5 Indian Microfinance firms Catalyzing Women's Empowerment

By: Ayushi Dutta, Correspondent

Microfinance offers financial assistance like loans and insurance to marginalized communities without traditional banking, aiming to alleviate poverty and empower them, especially women, through micro-enterprises.

Microfinance companies are emerging as change agents in India's vast and varied landscape, where entrepreneurial aspirations flourish in even the most remote corners, particularly for women who want to start small-scale businesses. These financial institutions are essential to close the gap of gender biases as they not only provide capital but also support women working in the unorganized sector to become economically independent and empowered.

The strategical way to fulfill particular requirements can be easily accomplished by microfinance companies which goes beyond conventional banking where people can conveniently take financial assistance for their micro businesses.

Women’s Role in Microfinance Companies:

India's financial landscape is undergoing a significant transformation as women become key architects of change in the microfinance sector, promoting financial inclusion, empowerment, and resilience, and transforming the narrative of sustainable impact.

The Women microfinance firms offer a unique approach to financial inclusion, combining financial support, mentorship, skill development, and community-building initiatives to support women entrepreneurs in small-scale businesses.

Let us know about some of the top Indian women-led microfinance companies that are paving the way to support women in India.

Mann Deshi Mahila Sahakari Bank, Chetna Gala Sinha

Mann Deshi Mahila Sahakari Bank, Chetna Gala SinhaIn rural India, Mann Deshi Mahila Sahakari Bank serves women as a cooperative bank. The economist and social activist Chetna Gala Sinha founded it in 1997 to give rural women simple access to specialized banking services and products. The bank is committed to empowering women by assisting them in gaining financial independence and confidence.

They provide doorstep banking, customized products, and flexible and reasonably priced loan products based on their in-depth knowledge of the needs of rural women. The bank understands women's micro-businesses, providing tailored services and products. It also supports women through the Mann Deshi Foundation, offering market access and business skills development.

Spandana Sphoorty Financial Limited, Padmaja Reddy

Spandana Sphoorty Financial Limited, Padmaja Reddy

Spandana Sphoorty Financial Limited (SSFL) is a microfinance institution that provides financial assistance for economic empowerment. Padmaja Reddy, who has been honored with multiple awards, including the Inclusive Finance India Award in 2017, for her work advancing women's entrepreneurship, founded the company. With over 20 years of experience in the microfinance sector, Padmaja is a devoted professional known for her extraordinary personality, creative thinking, and leadership abilities.

Padmaja says, "Get into an entrepreneurship role if you have passion and commitment in you. When you become an entrepreneur, several people rely on you, and it’s your job to fulfill their goals along with yours. Apart from that, whatever the situation is, never give up. Challenges are temporary, face them and you’ll rise again stronger than ever."

MahilaSewa Cooperative Bank, Elaben Bhatt

MahilaSewa Cooperative Bank, Elaben Bhatt

MahilaSewa Cooperative Bank is a women’s cooperative bank that was established in 1974 in Ahmedabad, Gujarat, India. Social worker and activist Elaben Bhatt established the bank to give self-employed women workers and producers who had been involved in the economy but lacked access to financial services access to financial services.

The bank offers financial services like savings accounts, fixed deposits, loans, and remittances, with a unique organizational structure that empowers women by providing financial independence. The bank has been recognized for its significant role in promoting women's entrepreneurship, winning the Inclusive Finance India Award in 2017.

Annapurna Microfinance Pvt. Ltd, Dr. Medha Purao

Annapurna Microfinance Pvt. Ltd, Dr. Medha Purao

One of the top ten NBFC-MFIs in India is Annapurna Microfinance Pvt. Ltd., a microfinance institution that was founded in 2009 by Dr. Medha Purao. The company offers financial support for economic empowerment and specializes in loans that are only given to women. Additionally, the MFI focuses on clients who might otherwise face obstacles in obtaining financial products, including widows, single parents, individuals with disabilities, and transsexuals.

At their doorstep, the company provides loans for home improvement, insurance, small businesses, and agriculture. By 2027, they hope to enable 40,00,000 low-income women and households to secure their financial future.

Sugamya Finance Pvt Ltd, Vikas Singh

Sugamya Finance Pvt Ltd, Vikas Singh

Sugamya Finance Pvt Ltd. led by Vikas Singh, facilitates India's access to credit. The company provides consumer durable loans, microloans (IGL & BL), and MSME loans as its three main financial services.

Through its network presence of 80 branches in 40 districts across 9 states, it has so far empowered over 60,000 homes. Sugmya has been crucial in helping these families' perspectives change. The company's loan options highlight the importance of microfinance by empowering women to manage their finances and fostering self-employment.

Vikas says, "Social and patriarchal norms play a large role when it comes to providing access to financial services. Women must be promoted and supported with an increased focus on equality through education and productive employment. As per IBEF (India Brand Equity Foundation), 20.37 percent of women are MSME owners and make up 23.3 percent of the labor force in India. This means that unless women are not encouraged to pursue entrepreneurship, our economic progress will remain incomplete and impossible."