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Build an inclusive microfinance career

Microfinance is growing fast and needs talent at all levels.

Saumya Bhattacharya | Print Edition: May 18, 2008

With microfinance institutions (MFIs) coming into focus, both at the level of policy and growth, there are career opportunities galore in the sector. While a wide-range of openings are at the level of field workers, the sector is facing a talent crunch at the managerial level, especially following the Reserve Bank of India’s focus on the sector. Says C.S. Ghosh, CEO, Bandhan, a leading micro credit company: “There are huge job opportunities in microfinance as the sector is very people-driven.”

Microfinance: Career opportunities galore
Microfinance has many career opportunities
“While these MFIs come up with the aim of serving the poor, they are slowly moving to serve the category of customers who are dynamic in cash flows but not served by banks proactively,” says D. Sattaiah, Vice-President (HR), Basix India, an MFI comprising a non-banking finance company engaged in credit and an NGO engaged in technical assistance.

To keep this rapid expansion on track, the sector needs graduates and undergraduates at the executive level and people with over twoto-three years experience for managerial positions. “Typically, for every client base of a million, over 3,500-4,000 persons are employed,” Sattaiah says, adding that at the entry level, local undergraduates become the target sources. In the executive cadre, fresh graduates are recruited and trained.

 Fact box

Who’s hiring: Microfinance institutions like Bandhan, Basix India, mainstream banks and NBFCs

Who’re they hiring: Graduates and management graduates with over five years of experience in microfinance sector

At what levels: Entry, middle and senior levels

At what salaries: At entry level, salaries are in the range of Rs 3 lakh per annum. At the middle level, salaries go up to Rs 8 lakh p.a. At senior levels, salaries go upwards of Rs 10 lakh p.a.

What are the numbers like: Across microfinance institutions, typically for every million client base, around 4,000 persons are employed. While a majority of these are entry-level positions, the demand for managers is growing fast

Ghosh points out that there is a huge unmet demand for microfinance in India and it is perhaps the largest emerging market within the financial services vertical.

Hence, the need to bridge the demand-supply gap.

The problem of finding the right talent has intensified as there are very few universities and colleges that offer courses in microfinance.

At the managerial level, professionals, particularly management graduates, are needed in large numbers.

Sattaiah says that for MFIs, the scarcity of managerial talent is reflected in a poor second line of leadership.

For those looking at an inclusive career, one requisite skill is a clear understanding of the customer’s socio-economic background. Mainstream bankers have also upped the hiring ante.

A pointer to this was that recently, “Basix alone was the source for mainstream bankers, insurance companies and NBFC to pick up over 50 first-line managers who were offered compensation hike of 60 per cent or more,” says Sattaiah.

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