IndUS Business Journal

Women accounting for 99 percent of microfinance borrowers in India

Mar 8, 2016 0

New Delhi–With women accounting for 99 percent of microfinance borrowers in India, a major change occurring in the financial system is the greater responsiveness of formal banking sector to articulated needs of the population, the government said on Tuesday.

“The culture is changing in India … there is a greater responsiveness to the articulated needs of the people,” Financial Services Secretary Anjuly Chib Duggal said while addressing the South Asia conclave on Financial Inclusion here, organised by the Microfinance Institutions Network (MFIN).

Noting that the recent banking licences granted by the Reserve Bank of India to Bandhan Bank and other small financial institutions, Duggal outlined the future scenario for last-mile reach of finance to the needy.

“We’re looking, in a time span of three to five years, at a hybridisation of delivery points, at high-touch banking institutions, with microfinance institutions being among them,” she said.

The secretary said that borrowers of microfinance, of whom 99 percent are women, are now being referred to as such, and no longer as “beneficiaries”, because they come with concrete business plans.

“We’re looking at realignments in the banking sector, we’re looking at chemists as banking points,” she said, pointing out that a recent banking licence had been granted to a pharmaceutical company.

India is a “cradle of microfinance” with seven out of every 10 borrowers from the country and as many as 32 million borrowers in this category, of whom 99 percent are women, said MIN chief executive Ratna Vishwanathan.Bangladesh comes next with 22 million such borrowers.

She said the conference had deliberately chosen to open on International Women’s Day on Tuesday.

“The regional conference on financial inclusion looks at facilitating cross-learning among stakeholders of South Asia Micro-entreprenaurs Network (SAMN), and explore the role improved access to finance can play in unlocking the economic potential of the region by contributing to job creation, especially by promoting entrepreneurship among the youth and women,” she said.

Duggal described the microfinance culture as one “coming from the heart” that has enabled “opening up the mind to what people can do”.

“Microfinance institutions have given permissions to people, explicit and implicit, especially to traditionally disadvantaged sections like women. This impact has had the effect of motivating other people,” she said.

She cited the example of the Mudra Bank launched late last year to develop entrepreneurship, particularly among the disadvantaged sections.

Mudra, she said, had become a “runaway success” having already disbursed loans of Rs.1,15,000 crore.

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Rockefeller Foundation to provide $4.5 million to OMC Power

Mar 8, 2016 0

Chennai–The US-based Rockefeller Foundation will finance OMC Power to the tune of $4.5 million to construct and also retrofit 100 solar power plants with mini-grids in Uttar Pradesh, the Foundation announced on Tuesday.

The Rockefeller Foundation said in a statement that the arrangement is part of its Smart Power for Rural Development (SPRD) initiative to provide reliable power to 1,000 villages.

The financial deal with OMC Power is to build and retrofit solar power plants with mini-grids in rural Uttar Pradesh.

A mini-grid is a decentralised power distribution infrastructure. Renewable energy producing companies deploy mini-grids to provide electricity to villages where power access is either unavailable or inadequate.

“There is a need for significant investment in expanding off-grid energy access that can power both domestic and business activities, and the kind of financing we provide can enable committed companies such as OMC Power to build the mini-grid sector,” Ashvin Dayal, The Rockefeller Foundation’s associate vice President and managing director, Asia was quoted as saying in the statement.

“We are growing a sustainable rural utility business that not only creates value for our shareholders but also furthers energy access, entrepreneurship, economic development and social empowerment in rural India,” Rohit Chandra, managing director, OMC Power was quoted as saying in the statement.

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NRIs to set up Rs.1,300 crore healthcare project in Kochi

Mar 8, 2016 0

Kochi–Cochi Medi City and Tourism Pvt Ltd, promoted by a group of Qatar-based NRIs hailing from Kerala including medical professionals and businessmen, on Tuesday announced the setting up of a state of the art Rs.1,300 crore health care project here.

“It will be operational in three years time and provide 7,500 direct and 25,000 indirect employment opportunities,” the firm’s chairman Mohan Thomas Pakalomattom told reporters here.

Mohan Thomas Pakalomattom

Mohan Thomas Pakalomattom

This project has a vision of establishing a modern super-specialty hospital and healthcare system offering international standards of care at an affordable cost.

The project will be set up in 52 acres of land out of 140 acres that they possess and has been designed as an eco-friendly project according to vice chairman Mathew Francis Kattukaran.

Among the other facilities will be a 50-bed ayurvedic spa and a research centre to research on the ayurvedic medications and to develop appropriate drugs with the help of internationally benchmarked labs.

This venture promoted by a group of NRIs from the Middle East and the West, with a preliminary understanding with Mayo Clinic and Cleveland Clinic for providing technical support to the hospital.

“Many of the Indian doctors settled in the West have expressed their willingness to spend few months of their time in this hospital to train our doctors as a social commitment to their motherland who have given them their initial medical education,” said Mibu Jose Nettikkadan, director operations. (IANS)

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Women Occupy Just 14.9% of Senior Management Roles In Retail

Mar 7, 2016 0

LONDON — A study by the European Supermarket Magazine has found that female executives are seriously under-represented at the top level in the grocery retail and FMCG industries, with women occupying fewer than one in six positions on executive committees.

The study, released to coincide with International Women’s Day, found that 85.1% of the individuals on the executive committees at 150 retail and FMCG businesses were male, while just 14.9% were female.

Fig 1. Percentage of male executives (blue) and female executives (orange) on executive boards at retail grocery and FMCG companies

Fig 1. Percentage of male executives (blue) and female executives (orange) on executive boards at retail grocery and FMCG companies

In total, just four of the businesses featured in the study have an executive committee in which 50% or more are women (2.67% of companies).
Some 13 companies in the study have an executive committee in which a third or more are women (8.6% of companies), while 34 companies have an executive committee in which a quarter or more are women (22.67% of companies).
Meanwhile, 55 companies featured in the study had an executive committee that featured no women (36.67%).
“Within the European grocery business, women are hugely important, as the most important consumers targeted by retailers and brands,” said Kevin Kelly, chairman of ESM: The European Supermarket Magazine. “However, at the top level – at retailers, FMCG businesses and third party suppliers – women are significantly underrepresented, as this study demonstrates.

“On this, International Women’s Day, leading retailers and suppliers should take a step back, and examine ways to improve their gender balance – not as a token gesture, but as a means to bolster the future performance and profitability of their businesses.”

Fig. 2 Percentage of retail grocery and FMCG companies that have ‘50% or more’, ‘33% or more’, ‘25% or more’ or no women on their executive teams

Fig. 2 Percentage of retail grocery and FMCG companies that have ‘50% or more’, ‘33% or more’, ‘25% or more’ or no women on their executive teams

Notable companies with a significant number of female executives include Kleenex and Huggies producer Kimberly-Clark (five women on Senior Leadership Team, 62.5%), Diageo (seven women on Executive Committee, 43.75%); Russia’s X5 Retail Group (five women on Executive Committee, 38.46%); Swedish retailer Axfood (four women on Executive Committee, 36.36%); cosmetics and haircare brand L’Oréal (five women on Executive Committee, 31.25%), global food giant General Mills (seven women on Executive Committee, 31%) and Swedish paper products manufacturer SCA (six women on Organisation & Management Team, 30%).

A number of companies featured in the study also boasted a female chief executive, including Indra K. Nooyi at PepsiCo, Alison Cooper at Imperial Tobacco, Annikka Hurme at Finnish dairy firm Valio, Joanne Denny-Finch OBE at UK-based retail insights company IGD, Denise M. Morrison at Campbell Soup, Siobhán Talbot at Irish dairy giant Glanbia and Irene Rosenfeld at Mondelez International.

The study looked at a cross section of 150 businesses across the global grocery retail and FMCG businesses. Different terms were used across the study to designate the Executive Committee, including ‘Executive Board’, ‘Senior Management’, ‘Leadership Team’, ‘Operating Board’ and others, however, for the purposes of this release, we have applied the general term ‘Executive Committee’.

The 150 companies included in the study featured a total of 1,354 executive committee members. 1,152 of these were men (85.1%), and 202 were women (14.9%).

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Despite violence, Haryana goes ahead with global investors’ summit

Mar 5, 2016 0

By Jaideep Sarin

Chandigarh– Putting behind the mindless violence unleashed during the Jat protests for job quotas, Haryana is going ahead with the ‘Happening Haryana Global Investors’ summit to attract investment for the state.

Well-placed sources in the BJP government told IANS that Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar and others involved in the March 7-8 investment exercise,, however, had their fingers crossed as the widespread violence happened just over a fortnight before the summit dates.

Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar

Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar

“With shops, businesses and other institutions targeted by mobs and the police and administration failing to control the situation, Haryana’s image as an ideal investment destination has taken a big hit,” a senior Haryana bureaucrat told IANS here.

“Everyone is keeping their fingers crossed about the summit and its eventual outcome in terms of actual investment on the ground. The violence will definitely put off a lot of investors,” the officer said, requesting anonymity.

Despite the nine days of unrest and violence, Japan has proposed to become a partner country in the summit. This was telephonically conveyed to chief minister, Finance and Industries Minister Abhimanyu said.

He claimed that people of the state wanted to ensure the safety of the industries even during the violence.

“When the law and order situation in the state was disturbed, people protected the industries and drove away miscreants,” the minister said, trying to build confidence among future investors.

A number of Japanese and South Korean companies have invested in Haryana, especially in the Gurgaon-Manesar belt. The first big name to establish base in Haryana, Maruti-Suzuki, piloted by Japanese car maker Suzuki, was a runaway success in automobile sector.

The big names that have invested in Haryana include Honda, Canon, Yakult, Denso, Mitsubishi, Toyo, Daikin, Yokohama, Showa, Nippon, Kansai Paints, Asahi and Stanley.

Khattar has announced that 12 countries would participate in the first ‘Happening Haryana Global Investors’ Summit 2016′ being organised in Gurgaon on March 7 and 8. The summit is being organised by the Haryana government in association with Confederation of Indian Industry (CII).

China, Czech Republic, Japan, Malawi, Mauritius, New Zealand, South Korea, Peru, Poland, Spain, Britain and Tunisia are taking part as partner countries.

Khattar, who is hoping that the summit will be a “historic event”, is keen that more investment comes to the state.

Besides Japan and China, which he visited in January, Khattar travelled to the US and Canada last year. He did investment road shows in Kolkata, Chennai and Mumbai too in the past two months.

More than 800 entrepreneurs from India and other countries are expected to participate in the summit. Representatives of 140 foreign companies and diplomats will also attend.

“We are confident that the investment target set in the summit would be achieved,” Abhimanyu said.

Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley will inaugurate the two-day event on March 7. A number of union ministers are expected to attend.

China’s Wanda Group has decided to invest $10 billion in Haryana, the government claimed after Khattar’s Beijing visit.

But not everyone is hopeful.

“Many investors will develop cold feet after the recent violence. The Khattar government literally abdicated its responsibility. There was no administration. It was utter lawlessness,” Rajinder Saini, a businessman who suffered losses in the violence in Rohtak town, told IANS.

Trade and industry body Assocham projected the loss in the violence at around Rs 20,000-crore.

Following the violent incidents and its aftermath, the Haryana government cancelled the ‘Parvasi Haryana Divas’ that was to be held with the summit on March 9.

Rohtak town, 70 km from Delhi, suffered the brunt of the violence blamed on Jats with scores of buildings, shops, malls, hospitals, educational institutions and vehicles set on fire and extensively damaged.

Rohtak, Sonipat, Panipat and Jhajjar districts were the worst hit by the violence. Other affected districts included Bhiwani, Hisar and Kaithal.

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Primary Education Spending in India Declines, So Does Quality

Mar 5, 2016 0

By Chaitanya Mallapur

Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) — a national programme for universal elementary education — has seen Rs.115,625 crore ($17.7 billion) spent on it over the last five years — but the quality of learning has declined.

For instance, only a fourth of all children in standard III could read a standard II text fluently — a drop of more than 5 percent over five years, according to the 2014 Annual Status Report on Education (ASER).

Chaitanya Mallapur

Chaitanya Mallapur

The SSA received more than half the money (52 percent) in Finance Minister Arun Jaitley’s school-education allocation in the latest budget, but over the last five years, the SSA budget declined 6 percent — from Rs.23,873 crore ($4.4 billion) in 2012-13 to Rs.22,500 crore ($3.3 billion) for 2016-17.

Education is primarily the responsibility of states, but the central government directly finances 60 percent of education, through programmes such as the SSA. As many as 66 percent of India’s primary school students attend government schools or government-aided schools — the rest going to costlier private schools.

Of the money set aside for the SSA during 2015-16, only 57 percent was released till September 2015, according to an Accountability Initiative report.

While presenting his third budget earlier this week, Jaitley said nothing about the quality of education. The quality declines may be correlated with reduced funding, but they may not be caused only by a lack of money.

Less than one in five primary school teachers is adequately trained, IndiaSpend reported last year. The consequence is a marked decline in learning ability, in government and private schools.

The learning levels in government schools plummeted to a low of 41.1% in 2013 but recovered slightly to 42.2 percent in 2014, as IndiaSpend reported.

Similarly, with math, a quarter of children in standard III could not recognise numbers between 10 and 99, a drop of 13 percent over five years.

As much as 99 percent new elementary schools have been constructed of the 400,000 sanctioned since the launch of the programme in 2000-01 till September 30, 2015, according to this reply in the Lok Sabha (the lower house of Parliament) on December 7, 2015.

About 23 percent of schools surveyed by Accountability Initiative in 2015-16 needed to build at least one classroom in order to meet Right-to-Education norms. However, only 1 percent of schools received money from SSA during the financial year to construct new classrooms.

There are other gaps in the programme. The enrolment of girls has gone up from 48.12 percent in 2009-10 to 48.19 percent in 2014-15 at the elementary level. Many more girls clearly need to be enrolled. As many as 52 percent of boys are enrolled in primary schools.

The good news: Dropouts are down, highest in six to 14 age group

A 55 percent decline in dropouts was reported in the age group 6-14 years, from 13.46 million in 2005 to 6.1 million in 2013. The annual average primary school dropout rate declined from 6.8 percent in 2009-10 to 4.3 percent in 2013-14.

Mid-day meals in schools received Rs 9,700 crore ($1.4 billion), next only to SSA. About 102 million children across India in 2014-15 used the mid-day meal programme, the world’s largest school-feeding scheme.

As part of its rural initiatives, over the next two years, the government is also planning to open 62 new Navodaya Vidyalayas (New-age schools) in the districts without them.

The Navodaya Vidayalaya scheme was launched under the National Policy on Education 1986 to educate the best rural talent. There are 591 Navodaya Vidyalayas across India, according to data tabled in the Lok Sabha on December 7, 2015.

Navodaya Vidyalaya Samiti, which runs these schools, was allocated Rs.2,471 crore ($400 million) — an increase of 8 percent over last year.

Focus on higher education to strengthen infrastructure, but enrolments are low. The finance minister proposed setting up a Higher Education Financing Agency (HEFA) with an initial capital of Rs.1,000 crore ($146 million) to strengthen infrastructure in higher education.

The HEFA will be a not-for-profit organisation, which will use funds from the market and supplement them with donations and corporate social responsibility funds.

Higher education-including central and deemed universities-received the most money, Rs.7,997 crore ($1.2 billion), followed by the Indian Institutes of Technology (Rs.4,984 crore) and University Grants Commission (Rs.4,492 crore).

About 80 percent students were enrolled in undergraduate programmes, but only 0.3 percent (84,058 students) were enrolled for PhDs in 2012-13, a sign that research is weak and faltering, as IndiaSpend has reported.

Only 21 percent of young men and women aged 18 to 23 are enrolled for higher education. India’s enrolment rate in higher education is 18 percent below the global average of 27 percent and low compared to 26 percent in China and 36 percent in Brazil, a 2014 British Council report pointed out.

(In arrangement with IndiaSpend.org, a data-driven, non-profit, public interest journalism platform, where Chaitanya Mallapur is a policy analyst. The views expressed are those of India Spend.

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Google.org funds 3 Indian non-profit organisations

Mar 5, 2016 0

New Delhi–Google’s philanthropic arm Google.org on Friday announced grant funding of $8,00,000 to three Indian non-profit organisations to encourage and create more access and opportunity to people living with disabilities.

The three recipients are Ratnanhidi Charitable Trust, Leprosy Mission Trust India and Public Health Foundation India.

“Innovative technologies are already helping to improve everyday life for people living with disabilities. Through these grants, we want to empower organisations to build impactful solutions,” said Google India and Southeast Asia MD Rajan Anandan in a statement.

The grant funding is a result of global Google Impact Challenge for disabilities which aims to invest $20 million in non-profit organisations which deploy emerging technologies to enhance the independence of disabled people.

The funding will help Ratnanidhi Charitable Trust to provide a well-fitting artificial leg using 3D scanning and printing technologies and Leprosy Mission Trust India to make high quality protective footwear using 3D technology.

Public Health Foundation India will develop a mobile app for village healthcare workers to scrutinise eligibility to government disability benefits, the statement added.

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Indian SaaS sector set for quantum growth: Report

Mar 5, 2016 0

Bengaluru– The Indian Software as a Service (SaaS) sector, comprising small and medium businesses (SMB) is poised for a quantum growth by 2020, a joint report by Google & Accel Partners said on Friday.

“With demand for SaaS from SMBs in the US and Europe set to grow exponentially, Indian firms have the opportunity to earn eight percent ($6 billion) of the $76 billion by 2020,” it said.

The report, compiled by internet search engine Google and venture capital firm Accel, projects the global SaaS industry to double to $132 billion from $68 billion in 2015, accounting for 75 percent of the public cloud revenues.

SaaS is a software distribution model in which applications are hosted by a service provider (vendor) and made available to customers over the internet and licensed on a subscription basis.

As on-demand software, customers avail the service using a thin client through a web browser for business applications spanning diverse verticals. The service helps enterprises to reduce IT support costs by outsourcing its software and hardware maintenance to its vendors.

“Indian startups have an edge, as mobility is also becoming a key requirement by SMBs for SaaS. Our startups are building world class solutions for the mobile first users,” Google India managing director Rajan Anandan told reporters after releasing the report here.

With cloud computing emerging as the new technology wave, it had attracted a whopping $18-billion venture funding for purpose-built SaaS solution over the past four years, he said.

The report also projects that with domain expertise in engineering, inside sales, product management and mobile skillsets, Indian SaaS businesses are at an advantage to be profitable and scale quickly.

“India’s competitive advantages will help its SaaS firms grow strongly to command $50 billion in value by 2025,” the statement noted.

According to Accel India partner Shekhar Kirani, about 500 Indian SaaS firms, which generated combined revenue of $600 million in 2015, are poised to clock $2.5 billion by 2020 and $10 billion by 2025, growing at 30-35 percent annually.

“Many Indian SaaS startups are creating world class products for global SMB market. With smart entrepreneurs, local talent, favourable unit economics and a vibrant venture capital community in this space, we anticipate many billion-dollar firms in the next decade,” he said.

The report is based on interviews with Indian SaaS firms across segments, investors, system integrators and institutes during October-December 2015.

It also includes data from Google India primary research for SMB consumers and its search trends data since 2013.

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Key Indian equity indices log steepest gain in four years

Mar 5, 2016 0

Mumbai–As trading drew to a close on Friday, there were reasons to cheer as two key Indian equity indices logged their steepest weekly gain in four years, despite the jittery start on Monday as the initial market assessment of the national budget was positive.

The 30-share sensitive index (Sensex) of the BSE logged a gain of 6.44 percent during the week in review, while the 50-share Nifty of the National Stock Exchange (NSE) gained around 6.5 percent. In terms of absolute numbers, the 1,492-point rise in Sensex was the highest in seven years.

Bombay Stock Exchange-Wikipedia“The market has gained nearly 7 percent during this week as the fiscal consolidation plan is attracting foreign funds to the domestic market,” said Vinod Nair, the head of fundamental research at Geojit BNP Paribas.

“Foreign investors remain positive as the consensus is pointing to a significant upside on the US non-farm payroll data, which could provide clues on the rate hike direction of the US Federal Reserve,” Nair said in an end-of-the-week analysis.

During the week, foreign funds were net sellers in the equity space for the first two days and pulled out $84.95 million and $248.67 billion. But in each of the subsequent three days, they emerged net sellers — $442.68 million, $252.32 million and $164.65 million.

One of the most comforting factors of the budget, presented by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Monday, was the government’s resolve to adhere to fiscal prudence to bring down the deficit to to 3.5 percent in the next. The markets saw this as an opportunity for rate cuts.

“The government’s move to maintain fiscal shortfall target of 3.5 percent of the GDP for 2016-17, the smallest in nine years, has raised speculation of a near-term rate cut of at least 25 basis points, by the central bank to help power a revival in demand and investment,” Sharekhan said.

The other policy action that boosted sentiments was the decision to nurse state-run banks back to a sound fiscal health. The money provided in the budget towards their capital was just Rs.25,000 crore. But assurances of more money as and when required lifted the market mod.

In fact, among the 30 Sensex shares, State Bank of India was the best performer. Its shares were up as much as 20.58 percent at Rs.188.40 during the week. ICICI Bank followed suit with a gain of 19.29 percent at Rs.220.50. While Axis Bank gained 7.71 percent, HDFC Bank gained 6.38 percent.

The top loser was Oil and Natural Gas Corp, due mainly to the developments globally in the oil market. The company’s share fell 6.51 percent during the week. The markets discounted reports that the government was mulling a hike in oil and gas prices extracted from difficult areas.

This apart, Sun Pharma, Mahindra and Mahindra, Hindustan Lever were the only other stocks within the Sensex that lost ground during the week in a range of 1.59 percent and 0.24 percent. That is all the remaining 26 stocks ended in the positive territory.

Besides, the State Bank and ICICI Bank, Tata Steel emerged the third best performed with a gain of 16.08 percent at Rs.288.35, followed by Tata Motors, up 13.68 percent at Rs.343.55 and Bharat Heavy Electricals, up 12.78 percent.

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On Women’s Day, Air India to fly longest flight with all-women crew

Mar 5, 2016 0

New Delhi–Air India will commemorate International Women’s Day on March 8 by operating the longest all-women flight on its longest route on Sunday.

The Delhi-San Francisco flight, which will cover 7,831 nautical miles (approximately 14,500 km) in a total of 17 hours, is the first long-distance flight wholly operated and supported by an all-women crew, an airline official claimed.

Air India-WomenThe flight will be managed by a 14-member crew, apart from the four pilots led by Captain Kshamta Bajpai. The flight dispatchers and flight engineer will be women, while the line safety and safety audit will be conducted by women and the load and trim staff will also be women.

The aircraft used is Boeing 777-LR which is scheduled to take off at 02.35 a.m. on Sunday morning from Terminal 3 of the Indira Gandhi International Airport and travel at an average speed of 500 km per hour. It will return here on the International Women’s Day on Tuesday.

Additionally, the national carrier will operate 20 domestic flights with all-women crew on March 8.

Air India was the first airline to operate an all-women flight way back in 1985 to mark International Women’s Day, and last year it operated two all-women crew flights on the domestic and two on the international sectors.

“The national carrier (Air India) supports the cause of women in every area,” said Harpreet Singh Dey, president of the Indian Women Pilots’ Association.

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