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Thursday, November 23, 2000



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Asia-Pacific meet on micro-credit in Feb

Our Bureau

NEW DELHI, Nov. 22

IN a bid to spread the reach of organised micro-credit facility among the poorest section of the Indian population and evolve a mechanism for measuring its impact, the Asia-Pacific region's `Micro-credit Summit' meeting will be held here in the first wee k of February.

More than 600 participants from over 50 countries are expected to take part in the summit. The Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the Washington-based `Micro-credit Summit Campaign', in association with the All India Women's Conference, which has a country -wide reach through over 500 branches, will talk about building financially self-sufficient micro-credit institutions and ways of empowering women in poor families.

According to available estimates, more than five lakh persons below the poverty line have gained access to organised micro-credit facilities in India in the last one year, through about one lakh self help-groups supported by the nationalised banks and ot her micro-credit institutions.

The total disbursement till date is about Rs 150 crore of which Rs 50 crore is from the banks and Rs 100 crore through the specialised micro-credit institutions. Prominent among these are the SEWA Bank in Gujarat and the Rashtriya Gramin Bikas Nidhi whic h operates extensively in the North-Eastern States.

The micro-credit institutions and the non-governmental organisations are funded both by the public sector banks as well as multilateral agencies like the Asian Development Bank (ADB), which has set up a micro-credit portfolio of $450 million.

ADB's disbursal in India is roughly $10 million though most of it is on account of housing loans to low-income groups and community-based organisations, according to ADB's Resident Representative in India, Mr Frank J. Polman.

The Micro-credit Summit Campaign director, Mr Sam Daley-Harris, however, finds the mindset of the poor as a major stumbling block in the spread of micro-credit operations as their low self-esteem makes them hesitate to approach for help.

``Reaching the poorest,'' Mr Harris said, is one of the most difficult tasks as they are the least likely to step forward.

``Identifying them and motivating them is not only difficult but requires additional expenses also. The small size of the borrower's initial loans makes it difficult for an institution to become self-sufficient. But, for any significant improvement in ec onomic standards, it is necessary to reach these people,'' he said.

Related links:
`Micro-credit has to be targeted right'

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