When we began working in India in 1998, microfinance institutions were emerging as a significant force in providing poor, rural communities with financial services. During the early years of our work, we gave funding and technical advice to microfinance institutions to help them reach and serve even more people, and partnered with microfinance associations on industry-wide initiatives aimed at strengthening the entire sector.
India has experienced tremendous economic growth and urbanization in the past two decades, but poverty remains a significant challenge, especially in rural areas. An estimated 30 percent of Indians live below the poverty line and only 27 percent of low-income adults can access financial services at a formal institution. Digital technology offers exciting new ways to reach these communities.
Through our subsidiary, Grameen Foundation India, and through Freedom from Hunger India Trust, an independent affiliate, we work with government agencies, microfinance institutions, commercial banks, mobile network providers and others to make financial services and health information more accessible and affordable to underserved households, particularly women. Our joint venture company, Grameen Capital India, also helps socially minded organizations get the funding they need to effectively serve their clients.
Key projects in India include:
- Expanding services to help members of women’s groups repay their microfinance loans safely using mobile phones, and creating products that help poor families
- Piloting a program to help poor families use their bank accounts more actively
- Supporting the national roll-out of mobile health tools for pregnant women, new mothers and frontline health workers.
- Linking health, nutrition, agriculture, and gender, we connect more poor women in Rajasthan State to available services through Freedom from Hunger India Trust.