Building Human Resources for the Micro-Finance Industry: Issues and Concerns

Topic :

This short paper outlines the implications for human resource development of the salient features of the micro-finance industry. The first point to note is the diversity of functions required, e.g. developing new financial products, initiating policy dialogue, delivering credit plus services but on the other hand there is a need for standardised operating procedures. To manage operations on the scale that is required, very highly trained manpower will be needed.

As micro-finance is about finance, all staff will need some detailed training in finance. This component of training acquires significance from the fact that large majority of microfinance institutions have emerged from development background, with most of their staff inadequately trained in this area. This input needs to become more that just training in financial skills; it should be designed to help people think financially.

The second area, where training is going to be critical is the ability to work with people from disadvantaged sections of society. Most micro-finance institutions have strengths in working with communities but with mainstreaming and scaling up, these organisations will have to worry about how these skills can be transferred to a large number of new entrants, reasonably quickly. Training in information technology will also be significant for the micro-finance sector as changes in this field open the doors to many new feasible options.

Understanding the commercial viability of enterprises as clients move on from emergency and consumption-smoothing finance will become another training need. In addition as micro-finance practitioners handle the responsibilities of other people’s money, especially of vulnerable people, it will be important for them to understand the legal environment. SA-Dhan is an association of Community Development Finance Institutions in India which is developing an agenda of training to meet its members needs in all these areas.

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