Dia Vikas Pvt. Ltd. (Dia Vikas) is a social microfinance investor, providing opportunities for people in poverty to transform their lives. We do this through investment and support for Indian microfinance institutions (MFIs) working in underserved areas. With core support from our parent organisation, Opportunity International Australia, and like-minded social investors, Dia Vikas partners with 12 MFIs who serve 2.75 million clients across 21 states and one union territory in India.
In this 2016 Update, we chart the progress of our partners in developing products, services and practices tailored to serving people in poverty. Highlights from our work in the last 12 months include:
- Expanding our outreach to 2.75 million clients living in poverty, charting a growth rate of 28% year on year
- Updated results from our partners’ client surveys demonstrating that our partners continue to reach vulnerable and excluded groups, including those living below $1.88 per day
- Our partners are further expanding the range of pro-poor services they offer. Innovations in the last year include the development of an education-focused loan by our largest partner, EMFIL
- Considering the implications of the Small Finance Banking License for our partners’ Social Performance Management programs
- Introducing an updated version of our SPI4 reporting tool. Using this tool, partners now report quarterly on key social indicators, and can benchmark their performance against their peers.
In 2017, Dia Vikas aspires to expand outreach to financially excluded women in India by partnering with more like-minded organisations working in underserved communities across the country. We will continue to support our partners in managing social performance as they adapt and evolve to meet changing client needs and an ever-changing operating environment.
We also strengthen our partners by leading them to a path of financial and operational independence while simultaneously keeping pace with their social goals. We achieve this by ensuring that our partners report targets and achievements against their social performance indicators to the Dia Vikas Board of Directors annually.
Implementing Best Practices
As at 31 March 2016, our partners have an outreach of over:
2.75M active borrowers, 2.64M savings accounts, 657K members with pension accounts and 4.28M members with life and health insurance coverage – adding to a total outreach of 7.6M individual clients, with close to 80% of this outreach being in rural areas.
This coverage extends across:
21 states and 1 union territory and 246 districts, including 43 among the 100 most backward districts of India.
The aggregate loan outstanding of Dia’s partners as on 31 March 2016 is Rs.41,587M.
Dia Vikas is reaching out to the poorest in the following underserved/poorest states of India.
|State||Number of Partners||PARTNERS|
Dia partners also operate in seven North Eastern States, being some of the most backward and unreached geographies of India.
Who We're Reaching
Dia Vikas’ mission is to provide opportunities for people in poverty to transform their lives. We achieve this by collaborating with our 12 partners:
- In the poorest, largely underserved regions – serving a market that exhibits a gap
- With conditions that are favourable for microfinance and have sound future strategies to deepen outreach and broaden services that demonstrate commitment to responsible practices for client protection and staff satisfaction.
To ensure we are achieving our social mission, we need to understand our clients’ circumstances when they join our partners’ programs. Low income is a factor in poverty, but so too is the lack of access to basic services often experienced in rural areas that can lead to increased vulnerability to shocks, such as unforeseen health care needs and the associated costs. Among those living in poverty in India, women are significantly affected and reflect a higher level of exclusion from essential services. Data on these dynamics can help our partners understand and improve their outreach and better serve those in need. For this reason, Dia Vikas has a strong focus on reaching women and rural clients along with people belonging to scheduled castes, scheduled tribes or other backward classes.
Across our portfolio, almost 100% of clients are women and over 80% live in rural areas.
Percentage of rural clients as at 31 March 2016
What we've learned
Four out of five of our clients live in rural areas. This result reflects the percentage of population in India that are rural. It also shows an increase over the last 12 months in our partners successfully targeting poor communities and families in rural areas.
Why this matters
Over 80% of the poor in India, living below the National Poverty Line (Tendulkar methodology), are rural. As four out of five of our clients live in rural areas, this is a strong confirmation that as a social investor we are meeting our goal to provide key services to remote and underserved areas of India. We also note that a number of our partners are focused on reaching the poor and underserved in urban and semi-rural areas, and this is reflected in the results.
Percentage of scheduled castes (SC), scheduled tribes (ST) and other backward classes (OBC) as at 31 March 2016
What we've learned
Three out of four clients belong to scheduled castes, scheduled tribes or other backward classes.
Why this matters
In 2005 these groups accounted for 69% of India’s total population including 28% being members of scheduled castes and scheduled tribes and 41% to other backward classes. This compares to three out of four of our clients being members of these groups. This is a strong confirmation that as a social investor we are meeting our goal to provide key services to the disadvantaged women of India.
The latest data from 2015/16 shows our partners’ outreach is generally successful in targeting poor communities and families with a likelihood of living below $1.25 and $1.88 per day*. Using this social data, management can make informed decisions about their services based on objective evidence that the organisation is reaching people living in poverty.
Percentage of clients living below $1.25 a day
What we've learned
Two out of five new clients surveyed in 2015/16 were living below $1.25/day when they joined our network.
Why this matters
276 million people in India live below the $1.25 poverty line. The $1.25 poverty line captures the ultra and the very poor in India. People living below the poverty line are the most underserved, having lower debt servicing capacity, and are costlier to reach by the MFIs. There remains sufficient scope to expand in this segment.
Percentage of clients living below $1.88 a day
What we've learned
Three out of four new clients surveyed in 2015/16 were living below $1.88/day when they joined our network.
Why this matters
800 million poor people in India live below $1.88/day**. The $1.88/day poverty line is commonly used to capture the proportion of people living in poverty in India and is often the target population of microfinance organisations in the country.
Source(s): Government of India (2006, 2007/08, 2013), Grameen Foundation (2009, 2016), IFAD (undated), partner data (2015), World Bank (2014)
* $1.25/day and $1.88/day refers to the World Bank’s international poverty line based on daily consumption falling below $1.25 per day and $1.88 per day (at 2005 purchasing power parity).
** 2009 figure
How We Are Helping
While it is vital to collect feedback from clients, it’s even more vital that this information is acted upon. This means responding to clients’ voices by tailoring better products and services to meet the needs of the families we serve.
All our partners provide what we call microfinance plus services, which involves a wide range of financial products, including credit, savings, pensions and insurance, but also non-financial services like business and life skills training, health training and other interventions. Additionally, all our partners systematically review and report back client data to the credit bureau for borrowers’ current debt levels and repayment history to assess the client repayment capacity prior to disbursement at each loan cycle.
We help people living in poverty to support themselves in their elderly years, strengthening financial security and increasing dignity in their later years. Dia Vikas’ partners have been offering a micropension product since 2010 through the Government of India’s NPS Lite/ APY Pension Scheme. Currently, seven partners are offering the product – the MFIs collect payments from clients and put their deposits into the government-approved pension fund. At 31 March 2016, 656,061 clients were enrolled under this scheme.
We help families to build their resilience and plan for the future. Currently, four of Dia Vikas’ partners offer a savings product to their clients through the Business Correspondent model. This scheme enables the MFIs to open savings accounts with commercial banks on behalf of clients. As a result, clients are able to access a secure, interest-bearing savings account. At 31 March 2016, 2,639,006 clients were enrolled in these savings accounts which represents a 16% increase since 2015.
Clients identify some of the most common causes of decline to their well-being as death, injury, or illness of an income earner, natural disasters and theft. Insurance provides them with protection against these risks at a cost lower than self-insuring through savings by the clients. As at 31 March 2016, 4,284,161 clients were provided with life and health insurance cover.
Water and Sanitation Loans
In order to address problems caused by drinking water contaminated by poor sanitation practices, eight of Dia Vikas’ partners offer or are piloting tailored loans for the building of water and sanitation infrastructure in poor families’ homes and communities. These loans fund the construction of toilets, household water connections, water purifiers, water tanks, water pumps and toilet repair. As at 31 March 2016, six partners had disbursed 39,666 Water and Sanitation Loans.
To provide access to clean lighting and energy for cooking purposes, five of our partners offer loans to finance solar lights, LPG connections and biogas stoves. As at 31 March 2016, 44,389 energy loans have been disbursed.
For details about our Education Loans and Health Training partnership with the Healing Fields Foundation refer to the Snapshot stories below.
|Products and services (31 March 2016)||Loan
|Number of branches||Number of credit products|
|% change from 2015||28%||16%||-9%||6%||16%|
|Products and services (31 March 2016)||Income
Creating Opportunities for India with a small banking license
Two of our partners, EMFIL and RGVN(NE), were granted permission to become Small Finance Banks in 2015, largely due to their focus on providing financial services to the underserved population of India. Being a Small Finance Bank (SFB), they will be able to provide the complete suite of financial services to their clients without limitations normally imposed on MFIs. The SFBs will offer a holistic product suite comprising primarily of savings and credit as well as the distribution of insurance, pensions, mutual funds, payment/remittance facilities and access to ATMs for clients excluded from the mainstream financial system. This will provide end-to-end services to the clients and lead to improved customer loyalty as clients do not want to compromise their access to high quality, secure savings services. An increased range of products gives people living in poverty the tools they need to manage fluctuations in their income and expenses, and protect themselves against risk.
Tell us about EMFIL’s journey from a microfinance institution to a Small Finance Bank.
EMFIL’s journey has been embedded with the mantra ‘creating opportunities for all to grow, participate and contribute towards the growth of one’s family and economy as a whole’. Starting as a development organisation (NGO), EMFIL addressed the unemployment issues of youth and then moved forward to impart career guidance programs. EMFIL formed groups of women in a Self Help Group (SHG) mode and provided them with credit and training on Micro Enterprise Development. Later in 2007, EMFIL acquired the status of a Non-Banking Financial Company (NBFC) and microfinance was expanded to cover states in central India. New loan products were also introduced to meet the myriad of needs of the clients. At present more than 15 loan products are offered to clients. EMFIL successfully built relationships with state and national governments and also with global partners like the World Bank and the International Labor Organization to implement various projects to benefit the clients. As a lender, EMFIL could effectively work on areas of education, health, livelihood generation, environmental protection etc., so as to enable our clients to improve their standard of living and come out of their low poverty levels. More than 200,000 clients are reached every year with CEEP-Client Education and Empowerment Programs. Nearly 50% of EMFIL’s branches are located in backward districts and 76% of the clients are poor. The pro-poor approach coupled with building bottom-up governance and strengthening the community stake has gone a long way in bringing positive transformation in the lives of the clients.
How will EMFIL continue to commit itself to achieving its social mission after receiving the Small Finance Bank License?
EMFIL will continue to commit itself to achieving its social mission of client-centricity as it is key to EMFIL’s delivery of products and services. The Small Finance Bank License will give an added edge to serve the customers with additional services like larger loans that fit into the needs of graduate clients and also deposits and savings that meet the immediate and long-term needs of the low income customers. The customer segment will still be largely poor and hence pro-poor factors in strategic design and planning will be key. The staff carry the vision and mission of EMFIL close to their work culture and hence the new structure will not bring any major change in its approach.
For banks, profitability is key. Then there will be cost escalations. How will EMFIL focus on their existing clients and become the provider of a large suite of financial services (including savings) for them?
From EMFIL’s inception as a non-profit society, operational self-sufficiency was a focus along with social and environmental sustainability, and we continued with the same ethos even after we transformed to a for-profit regulated MFI so we will continue with our triple bottom line approach. Moreover, over the years EMFIL has proved that financial services to the bottom of the pyramid customers can be done profitably!
EMFIL shall not make any compromise with services and products that it is offering to its existing clients. Instead it will add ones extending the scope of microfinance such as deposits, savings etc. The economies of scale and widened reach shall enable EMFIL’s Small Finance Bank to make reasonable profit that can meet our costs. Bigger loan tickets and financial services for general public and high-end customers shall enable profits to be passed to the existing clients in a way that still enable a large suite of financial services to be affordable.
How does EMFIL use social performance management?
EMFIL has clear policies that call for a balance between financial, social and environmental objectives and has laid the foundation for sustainable and long-term goals that embed Social Performance Management (SPM) in the very DNA of the organisation. The SPM department shall continue to support the management by bringing client insights through research and feedback. It shall also continue to monitor and review its social targets and work intensely towards reaching the clients in a way that is supported by technology and keeps customers at the core of all its activities.
Building Pathways to better education
Dia Vikas recognises the pivotal role education plays in sustainable development by breaking the intergenerational transmission of poverty. Recognising this need, EMFIL is one of six partners that introduced an education-focused financial product called the Vidya Jyoti Loan in mid-2014.
Poor families struggling to make ends meet can struggle to finance the cost of their children’s education. Nevertheless, these same clients want to offer the best education to their children, as they believe that it is through education that their children can break the cycle of poverty that has trapped them for generations. Even in states that offer free primary education, direct costs are often passed on in the form of charges for books, uniforms, exam fees, transport etc. These costs can reach up to 20% of a family’s income and usually require payment all at once at the beginning of the school year.
Progress to Date
As at 30 September 2016, total Vidya Jyoti loan accounts are 30,455. This represents a 353% growth year on year, demonstrated in the graph below.
Research helps us to understand reasons for loan utilisation and shows encouraging evidence of its benefit. A survey was carried out by EMFIL across 130 beneficiaries of the Vidya Jyoti Loan from 13 branches in Kerala including telephone and face-to-face interviews.
Profile of clients:
- 50% of the beneficiaries surveyed had completed five years with EMFIL and 5% among them were single parents (widows).
- Clients reported no gender discrimination – 56% of clients had utilised the education loan for their daughters’ education while 44% used it for their sons’ education.
- 80% of clients had two children (or less) and 20% had three (or more) children which reflects the trend across India towards smaller families.
- 65% of clients’ children studied in government-run schools while 35% went to private schools.
Benefits of the loan:
- 81% of clients reported that the loan was highly useful to meet the educational expenses of their children, unlike previous years when they had to borrow money from their relatives or friends to meet the upfront cost at the time of the school re-opening.
- In particular, clients believed that the loan would enable their daughters to pursue higher education when they might otherwise drop out of college due to financial stress.
Case Study: Maya's Story
Maya lives in Wadi, Maharashtra. She is a widow and a mother of two girls aged 12 and 8 who have special learning needs. Since her husband passed away Maya took charge of the family grocery store.
With the help of the Vidya Jyoti education loan from EMFIL she has been able to continue to send her daughters to their special needs school so that they can continue to learn essential life skills that teach them to be independent. Recently Ashwini, her eldest daughter, has been able to help her mother in arranging the stock in the store which gives Maya hope that her girls will have a brighter future.
Improving Health Knowledge And Well-Being
Each year, some 150 million people worldwide face financial catastrophe due to unexpected health expenses – and 63 million of these people live in India. A 2015 Government of India report states, “the incidence of catastrophic expenditure due to health care costs is growing and is now estimated to be one of the major contributors to poverty”.
As well as providing financial products and services that protect clients against unexpected health crises, our partners increasingly provide a range of health-related services, from health education to Water and Sanitation loans. Our partnership with Healing Fields Foundation in India has reached over 3 million individuals since 2012, leading to better access to health services and improvements in health outcomes.
HOW WE’RE HELPING
Access to toilets and improved water sources varies by region. In parts of India, over half the clients still practise open defecation.
1.8 billion people globally access drinking water contaminated by faeces
59% of the 1.1 billion people in the world who practice open defecation live in India
Over the last five years, Opportunity’s partnership with Healing Fields Foundation has trained health leaders to deliver education within their communities.
2,866 women trained as health leaders
3,582,500 people reached with health education Opportunity’s health program in India seeks to improve health outcomes through greater awareness and increased access and affordability of preventative health services.
71% of community members changed their behaviour following health training. The latest results demonstrating this include:
- 393,000 families accessed hospital care
- 2,500 health savings groups formed
- 14,500 toilets constructed
Case Study: Radhika's Story
As an Opportunity client, Radhika was offered the chance to train as a community health leader.
Educated in illness prevention, basic first aid and nutrition, she has provided health education to hundreds of families in her community.
To make this work sustainable, Radhika earns additional income by arranging loans for toilets and clean water supply and selling sanitary napkins to prevent infection and encourage girls not to miss school during their period.
Radhika has also built a toilet in her home and planted a kitchen garden to improve her family’s health and safety.
Developments in Data Reporting
SPI4 Social Performance Management Benchmark Report Extract - RGVN(NE)
The critical link between collecting social data and using it effectively is the ability of our partners to produce timely and relevant reports. These reports can highlight important changes in client needs and behaviour that can help inform management and Board decision-making for future products and services as well as update funders about the impact we are having on clients’ lives.
In 2016, Dia Vikas introduced quarterly reporting of standardised social data based on the partner’s assessment of their performance against the Universal Standards of Social Performance Management (USSPM). To further improve the usage of this data, we worked with CERISE to create benchmark reports for partners to compare their results with their regional and global peers. Here is an extract from our partner, RGVN(NE)’s benchmark report.
View this link for two examples of SPM dashboards developed by EMFIL and Samhita used to further communicate their social data to support informed decision-making based on client needs.
Continuous Learning and Improvement to Evolve Our Strategy
Effective financial services are dependent on listening to the clients’ voices and adapting products, services, and the way in which they are delivered to meet clients’ needs. Our research and social data provides evidence to answer questions about:
- The Need: Are we really reaching people living in poverty with our services?
- The Response: Are we meeting our clients’ needs?
- The Impact: Are we transforming their lives?
Our partners share a commitment to learning and improvement that drives data collection, analysis and reporting from their clients to answer these questions through client surveys administered in the course of their work. In the past year, our partners have surveyed over 300,000 clients.
Given the significant volumes of survey data generated by our partners, it is important that we, and our partners, are able to analyse and interpret results. In 2016, we funded a pilot of a data visualisation and business intelligence tool at our partner Cashpor. This tool automated analysis of data, reducing time taken between data capture and data use and enabling more informed decision-making at Cashpor.
We are evaluating the significance of this tool and hope to eventually roll it out to other partners in our network.
Since we introduced the CERISE Opportunity SPI4 Reporting tool we have been able to more effectively monitor social performance across our network of partners. Key benefits of SPI4 are:
- Clear reporting expectations
- Easy to identify gaps in current practices to work with our partners to improve policies and practices through technical assistance
- Consistent comparison of results, using key indicators, to previous quarters as well as across our partners
Improved reporting to our funders and other stakeholders including regular quarterly reports.
In 2016 we worked with CERISE to introduce social performance benchmarking reports (refer to page 10). These reports enable partners to compare themselves with peers, promoting improved practices using the USSPM.
Dia Vikas acknowledges the contribution of many stakeholders to our SPM efforts. We work closely with our parent organisation, Opportunity International Australia, which promotes SPM across a global network of microfinance partners. In particular, we would like to thank the Macquarie Group Foundation for their support of our SPM Program.
Dia Vikas Capital Pvt. Ltd.
Unit No. 519, 530, 531
Tower B, Spazedge
Sector 47, Sohna Road
Gurgaon - 122018, India
Thank you to the Macquarie Group Foundation for their support of the
Social Performance Management Program.