Published On:10 May 2012
Posted by Indian Muslim Observer

Delhi-based NGO Sahulat holds National Consultation on Interest free Microfinance through Cooperatives

IMO News Service

New Delhi: A National Consultation on “Interest Free Microfinance through Cooperatives: Challenges and Opportunities” was organized by Sahulat Microfinance Society, a Delhi based national level NGO, to dwell on the possibilities of interest free microfinance through cooperatives, on 8th May 2012 at India International Centre, New Delhi.

The “Father of Green Revolution” Prof. M S Swaminathan delivered the keynote address. Dr. (Ms.) Syeda Saiyedain Hameed, Member Planning Commission was the Chief Guest. The consultation was a rich discourse where various ideas, potentials, challenges and concerns related to Interest Free Microfinance Model were outlined and articulated by 60 participants. These participants, richly experienced in the areas of poverty alleviation and livelihood, were from varied domains like cooperatives, microfinance institutions, academics, non-government organisations.

The Consultation began with welcome speech of Arshad Ajmal, Chief Executive Officer of Sahulat Microfinance Society followed by deliverance of issues of consultation by Dr Ausaf Ahmad, board member of the society. Prof M S Swaminathan emphasized on the need of piloting the model of IFMF in a country like India which always has a high credit demand. He shared that the Government of India has identified 35 districts as areas of agricultural distress (where farmers suicide in large numbers) and labelled these districts as “Agrarian Hotspots”. In the light of this he proposed an urgent need to try out the model of IFMF in these areas, with contextual approach and strategies. He suggested that the model should be an Integrated one which shall provide a strong credit link together with other support mechanisms for sustainability. Thus emphasizing that, Interest Free Microfinance does not mean Cost free or Return free Microfinance. It can rather be built into an effective tool for poverty alleviation.

Dr. (Ms.) Syeda Saiyedain Hameed highlighted the relentless pursuance of women in the current framework of Microfinance which results in distress and suicides by women which are apparently less talked about. She critically placed the idea of “Gender Neutral Credit” on the table. Referring to the increasing understanding of feminisation of poverty, she said, it is important to take into account the issues of women while designing the strategies for IFMF. She seconded the idea of piloting IFMF, elaborating its potentials in the naxalite affected districts as well as 90 minority concentrated districts in India.

The program concluded with the vote of thanks by H. Abdur Raqeeb, General Secretary of Indian Centre of Islamic Finance who is also the board member of Sahulat Microfinance Society.

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