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Srijan 2008 Microfinance Competition Awards Best Ideas for Reaching India’s Financially Excluded
Mumbai, Maharashtra, India, Monday, July 07, 2008  -- (Business Wire India)
Microfinance, providing financial services to the poor, has emerged as one of the most effective delivery innovations for financial inclusion, and is evolving from a development focused sector into a sub-sector of the mainstream retail financial services industry with both economic and social outcomes. With 75 million poor households potentially requiring financial services, the microfinance market in India is among the largest in the world. However, the current supply amounts to only about 7% of the demand.

Srijan 2008 (www.srijan2008.com) is the third in a series of annual business plan competition organized by Intellecap and Aavishkaar Goodwell Microfinance Development Company in partnership with The Financial Express. Srijan showcases new ideas for greater financial inclusion as a sector building initiative. It helps put the spotlight on emerging and established enterprises that could directly or indirectly create opportunities for greater financial inclusion. This year, Srijan 2008 focused on addressing three priority areas for the microfinance sector: lack of risk capital, knowledge asymmetry, and application of technological innovation for business efficiency.

In addition to the business plan competition, Srijan 2008 initiative also organized a Panel Discussion on the emerging issues in microfinance. Viewers from around the world watched the two-hour event that was webcasted live on http://srijan2008.com/. The panel event discussed critical points on the availability of debt financing to emerging microfinance institutions and saw a lively debate on the innovations in debt structuring.

The competition ceremony itself was a grand culmination of over six months of preparation, mentoring and marketing on the part of the organizers and the participants. The plans presented included initiatives that provide microfinance services through various sustainable, holistic and scalable models, both stand alone as well as in combination with livelihoods, health, education and marketing services. Most of these were start-up microfinance outfits in remote areas of states such as Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, and West Bengal. Some unique ideas included models that propose to provide online access to financial support for livelihoods interventions (Livelihoods E-Financing) and models that facilitate producer groups to successfully carry out backward and forward integration for better livelihoods (Chenetha Kalanetha Collectives) and a rural retail chain (Shakti).

Pochampally Chenetha Kalanetha Collectives, by Akshara Development Support Services, promoted by Mr. G. Muralidhar and Mr. Vepoor Murali won the ‘Srijan 2008 Best Business Idea Award.’ The entrepreneur team received a cash prize of INR 6 Lacs sponsored by the Standard Chartered Bank. The initiative takes an original approach towards producer groups that allows them to successfully reduce the Pochampally weavers’ growth pains. By creating a network of collectives to link 5000 households of weavers, providing them with value chain analysis, market research and a flexible set of capital services the initiative will reduce producer costs; expand sales and direct capital towards high growth potential innovations.

Samhita Microfinance, promoted by Ms. Praseeda Kunam and Mr. Balakrishnamurthy, won the “Most Promising Business Idea- I” Award. The entrepreneur(s) will receive INR 2 Lacs as prize money. Samhita Microfinance was started up in 2007 in the Rewa district of Madhya Pradesh, with a lean operation model designed for rapid scalability through the support of state-of-the-art technology solutions. Samhita complements its credit provision with a wide array of health, environmental and educational initiatives provided by the Samhita Community Development Services network partners.

Synergics, promoted by Mr. V Hitendra Shankar and Mr. K Naveen Chand, was adjudged the “Most Promising Business Idea- II.” The entrepreneurs received INR 2 Lacs as prize money. Synergics will act as equity partners with their entrepreneurs, sharing the risk and leveraging their expertise. In addition to providing credit, Synergics will partner with enterprises to provide an institutional guarantee to commercial banks as well as giving professional support. It will offer Business Development Services and provide long-term debt/equity structures. It will also provide a platform to increase market value in terms of better access and a higher bargaining power.

In addition to the cash prize, all three selected business plans would receive expert mentoring and business advisory support from Intellecap and Srijan Partners. All participants will also receive an opportunity to meet the due diligence team from Aavishkaar Goodwell as well as other investors who are increasingly looking at investments in the microfinance business space.

Srijan 2008 was organized by Intellecap and Aavishkaar Goodwell, in partnership with The Financial Express. The initiative is supported by FMO Netherlands (Lead Sponsor), National Agricultural Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) and Fullerton India (Associate Sponsors), Standard Chartered Bank (Prize Sponsor) and International Finance Corporation (Panel Discussion Sponsor). ‘Online media partner’ VCCircle.com, ‘Outreach Partners’ Solution Exchange and ‘Print Media Partners’ Microfinance Insights also supported the initiative. The video clips of Srijan 2008 will be available on the website of the investment support partner of the event, the India Development Gateway (www.IndiaDevelopmentGateway.com).
Source :
Business Wire, India
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