Chapter . Financing the Poor

The world’s poor traditionally are trapped in the dilemma of having neither money nor the means to borrow any. Microfinancing to the level of their needs has not been part of the agenda of formal banking, until now. For the poor in India, particularly in rural areas, ICICI Bank, the second-largest banking institution in the country, is beginning to convert the poorest of the poor into customers, and thus at the same time empower them.

Ms. Pundiselvi, in the village of Nahramalaiphur, for instance, procured a bank loan to lease a small parcel of land to raise chilies for cooking and flowers for decorative purposes. The cost of the land was 10,000 rupees ($200) for the season, and the seeds cost a few thousand rupees. ...

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