p.n. vasudevanThe Challenge

About two thirds of India’s more than 1 billion people live in rural areas, and almost 170 million of them are poor. For more than 21 percent of them, poverty is a chronic condition.  Poverty is deepest among scheduled castes and tribes in the country’s rural areas. Women in general are the most disadvantaged people in Indian society, though their status varies significantly according to their social and ethnic backgrounds. Women are particularly vulnerable to the spread of HIV/AIDS from urban to rural areas. In 2005 an estimated 5.7 million men, women and children in India were living with HIV/AIDS. Most of them are in the 15-49 age group and almost 40 percent of them are women.

The Entrepreneur and the Solution

Equitas is a voluntary, non-government organization dedicated to improving the livelihoods of communities throughout the northern region of Bangladesh, Noakhali district & Dhaka City, India.  Equitas is committed to facilitating development through self-employment, improved health, increased literacy and skills, and ensured self-reliance with a specific focus on women.

A for-profit from the start, Equitas has understood the importance of capital and operational efficiency since day one.  With a business model in mind, the organization has enabled itself to maintain rapid growth. To date, the organization has and plans to continue implementing key operational innovations such as centralizing administrative functions, frontline incentive structures, franchising, etc. The combined senior management team experience in the retail and banking sectors reinforces their growth strategy.

Equitas is led by Vasudevan Vasu, a visionary and entrepreneurial leader with a background in commercial finance.  With almost 20 years experience in the Indian finance sector – specifically launching businesses lines at Chola Finance Ltd, one of India’s most successful finance companies—he has earned the respect of the Equitas team.

Equitas currently serves 10,000 clients and has aggressive growth plans for India. Nearly 100 percent of its clients are women and typically borrow loans of $53 USD. The organization has been focused on the urban Chennai region of India but has plans to expand across Tamil Nadu and beyond throughout the rest of the country.

The X-Interview

P. N. Vasudevan tells Global X: “Poor women usually don’t have a place at the table because they don’t bring food. Microfinance creates a perceptible shift in the power balance."