The microfinance sector in Southern India has evolved to be more competitive. The Southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu, which has spawned several Self-Help Groups (SHGs), is a home to a wide range of Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) and Microfinance Institutions (MFIs). As more players, both NGOs and Non-Banking Financial Companies (NBFCs), foray into Tamil Nadu's vibrant microfinance sector, marketing strategies assume significance. Despite the influx of Grameen replicators and the drastic changes in the policy environment brought about by the recent microfinance crisis in Andhra Pradesh, Hand in Hand, an NGO providing microfinance, has succeeded in enhancing the loyalty of its SHG members. A qualitative study has been carried out on Hand in Hand's marketing strategies, wherein a senior executive and five microfinance clients participated. The socioeconomic impact brought about by Hand in Hand has also been discussed in detail.
Hand in Hand: An Introduction
Hand in Hand, which is the parent organization of Hand in Hand Microfinance Pvt. Ltd. focuses on five pillars to bring about a socioeconomic change at the Bottom of the Pyramid (BoP), namely, Self-Help Groups (SHGs), the environment, child labor elimination and education, healthcare and citizens' center enterprises (which are used to spread awareness of informational technology and civic issues). Microfinance is one of the core focus areas of Hand in Hand and all of its microloan borrowers are organized into SHGs.
The Hand in Hand microfinance model entails the formation of SHGs and monthly loan repayments as opposed to the weekly repayments mandated by Grameen replicators. The Self-Help Group (SHG) members gain an exposure to a wider gamut of social issues besides financial inclusion. Health camps and waste management have been implemented at the grassroots level by Hand in Hand. The NGO also has the backing of the state government of Tamil Nadu under the purview of the Mahilir Thittam scheme, wherein subsidies are provided for the disbursal of loans at a lower interest rate.
research questions have been addressed under the purview of the case study:
* What is the overarching role of marketing strategies under the ambit of Hand in Hand's microfinance operations?
* How have some of the marketing strategies helped Hand in Hand in enhancing outreach and client loyalty?
* How does Hand in Hand develop financial products and services to reach out to the BoP?
* How does Hand in Hand promote itself and build up its brand image for various stakeholders?
* How has Hand in Hand improved its service quality as a microfinance provider?
* What is the role of field officers in promoting Hand in Hand's products and services?
* How can clients, especially SHG representatives, play a more proactive role in marketing Hand in Hand?
* How have Hand in Hand's financial products and services impacted the clients socioeconomically?
The qualitative study consists of an in-depth analysis of Hand in Hand's marketing strategies and the socioeconomic impact of Hand in Hand's microfinance-led intervention on clients. Hand in Hand's Chief Operating Officer (COO) has shared his insights into a broad range of marketing-related issues. Five SHG members have also discussed their perspectives of the marketing strategy elements of Hand in Hand as well as the socioeconomic impact of microfinance. The COO and clients took part in structured in-depth interviews (refer Appendices 1 and 2). The field study was conducted during May 2011.
As the clients at the field were not conversant in English, the questionnaire was translated into Tamil and administered orally. The field interviews were conducted during SHG meetings convened in Perungulathur and Pammal, which are both semi-urban areas on the outskirts of Chennai, a metropolitan city in Tamil Nadu, Southern India. …
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