‘Global crisis has not affected micro-finance sector’

October 23rd, 2008 - 7:07 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Oct 23 (IANS) The global financial crisis has “not yet” affected the micro-finance sector though the future is uncertain, said the founder of a global Paris-based organisation promoting micro-finance here.”At the moment, there is no effect of funds for micro-finance projects, as there is no link right now with the global crisis,” French economist Jacques Attalli told reporters, adding: “You never know (about the future).”

A former advisor to French president Fran├žois Mitterrand, Attalli founded PlaNet Finance in October 1998, with the help of Grameen Bank founder and Nobel peace prize awardee Mohammad Yonus.

Ten years on, it has become the world’s largest non-profit institution that helps to ‘refinance’ micro-finance institutions in nearly 70 countries.

Attalli was in India in connection with a global summit on micro-finance and new technologies that ended Wednesday.

“Information Technology is not just for wealthy people, but crucial for development,” he said.

Attali is evangelical about mobile phones for extending development to the poorer sections, especially e-banking. Currently, his organisation has begun directing a joint project of Orange Telecom and the Melinda and Bill Gates Foundation to finance a project in mobile banking.

Interestingly, PlaNet Finance has been in India for several years, but has not been able to disburse “a single euro”.

Attali felt that India had to develop a congenial regulatory system to develop its micro-finance institutions.

“India is a very important country as far as micro-finance is concerned,” he said, adding that “financial inclusion in India was among the lowest in the world”.

In an index prepared by the Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations on financial inclusion, India had been ranked 50th, below countries such as China, Kenya and Morocco.

According to Attali, e-banking could be an effective vehicle in bridging that gap. “I am aware that there are some small projects going here on banking,” he said.

Incidentally, in a bid to increase mobile commerce, the central Reserve Bank of India has recently increased the cap on daily transactions through mobile.

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