Art of Nurturing

The success story of Nobel Laureate Mohammad Yunus’s now iconic Grameen Bank of Bangladesh has been extraordinarily inspirational. Grameen Bank lends micro-credit to the poor to help them generate income with collateral-free loans.

Meet Vikram Bayana Akula. Inspired by Yunus’ idea, he started the Swayam Krishi Sangam (SKS) Microfinance in 1998 in Medak district of Andhra Pradesh. Akula began his journey with a modest sum of $52,000, all raised through contributions.

It al began in 1990 when Akula came to Zaheerabad in Medak to work with Deccan Development Society, a non-profit. This experience was to change his life. He returned to the United States where he was raised and joined the prestigious Harvard Divinity School but lasted only a semester. Medak was calling! Akula went on to do an M.A. at Yale and a Ph. D at the University of Chicago, “where I explored ideas on how to better scale microfinance and therefore provide access to financial services to poor people across the country”. 

“The poverty in India was disconcerting. I though I must do something”, said Akula, who worked as management consultant with McKinsey & Company. The result was SKS Microfinance. Today, the organization helps impoverished people, especially women, to set up business. SKS has so far provided over $2 billion in unsecured micro-credit to 5.4 million poor women in 80,000 Indian villages across 16 states while maintaining a 99 percent repayment rate. 

“I grew up in New York. During my childhood, I would visit India on family vacations. I have vivid memories of seeing young Indian children my age suffering under jarring poverty. 
I understood the urgent importance of helping the poor in India and combating social injustice in the world…”
Vikram Bayana Akula
Founder, Swayam Krishi Sangam (SKS) Microfinance

SKS Microfinance was founded with the objective of lending small loans to poor people for income-generating activities. SKS also provides micro-insurance and other products and services to the needy and plans to reach 15,000,000 clients by 2012.

SKS NGO, the non-profit arm of SKS Microfinance, works with “ultra poor” destitute members of society, by providing training and support to those who do not have the capacity to take micro-loans.
SKS NGO and SKS Microfinance have tied up with ‘Deworm The World’, a global campaign to eradicate intestinal worms and to provide de-worming medicines to 1 million children in Andhra Pradesh. In 2009, SKS launched Bodhi Academies, a network of schools in Andhra Pradesh that provide education to poor children at low costs.

Akula briefing representatives of the Silicon Valley Microfinance Network about SKS at a seminar on October23, 2008 Akula (left) was named Ernst & Young Start-Up Entrepreneur of the Year (2006)

Akula was named by TIME magazine as one of the ‘100 Most Infuential People’ in the world in 2006 and SKS was named one of Businessweek’s ‘Top5 Companies To Watch’ in 2009. Akula has received several awards, including the Social Entrepreneur of the Year in India (2006), the Ernst & Young ‘Start-Up Entrepreneur of the Year’ in India (2006), the World Economic Forum’s ‘Young Global Leader’ award (2008), and the ‘Echoing Green Public Service Entrepreneur Fellowhsip’ (1998). SKS has been profiled in media raging from CNN to the front page of the Wall Stree Journal. In 2007, Akula received Karmaveer Puraskaar, constituted by iCONGO (India Confederation of NGOs).

Contact: SKS Microfinance Ltd
Maruti Mansion, Municipal No. 2-3-578/1,
Nallagutta, Secunderabad (Andhra Pradesh)
Tel: +91-40-44526000, E-mail:
—This article has been excerpted from the book, The Idea of Giving, published by the India Development Foundation of Overseas Indians  

May 2010

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