> Posted by Center Staff

Ela R. Bhatt, founder of the Self-Employed Women’s Association (SEWA) in Gujarat, was recently appointed to the board of directors of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI).

Bhatt, who is sometimes called the “mother of Indian microfinance,” helped start the Mahila Sewa Co-operative Bank in 1974, two years before Muhammad Yunus initiated the project that would later become Grameen Bank.

Bhatt was interviewed by the New York Times blog India Ink. Among the major points she made to interviewer Vikas Bajaj:

  • “The future of microfinance sector, as such, is not dark. One, because of women – amongst the poor, women are a big part of it. They have proved themselves everywhere.”
  • “The poor need a full package of financial services, savings, credit, insurance — I also add housing — social security, financial literacy, pensions and counseling. If the purpose is poverty reduction, that whole package of financial services is needed.”
  • “Making profit and surplus is acceptable. It has proved that it can stand on its own.”

The Center for Financial Inclusion welcomes Bhatt’s appointment and hopes it is a sign that the voice of the microfinance sector will be heard with increasing clarity among India’s policymakers.

Have you read?

Consequences of Over-indebtedness: Lessons from India

Malegam Recommendations Prompt RBI Changes, But Not as Drastic as Feared

India’s Microfinance Crisis: What Lessons Does It Hold for the Philippines?