22 Pages Posted: 18 Jan 2005
Microfinance is gathering momentum to become a major force in India. The self-help group (SHG) model with bank lending to groups of (often) poor women without collateral has become an accepted part of rural finance. The paper discusses the state of SHG-based microfinance in India. With traditionally loss-making rural banks shifting their portfolio away from the rural poor in the post-reform period, SHG-based microfinance, nurtured and aided by NGOs, have become an important alternative to traditional lending in terms of reaching the poor without incurring a fortune in operating and monitoring costs. The government and NABARD have recognized this and have emphasized the SHG approach and working along with NGOs in its initiatives. Over half a million SHGs have been linked to banks over the years but a handful of states, mostly in South India, account for over three-fourth of this figure with Andhra Pradesh being an undisputed leader. In spite of the impressive figures, microfinance in India is still presently too small to create a massive impact in poverty alleviation, but if pursued with skill and opportunity development of the poor, it holds the promise to alter the socioeconomic face of the India's poor.
Keywords: India, microfinance
JEL Classification: N25, G15
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation