India: Scaling up sustainable and responsible microfinance project

June 28, 2013

In June 2010, the World Bank launched a project to scale up sustainable and responsible microfinance to reach the financially excluded, particularly in under-served parts of the country. The project supports the efforts of the government of India and the Small Industries Development Bank of India (SIDBI) to promote inclusive growth by fostering sustainable financing practices among Indian microfinance institutions (MFIs), and improving transparency.

To enable MFIs to expand their services in a responsible manner, SIDBI has developed the India Micro Finance Platform (IMFP), a common information platform that expands the depth and breadth of publicly available data on Indian MFIs. This includes the provision of critical financial, operational, and credit information. Since the platform’s inception in April 2012, the database has grown substantially. The number of reporting MFIs has increased, and granular, district-level datasets have been developed.

Glimpses of people who have benefitted from the microfinance project:

Sumita Das
Kaibortapara, Sualkuchi, Assam


We were struggling to meet our daily needs. We had to borrow money. Life was hard,” said Sumita Das, 24, about her life few years ago.

Sumita, her husband Champak Das, and their son subsisted on her husband’s weekly wage of Rs.300. Sumita earned another Rs.200 by weaving traditional Assamese clothing like mekhala chadar and gamchas woven on a single loom in their cramped one-room house. 

Then, I took a loan from Bandhan, ( a microfinance company) bought more looms and raw material. My husband began to work from home. We now have three looms and one of our neighbors works for us,” she said.

Now, we earn Rs.9,000 a month. We have a color television, a home theatre, a fan, a mobile phone and a power inverter. We also send our only son to a private school. After paying a monthly installment of Rs.1,680, we save Rs.3,000 every month. All this was unthinkable for us few years back,” said Sumita, a smile breaking out on her lips.

Pinki Mandal
Lalganesh, Guwahati, Assam


I was running a public call booth and earning Rs.100 a day. After taking a loan of Rs.5,000 some years back from Bandhan, I installed a coin box phone and stocked stationary items in my shop. My monthly income increased to Rs.4,500,” said Pinki Mandal, a 33- year old woman entrepreneur.

Pinki and her husband, Narayan Mandal, an air conditioner mechanic, live with their two children.

I saved enough to pay Rs.40,000 to the shop-owner for renovation and began to keep gift items, school bags and toys for sale. I have now taken a loan of Rs.30,000 and have increased the variety of items in my shop,” she added.

My income presently is around Rs.8,000. I always wanted gold jewellery and can now buy it for my daughter and myself,” she said.

Pinki’s son had to be treated for kidney stones as a child. The family visits Vellore in South India for his annual check-up. “We have to spend Rs.40,000 for the trip. I am able to contribute part of it now,” she said.

I am happy that I can help my husband. We have renovated our home; this cost us around Rs.600,000,” Pinki said.

Basanti Kumari


I sell clay items like flower pots, piggy banks, lamps and idols. My monthly income was around Rs.2,000 earlier,” said Basanti Kumari, 36, mother of two. Her husband earns Rs.4,500 a month working as a security guard.

The items I sell are needed for religious purposes and always in demand. Profit margins are also quite high. But, my income remained low as I did not have the capital to buy bulk more stock. But the loan from Bandhan helped me to do that. I now earn Rs.6,000 a month,” she said.

I plan to take another loan of Rs.40,000 to Rs.50,000. I will add a tailoring and pan shop and keep soap and detergent for sale. With my income, I have taken a second connection of cooking gas, sent my son and daughter to good schools, and engage private tuition for them. I have saved around Rs.8000 in a bank and deposit Rs.500 in a monthly savings scheme.  My shop is everything. I have grown with my shop,” Basanti said.

Eli Begum
Manipuri Basti, Guwahati, Assam


I used to earn Rs.100 a day before I took the loan from Bandhan. After the loan I was able to buy more vegetables from the wholesalers,” said Eli Begum, 37, seated in her road side vegetable shop in a slum in Guwahati.

Now my volume of business has increased and my income has risen to Rs.250 a day,” she said. After repaying the first, she has taken more and has now invested in her husband’s cloth store, where they have employed a tailor to help her husband stitch clothes.

Eli's earnings have also helped in getting her only daughter married. Four of Eli Begum’s five sons are employed. “My youngest one does not earn. Now I have to grow my business to help him stand on his feet.

I always make it a point to borrow only as much as I can repay. I never overburden myself with huge loans,” said Begum, as she measured out vegetables to customers.

Sabita Pradhan
Kachari Basti, Dispur, Assam


After training in embroidery, painting, toy, pottery and flower making, I set up a tailoring shop,” said 24-year old Sabita Pradhan.

I had just one sewing machine and no money to buy more. I did not want to burden my retired father by asking for money. After a neighbor introduced me to Ujjivan ( a microfinance company), I took a loan of Rs.10,000 to buy another sewing machine, a desk and a bench to open my embroidery training centre,” she said.

Sabita Pradhan has not looked back since then.“I repaid the first loan and took a second one to buy the third machine.”

Now Sabita has more than 10 students in her center and earns around Rs.15,000 a month. Her father, Dambor Pradhan, helps her in the shop that sells chocolates, mobile phone recharge vouchers, soaps, detergents, chips, and cosmetics.

She pays Rs.2,000 as shop rent and electricity dues, besides a monthly installment of Rs.955. She contributes Rs.7,000 a month for household expenses. She has savings and pays Rs 3,450 a year for a life insurance policy.

I now plan to buy three more sewing machines, as well as more desks and benches so that I can take in more students,” Sabita said.