Mumbai: India's largest microfinance company, SKS Microfinance, has received an ISO 9001: 2000 certification for its 200-plus strong internal audit department by certifying agency RINA, and says this makes it the first microfinance institution in the world to get an ISO certification.
SKS uses a lending model that was developed by Nobel Prize winner, Muhummad Yunus of the Grameen Bank in Bangladesh. The system involves forming groups of five women who serve as guarantors for each other, thus enabling SKS to provide loans without taking any collateral from borrowers.
The validity of this certificate will be till May 2011, depending on annual / bi-annual audits and a complete review of the management system every three years.
Established in 1998, SKS Microfinance is a non-banking finance company aimed at providing financial services to the poor. The company has claimed an annual growth rate of 200 per cent and currently serves 2 million borrowers - which it says it aims to double this financial year - across 20,000 villages and slums in 15 states. It says its disbursements stand at nearly Rs2,605 crore in loans with a 99.5-per cent repayment. SKS also provides life and health insurance to its clients.
''An ISO certification is a distinction that reinforces our commitment to deliver transparency and accountability,'' said M R Rao, COO, SKS Microfinance. ''SKS conducts rigorous audits every month across its 800 plus offices across the country.''
SKS has received awards including the Young Global Leaders by World Economic Forum, CGAP Pro-Poor Innovation Award, the ABN-AMRO/Planet Finance Process Excellence Award, Citibank Information Integrity Award, the Digital Partners SEL Award and the Grameen Foundation USA Excellence Award. It was founded by Vikram Akula, who was named by TIME magazine as one of the 100 Most Influential People in the World (2006).