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Micro finance attracts high interest at B-schools

Deepak Goel

Growing involvement of banks in the sector

New Delhi , March 30

Micro finance is a subject that is spurring major interest at management campuses. At the Indian Institute of Management-Ahmedabad, the number of students opting for the elective has grown from seven when it was first introduced to 18 this year.

Similarly, at the Institute of Rural Management-Anand (IRMA) 80 of the 87 students in the main post-graduate programme have opted for the elective this year.

One reason for the subject's growing popularity could be the growing interest shown by banks in the micro-finance field, says Prof H.S. Shylendra of IRMA. "Another reason why students are choosing the subject could be the growing micro-finance sector itself," he adds.

IRMA offers a full credit and another half credit elective in micro finance. Though the institute has offered the subject since 2001, it set up a chair in 2004 for micro finance with support from the Washington-based Micro Finance Management Institute (MFMI). The major activities of the chair include conducting workshops and training programmes for strengthening the micro-finance sector.

MFMI partners with globally recognised management colleges to promote the development of new academic material and research and teaching dedicated to micro-finance management. MFMI has partnered with IRMA, IIM-Ahmedabad and IIM-Bangalore in India, apart from some other institutes internationally. It was the alignment of IIM-Ahmedabad's interest in the sector and the MFMI's objective, coupled with student interest, that a half credit course introduced in 2001 was turned into a full credit elective recently, says Prof M.S. Sriram of IIM-Ahmedabad.

"The partnership between the two institutes also involves development of case studies, pedagogy and other material for the sector by IIM-Ahmedabad," he adds.

With the growing involvement of banks in the sector, IRMA also plans to broadbase the programme and launch a compulsory subject on rural finance next year, says Prof Shylendra.

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