Grama Vidiyal Microfinance Limited began with Chairman and Managing Director S. Devaraj’s reaction to the Grameen Bank of Bangladesh and its business practices. Wanting to secure microfinance as a tool to fighting poverty in Southern India, Devaraj set out to promote financial inclusion in the area in 1997. What evolved from his dream was the formation of Grama Vidiyal Microfinance Limited (GVMFL).
Today, GVMFL is one of the largest MFIs in the world due to its outreach and large credit portfolio. Its 3,500 employees currently serve one million households in five different states. GVMFL has disbursed $18 billion ($398 million USD) for various income generating activities. Its varied products and services offer customers economic sustainability and holistic female empowerment.
In addition to their financial services, GVMFL offers a wide array of activities and services. One of these is their Eye Camp, which is a program that gives members free medication and operations that they would otherwise be unable to afford.
They also participate in an event called Annadhanam. These events occur at the Head Office and supply the poor, disabled and disadvantaged with free food and drinks. These meals are also provided to members of GVMFL during loan disbursement.
GVMFL continuously manages an in-house unit that trains its staff, community leaders and female members on microfinance and development topics. These women are also taken to larger social networks or gatherings and given exposure. They are offered workshops and skill training opportunities as well.
Behind Grama Vidiyal’s success lies their satisfied customers. Ms. Tamil Selvi Rajendran, a former Coimbatore textile factory employee, used to work for “10 hours per day for supporting bread winning efforts of her husband, who is an electrician.” Because of her irregular hours, she was unable to spend much time with her children.
This struggle prompted Rajendran to become a member of GVMFL. Supported by the company’s loans, Rajendran was finally able to give up her former employment and move on to something new, something better: making gilt ornaments. Rajendran is now a successful female entrepreneur in her village with over 10 employees working in her business.
Another successful member of GVMFL is Ms. Menaka. A mother of two boys, Menaka is involved in the weaving business with her husband in Kumbakonam. She has taken out four loans with Grama Vidiyal and has been able to employ two more people. She now produces 8 to 9 sarees every month and earns 2,000 rupees weekly. She is not only a success in her village but a great success for the company of Grama Vidiyal.
– Samantha Davis