Mainstreaming Banking through MFI-Business Correspondent model

Low-income populations in rural areas have remained financially excluded because serving them is commercially unviable for the banks. Our work on the MFI- Business Correspondent model is an important breakthrough to address this challenge. Combining the strengths of a commercial bank in designing and offering financial products with the reach of a microfinance institution to provide last mile access and induce behavior proved to be a game-changer and demonstrated that MFI- – Business Correspondent (BC)  could be a viable and scalable model to drive financial inclusion. With generous support from the Metlife Foundation, Grameen Foundation brought technical assistance to a leading MFI Margdarshak and helped it transition into an MFI-BC.

  • A Breakthrough for financial inclusion

    The Success of Margdarshak in using MFI- BC model to provide banking services in rural areas has opened the doors for over 45 million customers of microfinance institutions all over the country to access full banking services.

Scaling Digital Financial Services through Research and Innovation

Customer centricity and evidence based design are two of the distinguishing features of our approach that have consistently helped us achieve breakthroughs. Dormancy in usage of bank accounts is a sticky challenge. For banks, it means huge sunk cost, while intended users do not benefit from financial services. Our in-depth research with over 25,000 customers to understand the reasons behind the account dormancy broke new ground in understanding the relationship between household’s livelihood profile and its account usage. It provided a nuanced and segmented breakdown of account usage behavior. With generous support from J P Morgan, we tested effective approaches to drive account usage, including focus on the value proposition for the low- income customers, particularly women, use of IVR (interactive Voice Response) for nudges and reminders and use of a mobile based learning platform G-LEAP to drive financial education.

  • Economic Inclusion as a pathway for financial inclusion

    Understanding the relationship between the household livelihood profile and account usage was a new paradigm. It helped us to look at financial inclusion as an outcome of economic inclusion instead of the other way round, and brought the focus back on customer- centricity in financial education and inclusion efforts.

  • Product Development Incubator for Mass Market Banking

    Financial service providers are always on the lookout to develop innovative products and services for their clients. Shared insights give them vital ideas to customize their products according to client requirements. Grameen Foundation’s client-centric Product Development Incubator Program, introduced new products, shared insights and learnings about client behavior, all towards a goal of encouraging financial service providers (FSPs) to design and deliver client centric financial products. This incubator enabled Grameen Foundation through its partners to cater to a mass market of 100,000 clients who lived below $2.50/day poverty line.

Digital Inclusion via Education (DIVE)

Achieving sustained behavior change in adoption and usage of digital financial services is a critical breakthrough for the Digital Inclusion via Education (DIVE) project. Combining digital financial literacy with convenient access, building trust through local female agents called “Grameen Mittra” recruited from within the community, providing nudges and reminders through repeated door to door visits and assisted transactions for carefully identified use cases has created to a silent digital revolution in remote parts of Vidarbha region that has already impacted 250,000 people. With generous support from Citi India, the DIVE project is being further scaled to reach an additional 500,000 people.

As of January 2020, 340 Mittras have facilitated transactions worth more than 2.8 million Indian Rupees (US$40579), demonstrating significant pent-up demand for digital banking among poor populations in India. Mitras are also transforming their own lives by learning new skills, generating new income and increasing their financial independence.

  • Grameen Mittras at the heart of driving sustained behavior change

    ‘Harsha Dongre’, is affectionately called “TEZ BANK” in her village. And this is not just because she helps people access financial services at their doorstep. They don’t have to forego a day’s wage just to visit a bank, as they can access all their banking services right at their doorstep with help from ‘Harsha’. Trained as a Grameen Mittra by the DIVE project, ‘Harsha’ is particularly appreciated by rural women who face mobility restrictions. They can now save and invest in small chunks to achieve their goals and build a secure and resilient future. Breakthrough of Grameen Mittras like Harsha validates our belief that women are key to ending poverty, when empowered with the right resources and tools.

Women Link: Catalyzing economic empowerment among women

Effective methods for financial literacy has been an area of interest for stakeholders working on financial inclusion. Our action research on combining human interface in the form of a Front Line Worker and digital technology (interactive Voice response system and mobile learning platform GLeap) provided an important breakthrough in optimizing between efficiency and effectiveness. ‘Women Link’ project is taking this breakthrough forward in 2 states to impact 75,000 low income women with generous support from Wells Fargo. The project puts into practice the learnings from behavioural economics and power of digital technology to ensure financial security and well- being of low-income women.

Youth Champions for Digital Finance

Over 300 young female volunteers in Bhandara district of Maharashtra are facilitating education and assistance in using digital financial services to thousands of rural women and youth. With generous support from Experian India, the project has impacted over 31,000 beneficiaries, helping them learn about digital finance. Youth Champions from the community working as volunteer are a key to the success of this initiative. Driven by their passion and an urge to do something for their society, these Youth Champions are bringing women from remote rural villages into the digital ecosystem.

Financial capacity building of Social Impact Organizations in Yes Foundation’s Accelerator Program cohort

Yes Bank Foundation has expressed interest to engage with Grameen Foundation for Social Impact (GFSI) to assist in a financial management intervention with a cohort of 23 social impact organisations which were selected  by  Yes  Foundation under the Yes Foundation’s Accelerator Program.  Grameen  Foundation  will utilise its extensive knowledge in designing and delivering market leading solutions that help nonprofits and social impact organizations serve the poor and grow their business.

Educating end users on Google Assistant through a high-touch women led network in Maharashtra state 

Grameen Foundation India is to implement the Google Assistant programme to promote its usage by training 10,000 End users, including 2500 Engaged users, in Bhandara and Nagpur districts of Maharashtra. Under this project, Grameen mittras will be trained on training modules developed by NASSCOM/Google. Grameen mittra will then mobilise end users based on mobile ownership and in places according to above mentioned mobilisation plan and strategy. Grameen mittra will then train the end user on the use of google assistant from their mobiles and emphasise different use cases to keep users hooked to the tool and increase the usage.

Market Access through Digital Innovation in India (MANDI)

In partnership with Grameen Foundation USA and Walmart Foundation, GFI has launched an ambitious Project to strengthen the capacity of farmer producer organization’s (FPO) to connect smallholder farmers, especially women, to markets, finance and ag-tech solutions with the ultimate aim to improve farmers’ incomes and resilience in eastern Uttar Pradesh, India. GFI will build the capacity of 40 FPOs in eastern U.P to support 12,000 smallholder farmers (especially women) to diversify their agricultural production, and use digital data to make decisions regarding crop planning, production and marketing. Moreover, Grameen Mittras will support farmers’ access digital payments and other financial services to improve household resilience to shocks. GFI will also build capacity in gender mainstreaming to improve outreach, membership and leadership by women.

Business Correspondent Network- Experiments and Demonstrating Scale in India

Under this project GFI, in partnership with Grameen Foundation USA and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation will conduct an action research to strengthen the Business Correspondent (BC) model in India. The project aims to answer key questions on the efficiency, productivity, profitability and sustainability of BC networks that can be integrated into the BC business model to make them more effective  in  driving  financial  inclusion  amongst  low  income  people,  particularly  women  in rural India.

The primary outcome of this action research project is that scalable, effective BC models and approaches are communicated among interested stakeholders in order to drive replicability, financial sectoral learning and transformation. The research will drive informed pilots with established Business Correspondent Network Managers (BCNMs) to test more cost effective and agile ways of establishing and on-boarding new BC Agents and also improve viability of individual agents by testing various approaches of diversifying and increasing revenue.

Transform Agriculture Ecosystem of Uttar Pradesh in India

The Transform Agriculture in UP program builds on a knowledge partnership developed by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) with the Department of Agriculture, Government of Uttar Pradesh (GoUP) since 2018 for the purposes of driving inclusive agricultural transformation in the state of UP. In partnership with Grameen Foundation USA, BMGF and Ernst and Young, the program seeks to transform the agricultural sector in select districts of UP by promoting a Food Systems approach to agriculture through nutrition-focused crop diversification, introducing innovative women-friendly and climate-smart technology and developing market linkages. The project will also (i) pilot innovations in service delivery models to farmer-producer organizations (FPOs) and develop five “lighthouse” FPOs; and (ii) embed technical support to Department of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare to provide strategic inputs in policy making and resource allocation, and upgrade government implementation capacity.

Anchoring BC Sakhi’s for Financial Inclusion in Uttar Pradesh

UP State Rural Livelihood Mission has approved the project titled “Anchoring BC Sakhi’s for Financial Inclusion in Uttar Pradesh” submitted jointly by Grameen Foundation India, Margdarshak Financial Services Limited and Airtel Payments Bank. In this consortium, GFI will provide technical support on training and capacity building on Financial Inclusion; and Airtel Payment Bank will be the financial and banking partner. The project will cover 11 districts, 103 blocks in Uttar Pradesh and onboard and capacitate 8,000 women as BC Sakhi’s who will work towards financial inclusion and expansion of the BC network in all project villages for doorstep delivery of financial services including social security products. It will also enable digital transactions within the SHG ecosystem.

For further details on breakthrough initiatives of Grameen Foundation, please contact Induja Rai at


Mobile Technology for Health (MOTECH)

Despite a significant reduction, the maternal mortality, infant mortality and under 5 mortality rates in India remain at stubbornly high levels. Grameen Foundation’s Mobile Technology for Health (MOTECH) platform addresses this by imparting knowledge and actionable inputs at the right time to the specific target population- pregnant and lactating women. MOTECH delivers robust, cost-effective mobile health information at scale to influence behaviour to address maternal and child health, nutrition and family planning issues pan India.

Rajasthan Nutrition Project (RNP)

The program with a short duration of four months in Udaipur, Rajasthan, focused on Anemia amongst pregnant women. Anemia is an important concern amongst the pregnant, lactating and adolescent girls in the Jhadol block of Udaipur district. The fifty SHG members were trained further and carried out sensitization drives in their villages.

Maa aur Shishu Swasthya (MASS)

Leveraging the largescale outreach of microfinance institutions and self-help groups to combine anaemia education along with financial services was an important breakthrough of Maa Aur Shishu Swastha (MASS) project. The program reached over half a million women by integrating the delivery of health education, financial services, and linkages to health care providers, helping them to incorporate easy modifications in their diets to battle maternal and child deaths, stunting and malnutrition.

HCL- Samuday Program  

Twelve hundred Severe Acute Malnutritional (SAM) children were enrolled under the Program. Children were screened for clinical illnesses. Approximately, +750 gm increase in weight was noted amongst the children in the community & SAM children

Transforming Rural India (TRIF)

Under this Program, FFHIT, now a part of Grameen Foundation India, built the capacity of over six hundred frontline staff based out of Bijadandi and Khategaon Blocks of Mandla and Dewas district, Madhya Pradesh. The Community Volunteers and SHGs were trained on nutrition science, gender and food availability, Infant and Young Child Feeding (IYCF), Adolescent and Maternal Nutrition Health and linkages with health and nutrition services. Three hundred SHGs are in the process of slowly adopting behavioral changes. As Covid prevention response, the teams distributed masks, food supplies & other health and hygiene products during the pandemic.

For an exhaustive list of health and other projects implemented by the Grameen Foundation please contact Induja Rai at


GFI launched Lakshyavati to address the high school dropout rate of adolescent girls in India and empower them with education. Today, ‘Lakshyavati’ is enabling hundreds of ambitious girls from less privileged backgrounds continue their education through scholarships in the states of Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh.

Through ‘Lakshyavati’, GFI is proud to support the girls achieve their ‘LAKSHYA’- (Goal)