IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, is partnering with IntelleCash to help start-up microfinance institutions in low-income states of India respond better to the needs of their customers, promoting responsible microfinance while providing better client protection.
IntelleCash is the first initiative in India to apply the principles of business franchising to the microfinance sector. Through the IntelleCash Network Program, it helps microfinance institutions get started and expand. IFC is working with IntelleCash to help microfinance institutions in India’s northeastern states, the low-income states of Bihar, Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, West Bengal, and in the western regions of Rajasthan and Gujarat, and the Vidharbha and Marathwada regions of Maharashtra.
“We will work intensively in Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Orissa and the north-eastern states, which are the high-priority states for the government of India,” said Manoj Nambiar, CEO of Intellecash. “With IFC’s support, we expect to expand significantly into rural and semi-urban areas where the need for microcredit is highest.”
The partnership comes at an opportune time, given the challenges of the microfinance sector in India. The reach of microfinance institutions in India remains low-most of India’s population has limited access to financial services. IFC’s support to IntelleCash will help new microfinance institutions emerge in underserved areas. It will also help build IntelleCash’s capacity for balanced, client-focused growth. Once established, the effort could be replicated in Africa.
“Since the recent microfinance crisis, IFC has been focused on investment and advisory services targeted at microfinance sector to expand outreach to low-income households in India,” said Jennifer Isern, who leads IFC’s Access to Finance business line in South Asia. “We would help IntelleCash to develop operational tools that can be used by new microfinance institutions to design demand-responsive microfinance services suitable for the clients.”