Microcredit and its broader form, Microfinance has gained a lot of publicity ever since Mohammed Yunus and the Grameen Bank won the Nobel Peace Prize for the work providing small credit to the poor. In India, the number of organization involved in such loans, which are better known as MFIs, Microfinance Institutions, are more than 200 MFIs presently and increasing at a fast pace.
In India there are about 52,000 commercial bank branches, 14,522 branches of regional rural banks and 100,000 cooperative bank branches. This huge network have already started working on Microfinance to meet the credit needs of the people thereby creating opportunities for financial professionals seeking alternatives to traditional accounting and banking positions.
There is an increasing shift in the microfinance sector from grant-giving to investment in the form of debt or equity, and ICICI believes grant money should be limited to the creation of facilitative infrastructure. "We need to stop sending government and funding agencies the signal that microfinance is not a commercially viable system", says Nachiket Mor, ex. Executive Director of ICICI Bank.
As a result of banks entering the game, the sector has changed rapidly. "There is no dearth of funds today, as banks are looking into MFIs favorably, unlike a few years ago", says Padmaja Reddy, the CEO of one of ICICI Bank's major MFI partners, Spandana. And with banks entering the sector, interest rates have also dropped. "Interest rates have come down from 14% to 10%", says Reddy.
By encouraging savings by the poor and agglomerating the savings into loans to the poor themselves, microfinance gives the poor not only access to funds but also hope.
Most jobs in MFIs involve either the granting and processing of loans or training and development. Loan managers usually decide who receives money and then track repayment. Non-loan positions may school entrepreneurs on the nuts and bolts of running their companies and business planning and strategy. However, loan and non-loan positions can overlap. For example, loan managers who review loan or grant applications may also advise entrepreneurs on their business plans. Most organizations aren't large enough to be specialized. Loan managers may help put the finishing touches on a business plan or help entrepreneurs reanalyze their cash flow.
Different players in Microfinance sector attract employment with different educational backgrounds. In case of MFIs, they are open to people with varying degrees of education. A person with matriculation, intermediate or graduation can work as Field Officer, Community Organizer or Accountant (mainly for commerce graduate). Graduates with technical education (Agriculture, Livestock etc.) can work as a Field Supervisor, Branch Manager etc. Area/Zonal/Regional Managers require person with professional degree like MBA, Agriculture, Rural Development.
As the sector has grown, MFIs have sought professionals with deeper financial backgrounds. The field attracts a lot of people interested in public service.
What MFIs are looking for?
Every candidate is crucial, every selection critical, as every individual contributes significantly to the corporate goals. They look for candidates who are self-starters, have determination to make things happen, have capabilities to challenge the status quo and develop, devise and implement new ideas.
They admire academic excellence, professional dexterity and behavioral sensitivity towards customers, both internal and external. And appreciate the following competencies in the prospective candidates: -
Planning and organizing: Capability to translate goals into workable action plans through prioritization, target allocation and optimal utilization of resources and commitment to meet deadlines.
Customer Focus: Understanding the criticality of satisfying the customer. Analytical ability to comprehend needs of both internal and external customers, to respond appropriately and build long-term relationships with them.
Achievement Orientation: Initiative and drive to aggressively pursue ambitious targets, with consistent determination to overcome obstacles and achieve outstanding results.
Team Effectiveness: Ability to lead and work in teams as required by the role. Capability of motivating the team towards achieving the shared vision and team objectives.
Negotiation and Impact: Ability to build internal commitment and external credibility, through effective negotiation and suitable influencing styles, based on a clear understanding of organizational decision-making dynamics.
Communication: Ability to grasp and process information, and to articulate thoughts and ideas to convey use information in an open, transparent and meaningful manner.
Capability Building: Ability to manage and develop employees in ways that allow them to fully contribute to improving the results of the business and helping them to grow personally and professionally and an ability to enhance effectiveness and efficiency of work processes & methods.