Microfinance Institutions (MFIs), in India and elsewhere, work mostly for poor women—those labouring in the informal sector, those who are self-employed and those who need a bit of help to become self-employed and survive. But, as the sector grows bigger and bigger, managements of MFIs tend to be dominated by men for a variety of reasons. BT picks out six outstanding women who are at the top of their organisations. Almost all of them are highly qualified and could have ended up as whitecollar professionals, but were drawn into microfinance.G. Padmaja Reddy40, Managing Director, Spandana Sphoorty Financial
Organisation’s key objective:
To be the leading service provider.
G.Padmaja Reddy almost had to wind up her first venture in 1998 but was saved at the last minute with a loan from the Friends of Women’s World Banking. Today, Spandana disburses about Rs 10 crore a day. Recently, when it wanted to raise Rs 200 crore, it got the money from PE players, through word of mouth, in 15 days. Spandana is now the secondlargest MFI in India with 1.8 million loan accounts, covering eight states. Its aim: to be present in 15 states with 5 million clients and have loans outstanding of at least Rs 5,000 crore within three years.
—E. Kumar Sharma