By Tensing Rodrigues , IMBN
I do not remember exactly when this microfinance bug bit me. As a graduate student, I did have to learn development economics; but that was a different paradigm altogether. It was heavily loaded with socialism, the flavour of the times. Wading through the three volumes of Gunnar Myrdal’s Asian Drama, was an adventure we would be proud of; we dreamed of a day when India would leave the Third World and be restored to its lost glory – as if it was to be some sort of a continental drift ! Let me be honest; as a young man brought up on booth milk and ration rice, I never believed it could ever happen.
But down the line sometime, I did get a little interested in this “micro” business, perhaps lured by Schumacher’s Small is Beautiful. When I crossed the post-graduate threshold, for some time I toyed with the idea of working on “appropriate technology” for my doctorate. But I had greater passions driving me then, and soon forgot about it – both the micro business and the doctorate !
It was only decades later, when I had already quit my teaching position and plunged into marketing of investments and insurance, that the bug really bit me. Moving from factory to factory, house to house to canvass business, I had the first hand encounter with reality. I learned then what both development economics and training in insurance and investment basics had failed to teach me : the crying need for microfinance.
Of course, by then the paradigm had changed. India was “liberalised” and socialism was consigned to dustbin of history; and the continental drift had actually happened ! By then I had also come under the influence of C K Prahalad’s Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid. The complete picture had fallen in place for me. That was the clear beginning of my love affair with microfinance. Investment and insurance were not only necessary for the masses at the bottom of the pyramid; I was convinced they could be both viable and profitable for the companies selling them.
But would that shift actually happen ?
About the Author – Tensing Rodrigues is presently a visiting faculty member at Goa University and is engaged in design, development and delivery of courses in Marketing of Financial Products, Risk Management and Personal Empowerment. He specializes in development of Experiential Learning modules. He may be contacted on his Linked In profile.