devices have been used by Yes Bank and there has been a great change in the past few years. We don’t have the technology to submit data to the CIB yet. That investment is being made now and has helped with the efforts to scale up.  The kind of…

Sa-dhan FI Conference 2014 - Role of the State - SHG and NRLM

Session Panelists
Mr. Rajan Babu, NRLM Ms. Sonali Ponshe, Vice Chairman and MD, MAVIM Mr. Yatesh Yadav, CEO, Centre for Microfinance (Rajasthan) Ms. Sonia Bedi, DST Pune Ms. Gitanjali Satapathy, Secretary, Kalighat Society for Development Facilitation (KSDF)
Moderator - Ms. Veena Padia, CEO, Indian School of Microfinance for Women

Rajan Babu (NRLM) - Gives a summary of the SHG II program and how cluster organizations are being utilized to make the program more effective.
Sonali Ponshe (MAVIM) - Tejaswini program  is being implemented in Maharashtra. With respect to NRLM, savings is the first topic to discuss. A mentality that is there is that the money belongs to government when loans are given out. In NRLM, now there are still group savings but this is a demand driven process. BPL lists are also no longer used to identify the poor. Convergence is a primary aim of NRLM. But every department has its own schemes and deadlines. Leadership given to the local people is what produces the…

Sa-Dhan FI Conference 2014 – Inclusive Credit Information Bureaus (CIBs)

Session Panelists
Mr Anil Jaggia, CIO, HDFC Bank Mr Sanjay Patel, CEO, Equifax Mr Sridhar, Sales Director, Experian Mr Sharad Joshi, CEO, Centre for Community Economics and Development Consultants Society (CECOEDECON)
Ms Shibani Sachdeva, Regional Director, Planet Finance
Moderator: Mr Colin Raymod, IFC


Mr Raymond (IFC) – The question that comes to mind about CIBs is if they are realistic? Two examples from other parts of the world are Australia: CIBs include 99% of the credit active population. In USA:  35-50 mill people are not recorded in the credit reporting space. This is a journey and takes a while. We have recently seen a lot of integration over time. We now have a lot of data from banks and MFIs. There is still a large portion of the population not covered in the credit database. Is the idea of being stored/recorded in a CIB an incentive?

Everyone in audience says yes.

Mr Jaggia (HDFC) – Glad to hear that it is a good thing. The first time you take a loan – that dose of …