Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Using the SKS IPO money to begin more social bushiness

The initial public offering of stock for SKS Microfinance was one of the most controversial events we followed this year.

The India microcredit bank was accused by many as only being into microcredit to make themselves rich. Some including microcredit's founder Muhammad Yunus, believe that those who begin microcredit services should do so without seeking to gain much profit for it. The microcredit "purists" say that only those who receive the loans should reap the benefits.

However, the man who helped to start SKS Microfinance is going to use the money he gained from the stock IPO to begin more social businesses. Further, SKS investor Vinod Khosa says that for-profit microcredit banks work better than the non-profit banks.

From the New York Times, writer Vicas Bajaj profiles Khosa and his plans to help more of those on the bottom of the pyramid.

An Indian transplant to Silicon Valley, Mr. Khosla plans to start a venture capital fund to invest in companies that focus on the poor in India, Africa and elsewhere by providing services like health, energy and education.

By backing businesses that provide education loans or distribute solar panels in villages, he says, he wants to show that commercial entities can better help people in poverty than most nonprofit charitable organizations.

“There needs to be more experiments in building sustainable businesses going after the market for the poor,” he said in a telephone interview from his office in Menlo Park, Calif. “It has to be done in a sustainable way. There is not enough money to be given away in the world to make the poor well off.”

Mr. Khosla’s advocacy of the bootstrap powers of capitalism is part of an increasingly popular school of thought: businesses, not governments or nonprofit groups, should lead the effort to eradicate global poverty.

Some nonprofit experts say commercial social enterprises have significant limitations and pose conflicts of interest. But proponents like Mr. Khosla draw inspiration from the astounding global growth of microfinance — the business of giving small loans to poor entrepreneurs, of which SKS Microfinance is a notable practitioner.

Advocates also find intellectual support for the idea from the work of business management professors like the late C. K. Prahalad, who have argued that large corporations can do well and do good by aiming at people at the so-called bottom of the pyramid.

Besides Mr. Khosla, entrepreneurs like Pierre Omidyar, a co-founder of eBay, and Stephen M. Case, a co-founder of America Online, have started funds with similar aims.

But Mr. Khosla, 55, who moved to the United States from India as a graduate student in 1976, has another motive, too. He wants to goad other rich Indians into giving away more of their wealth.

India’s torrid growth over the last decade has helped enrich many here — Forbes estimates that India now has 69 billionaires, up from seven in 2000 — but only a few have set up large charities, endowments or venture capital funds.

“It surprises me that in India there is not a tradition of large-scale giving and helping to solve social problems and set a social model,” Mr. Khosla said.

1 comment:

Rajan Alexander said...

Micro-Finance to Face Slow Painful Death. SKS Share to enter Free Fall. Sell, Sell, Sell!

SKS, the Indian micro-finance giant’s IPO was supposed to signal the coming of age of the micro-finance (MF). Instead, it contained the seed for the destruction of the entire industry. Their Rs 10 share on listing attracted a premium of Rs 975 and such was the investor confidence, it touched a high of Rs 1,490 in a matter of days. Then hell broke loose with the industry hit by charges of them profiteering and causing farmer suicides. Its reverberations were so strong that it had been felt by the industry all over the world. The stock plunged to Rs 890 before recovering to be a tad over its listing price and hovering around this range for the last one week. We expose the dark underbelly of a Frankenstein unleashed by NGOs.

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