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Monday, May 01, 2006

Remarkable People Shaping The World

I just came across the Time Magazine cover story on 100 people shaping the world and was pleasantly surprised to find two Indian names in it : Nandan Nilekani & Vikram Akula.
Few weeks back, I was in a dinner meeting at Software 2006 with Vikram Akula, the founder of SKS Microfinance in India, a company that empowers the poor to become economically self-reliant by providing collateral-free financial services in a sustainable manner ( His organization won the Social Entrepreneurship Award at Software 2006).In about eighteen years, SKS has delivered over $52 million in microfinance to over 200,000 women clients in poor regions of India.In the last year alone, SKS grew by nearly 300% and has a current portfolio of $23 million with a 99% ontime repayment rate. Vikram a former consultant with McKinsey & Co and a Fulbright Scholar with a doctorate degree is indeed a very inspiring person – In my conversation with him, I found him to be an extremely nice person to talk to as well. As Time captures it,
Vikram Akula
is using advanced technology — smart cards — to make venture capital available to more of the 800 million people in India who live on less than $2 a day. In the hinterland, where there are few landlines, let alone ATMs, the founder of SKS Microfinance is starting to dispense loans, typically $116, on smart cards, which its loan officers had been using to record repayments electronically. The plastic approach intrigued Visa International, which is now pairing SKS with cell phone-based card readers. The cash-free system is more efficient and safer too.

The other award winner of the Time magazine award is Nandan Nilekaniit is befitting that Tom Friedman was chosen to write about Nandan & Infosys.

On a related note, I could not find time(last four weeks have been particularly bad in terms of number of posted blogs) to write about a very significant thing – F.C.Kohli receiving the Sand Hill Luminary Award. Mr.Kohli, founded TCS in 1968 and is also rightly considered the father of Indian IT. CK Prahalad, made a tribute and presented the award to FC Kohli. CKP recommended that F.C.Kohli be given the Bharat Ratna – I fully endorse this. After all, TCS envisioned and pioneered the adoption of the “global delivery model”, one that has reshaped the IT services industry and enabled employment for thousands of people. M.R introduced me to Mr.Kohli - I was speaking to him for a while – throughout the discussion Mr.Kohli never ever felt that he had done anything extraordinary – in his own words,he felt he was just carrying out his duty of creating and leading TCS for more than two decades, in the process creating a whole new industry benefiting global corporations in a big way and creating prosperity for millions in India and elsewhere. Vikram, Nandan & Kohli are all remarkable people; just as the others in the Time magazine list of 100 - these people have made difference to millions around the world and are in many ways responsible for making this planet a better place to live.

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Sadagopan's Weblog on Emerging Technologies, Trends,Thoughts, Ideas & Cyberworld
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