SETTING GOALS: Rotary International president Wilfrid
Wilkinson,(centre), director Ashok Mahajan (left) and industrialist
Krishnaraj Vanavarayar at the Rotary International Presidential
Conference in Chennai.
CHENNAI: Rotary International Foundation will be glad to provide
matching and 3H grants to its clubs willing to start microcredit
groups, Rotary International president Wilfrid Wilkinson said.
The goals of Rotary International and microcredit went hand in hand.
It was possible for Rotary Clubs to easily incorporate a microcredit
programme into the work they were already implementing, Mr.Wilkinson
said. He said he was particularly proud of the work Rotarians had been
doing in India in the attempt to eradicate poverty.
Mr. Wilkinson emphasised the need for members of a self-help group to stay together to make the project a success.
He was speaking at the Rotary International Presidential Conference
on Micro Credit 2007, attended by members of Rotary Clubs, Rotaract and
Inner Wheel members and over 1,500 women belonging to self-help groups.
Describing microcredit as the process of allocating small loans to
poor entrepreneurs, Mr.Wilkinson said it would help people rise out of
debt and become self-sufficient. It also gave dignity to people who
hadno means of support. He said the repayment rates were high, as his
experience with credit unions and microfinance had demonstrated. The
default rate was less than one per cent.
If implemented properly it would work well as it had for Nobel
laureate Muhammed Yunus and his Grameen Bank. Rotary’s highest award
was given to Yunus as early as in 1999, he said. Mr. Younus’
collaborator in the Grameen initiative Khalid Shams, who was former
deputy managing director of Grameen Bank and now heads Grameen Telecom,
said the success of Grameen could be replicated in India as well.
Explaining the structure of the bank and its lending system, he said
there were three essential elements that governed lending: a receiving
system that organised the target clientele, credit delivery and
generation of new income and the socio-economic development that ensued
from this development.
The bank had now moved on to offer a diversified loan portfolio, and
apart from the basic loan, there were flexible loans, housing loans,
microentreprise loans and even educational loans. The savings generated
through microcredit were sufficient to sustain Grameen’s lending
programme. Women were the torchbearers of the microfinance revolution,
because they were the ones who focussed on the future – sending their
children to school and ensuring a better quality of life for them.
Industrialist Krishnaraj Vanavarayar said it was a permanent
coalition between Rotary and their various partners in the effort to
eradicate poverty. He said it would be the beginning of a big change in
the country and it would bring women to the fore. He urged the women to
develop marketing and leadership skills in addition to focussing on
just starting an enterprise.
Ashok Mahajan, Rotary International director, said eradicating
poverty was Rotary’s business. This particular project aimed at
bringing together people who were resolved to remove poverty.
A.S.Venkatesh, Governor of Rotary International District 3230, the
hosts of the conference, said Rotary hoped to bring about social change
in partnership with self-help group women.