Small business owners and entrepreneurs in underdeveloped parts and hinterlands of India often do not have easy access to traditional financial resources and lending institutions. This may make it difficult for them to get loans, insurance policies, or investment plans that can help them grow. Microfinance or microcredit is a way to facilitate business owners and motivate them to accelerate business.
Under microfinance, these business owners can access loans, credit, saving accounts, insurance policies, and money transfers. Microfinance interest rates are higher than traditional personal loans. However, it is still an excellent option for those who cannot access traditional options. It contributes to the government’s vision of financial inclusion in the country.
Microfinance is financial services that are offered to small-time businesspeople who otherwise don’t have access to traditional financial products. Generally, microfinance involves providing access to loans and lines of credit to small business owners.
Access to loans from traditional lending institutions could be difficult for most economically weaker sections. Microfinance allows them to start a new business, create a livelihood and boost their savings.
Individuals could invest the capital in their business and reap the benefits of a structured borrowing system. It also saves the hassle and risk of borrowing from friends and family. Microfinancing institutions also offer various other services like insurance, savings accounts, training in money management and other business skills, etc.
The following items fall under the purview of microfinance:
Some microfinance options also require loan borrowers to take up lessons and training in cash-flow management or bookkeeping.
Access to financial credit with no collateral requirement helps those people get loans who do not possess any assets to pledge as collateral. Eligible candidates can get the benefits of microfinance with minimal paperwork and hassle-free processes. This enables them to become self-dependent quickly. In the case of an unexpected financial crisis, microfinance is an excellent way to sail through the challenges.
Not only do these loans help people meet financial needs but also promote entrepreneurship and self-dependence. This helps the country progress by reducing unemployment and encouraging businesses that add value to the economy. When microfinance beneficiaries succeed in their endeavors, they move to traditional banking institutions for future needs. This helps pump money into the economy.
There are two main channels for microfinance in India. These include the SHG-bank (Self Help Group) linkage program and microfinance institutions.
This mode of microfinance involves the grouping of 10-15 economically-backward women who contribute their savings at regular intervals. These contributions are later disbursed as loans to members of the group. Later, they can also get bank loans that finance income-generating activities. This has been a successful microfinance model and contributed significantly to women’s empowerment in India.
The primary function of MFIs is to offer microfinance. They act as an extension to banks and other lending institutions. They access financial resources from mainstream lending institutions and support the poor. Besides microcredit, they help poverty-stricken groups with savings accounts, insurance, remittances, etc. MFIs also help to support borrowers with training and counseling. They mostly use the joint liability group concept to offer credit. This model involves grouping credit applicants into informal groups of 5-10 members.
Commercial banks, credit unions, NGOs, cooperatives, and sectors of government and private banks offer microfinance in India. More people from low-income groups can access funds to take up income-generating activities because of the increasing network of MFIs. The interest rates are increased because of the high chances of default, but most people move to traditional borrowing solutions. The high repayment rate of microfinance bears testimony to the approach’s effectiveness.
Ans. You can apply for a micro-loan through the microfinance institution’s website. You will need to submit the application form along with the requisite documents. The amount will be released to your bank account upon verification of documents and loan approval.
Alternatively, you can visit the branch of the microfinance company and apply for a loan. You must submit physical copies of the necessary documents if you follow this route.
Ans. The high interest rates of loans offered by MFIs can be attributed to several factors. These include high costs of operation in rural areas, a high possibility of default, and the cost associated with processing smaller loans.
Ans. You will have to furnish the following documents to apply for microfinance loans:
Duly-filled microfinance loan application form
Copy of passport
Pan card copy
Proof of office address
Copy of 6 months bank statement
Audited financial statements for the previous 2 financial years
Passport-size photographs of the applicant
Ans. Eligibility criteria for microfinance loans include:
No loan from other MFI.
No pending loan amount over 1 lakh.
No steady income through a job or business.
You must also submit all the necessary documents at the time of the application.
Ans. Yes, microfinance loans play an important role in helping women entrepreneurs create livelihood and achieve financial independence. Globally, women are significant beneficiaries of microfinance.
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