Vikram Akula, Founder and Chairman of SKS Microfinance of India and Muhammad Yunus, founder of Grameen Bank of Bangladesk, Nobel Peace Prize recipient and author meet for an interview at Clinton Global Initiative this week. I met Vikram in Hyderabad back in 2005 just as they were transforming from a non-profit to a commercial entity and Unitus Equity Fund was the catalytic investor. Recently, SKS Microfinance floated a successful IPO on the Indian stock market.
This discussion clearly lays out the contrasting perspectives of Vikram and Yunus on their approaches to microfinance. This is largely about what qualifies as a social business (my perspective) and how best to approach bringing financial services to the world’s poorest.
Overall, if you’ve read my previous posts on Yunus, you’ll know that I am a huge fan on the innovations that he has brought (and continues to bring) to microfinance. You’ll also note that I am greatly disappointed in his unwillingness to face the realities of the slow growth of microfinance access outside of Bangladesh and how different models are needed in order to accelerate the day when poverty is something we only see in museums (Yunus’ vision.)
In this discussion, he suggests that we should “go slow” with expanding microfinance access until governments create the same banking regulations as in Bangladesh. This is a luxury the poor do not want and don’t deserve.
Please share your thoughts in comments.