We Are as Vulnerable as Our Clients

Commercialization of the microfinance sector has driven the growth much faster than the sector could absorb. The growth was 200%, 300% growth, amazing. Then there were lots of other pressures that came with growth and everybody’s interest had to be taken care of. Maybe in the priority list, client interest became the least important one.
Somehow we distanced ourselves from our clients.

What intrigued me was why the clients were not coming out and saying that these are the institutions which are critical for our economic being.

Somehow they were very silent. The people were not there with us. That is one of the horrible things that had happened in the crisis, and it is also a truth that hit us on the face. It shows how we haven’t done things properly. So it is important for us to do something differently now.

[An estimated] 60% to 70% of [Ananya Finance’s] partners are institutions that are in the nonprofit sector, which are doing the much deeper work of poverty alleviation. To them, credit is only one activity. Many of them combined lots of other activities—healthcare, insurance, income generation, business training, children’s education. These institutions are also not very big, you know; they have 20% to 30% growth rate every year. They do very intense work in a specific area.

The clients we serve are very vulnerable, all of us know. We have to work with them to help them to come out of this. Today we need to recognize that we are as vulnerable as our clients. The crisis has told us that it is time for us to invest more time in understanding our clients and their needs and then respond accordingly. That is very important.