October 23 SVMN Meeting: Vikram Akula, SKS and Expanding Microfinance

Beyond Microfinance

Leveraging the MFI-client relationship to provide more than financial services

Please join us at our next SVMN meeting on Thursday, October 23, 2008 which will feature Vikram Akula of SKS Microfinance.

Vikram Akula


When does it make sense for microfinance institutions to sell non-financial products and services to their existing clients? Vikram Akula will present innovations and successes in expanding the reach of the microfinance field. As Alex Counts challenged us to do at our last SVMN event, Vikram is leading the charge in thinking beyond financial services, leveraging the relationships and infrastructure that MFIs have established, to provide other services critical to improving people’s lives. Particularly interesting to SVMN and its innovative and entrepreneurial members, the work of SKS Microfinance demonstrates rapid growth and success in this area. SKS is India’s largest MFI and one of the fastest-growing MFIs in the world. Vikram will discuss his thoughts on strategies, experiences, challenges and opportunities in both providing financial services and reaching beyond microfinance.

TIME Magazine named Vikram one of the world’s most influential people of the year in 2006, he has won multiple awards for his social entrepreneurship, and Social Edge recently featured Vikram Akula in an X-Interview (September 23).


While microfinance has been deemed one of the best tools for poverty alleviation, it has the inherent flaw of working on the micro, individual scale. Vikram Akula spoke about his vision to scale microfinance globally to reach the enormous unmet demand for microfinance and truly make an enormous impact in getting people out of poverty in our lifetime. Just last month, SKS added 400,000 new borrowers in India! Vikram presented on SKS Microfinance’s strategy and operations, how the MFI uses a profit model to access commercial capital, how it draws on scalable business models such as McDonald’s or Coke, and how it uses technology to vastly increase its efficiency and outreach. Vikram talked about not only providing financial services, but also leveraging the existing MFI-client pipeline to offer poor people access to non-financial services and goods at reasonable rates — a win/win/win situation for low-income consumers, SKS as an intermediary, and producers. Vikram also introduced SKS Microfinance’s Ultra Poor Program, which gives assets rather than financial loans to the poorest clients. SKS’s commercial approach is the meeting place of long-term investment thinking and social goals; what is good for clients is ultimately good business.

Vikram Akula’s presentation:

Vikram Akula talks to SVMN about how SKS is expanding the reach of microfinace (October 23, 2008)

To register, please click on the SVMN registration link here:


When: Thursday, October 23, 2008

6:00-6:30pm: Registration, Dinner, & Networking
6:30-8:00pm: Speaker & Discussion
8:00-8:30pm: Networking

Where: Salesforce offices in San Mateo

600 Concar Dr.
San Mateo, CA 94402
(directions here)


in advance: $20 regular attendee | $10 students & non-profits (w/ ID)
at the door: $30 regular attendee | $20 students & non-profits (w/ ID)
(includes dinner + drinks)



SVMN Interim ED April Newman, SKS CEO & Founder Vikram Akula, and SVMN and Microplace Founder Tracey Pettengill Turner

SVMN Interim ED April Newman, SKS Founder & CEO Vikram Akula, and SVMN Founder and Microplace Founder Tracey Pettengill Turner

Speaker Bio:

Vikram Akula, Founder & CEO of SKS Microfinance

Previously a management consultant with McKinsey & Company, Vikram has over a decade of work and research experience in microfinance. He was a Fulbright Scholar in India, during which he coordinated an action-research project on providing micro-credit for food security. He was also researcher with the Worldwatch Institute, where he wrote articles focused on poverty and development. He has also worked as a community organizer with the Deccan Development Society in India.

He holds a B.A. from Tufts, an M.A. from Yale, and has a Ph.D. from the University of Chicago. His Ph.D. dissertation focused on the impact of microfinance. He has received several awards for his work with SKS, including the Echoing Green Public Service Entrepreneur Fellowship.

About SKS Microfinance:

Launched in 1998, SKS Microfinance is one of the fastest growing microfinance organizations in the world, having provided over $896 million (Rs 3,876 crores) and has maintained loans outstanding of $405 million (Rs.1,754 crores) in loans to 2,709,137 women members in poor regions of India. Borrowers take loans for a range of income-generating activities, including livestock, agriculture, trade (such as vegetable vending), production (from basket weaving to pottery) and new age businesses (Beauty Parlor to photography). SKS also offers interest-free loans for emergencies as well as life insurance to its members. Its NGO wing SKS foundation runs the Ultra Poor Program. SKS currently has 1259 microfinance branches in 16 states across India. SKS aims to reach 8,000,000 members by 2010. In the last year alone, SKS Microfinance has achieved nearly 170 % growth, with 99% on-time repayment rate.


2 thoughts on “October 23 SVMN Meeting: Vikram Akula, SKS and Expanding Microfinance

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