BISWA: Fostering Inclusive Growth through Microfinance

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This case study was compiled from published sources, and is intended to be used as a basis for class discussion. It is not intended to illustrate either effective or ineffective handling of a management situation. Nor is it a primary information source.

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Case Details:


Case Code : LDEN077 For delivery in electronic format: Rs. 500;
For delivery through courier (within India): Rs. 500 + Shipping & Handling Charges extra


Inclusive Business Models / Entrepreneurship / Social Entrepreneurship / Inclusive Growth

Case Length : 26 Pages
Period : 2004-2010
Pub Date : 2011
Teaching Note : Available
Organization : BISWA
Industry : Microfinance
Countries : India


This case study details the challenges faced by Khirod Chandra Malick (Malick), founder and Chairman of Bharat Integrated Social Welfare Agency (BISWA), and his team in carrying BISWA's microfinance program forward. In addition to introducing the students to the concept of Microfinance and triggering a discussion on the various issues and challenges involved in operating a Microfinance program, the case study is designed to allow the students and the instructor to examine the decisions that Malick and his team could take to overcome the challenges. BISWA, an India-based social service organization, had focused on microfinance as one of the interventions to facilitate its mission of social development. Malick felt that adopting an integrated approach by bringing about the convergence of microfinance, micro entrepreneurship, micro marketing, micro insurance, and other social development initiatives, could help reduce poverty and spur inclusive growth.

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BISWA, which initially operated as an NGO Microfinance Institution (MFI), also established a Non Banking Financial Company in 2006 to carry forward its microfinance program. As of mid-2010, BISWA had established a presence in 16 states in India and had directly touched the lives of more than four million people who were usually considered non-bankable. Malick planned to establish a presence in nearly all the states of India by the end of 2012 and create one million job opportunities. However, to do this, Malick and his team had to overcome various challenges - challenges such as how to ensure that the poorest of the poor would benefit from their microfinance program; what types of new financial services they should introduce and how to motivate the poor people to adopt these services; how to strike the right balance between expansion and consolidation of the microfinance program; how and from which sources to mobilize funds; and, how to strike the right balance between its social mission and business objectives which were often in conflict with each other.

The case has been prepared from primary sources. It has been prepared by conducting in-depth interviews with key personnel at BISWA and some of its stakeholders (clients/beneficiaries). This case has been written to facilitate classroom discussions for MBA/MS-level students as a part of their Entrepreneurship/Social Entrepreneurship curriculum. Additionally, this case study can be used (with a teaching note modified by the instructor for the purpose) in a core strategy curriculum.


The case focuses primarily on social entrepreneurship - issues in managing growth and continuity of a social enterprise, including venture financing. It covers the different aspects of social entrepreneurship, the issues and challenges in the field, and the ethical debate on profit vs. altruism with respect to an MFI, which is considered to be a social business. The case will help the students to: 1) Understand various issues and challenges in managing the growth and continuity of an entrepreneurial venture, especially a social venture; 2) Understand the issues and constraints in financing a venture at various stages of its development, especially a social venture; 3) Understand the working capital problems faced by the poor (especially the rural poor) and see how these problems can be solved through microfinance; 4) Evaluate and analyze the impact of microfinance as a poverty reduction tool; 5) Understand the various issues and challenges faced by MFIs operating in India, and how BISWA overcame these challenges; 6) Study the operating model adopted by BISWA and evaluate whether its microfinance program is sustainable; 7) Understand the various issues and challenges faced by MFIs, especially NGO MFIs such as BISWA, in striking the right balance between their social mission and ensuring financial sustainability of the organization; 8) Explore ways in which the senior management team at BISWA can overcome these challenges.


  Page No.
Introduction 1
Microfinance in India 2
About BISWA 3
BISWA's Microfinance Activities 5
Formation of Self Help Groups 6
Loan and Repayment 7
Formation of Self Help Federations 8
Promoting an NBFC 8
An Integrated Approach 9
Results 10
Looking Ahead 11
Exhibits 12


Microfinance, Entrepreneurship, Social entrepreneurship, Venture financing, Ethical debate on profit vs. altruism, Managing the growth and continuity of an entrepreneurial venture, Inclusive growth, Inclusive business models, Business level strategy, Corporate Strategy, Poverty Alleviation, Empowerment, Rural Financing, Self Help Group (SHG)

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