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« ITEM3 has been a great success »
Arvind Ashta goes back over the last international conference on microfinance in New Delhi (4-7 January 2012)
Why organise a microfinance conference in New Delhi?
Arvind Ashta : For the Microfinance Chair and Burgundy School of Business, it is a real responsibility to encourage young researchers in countries like India to present papers, and also to ensure that they benefit from the school's expertise. We are here because of the strength of Corporate Social Responsibility in our institution. Moreover, India represents the biggest and fastest-growing market in microcredit, and the location of New Delhi offered us the chance to easily visit a village functioning entirely on microcredit. It was therefore a logical choice.
What can we learn from the 3rd edition of this international conference organised by the Chair?
Arvind Ashta : ITEM3 has been a great success. Almost fifty participants from 15 countries were present, comprising a large crowd. The distinct thing about this conference is that it united professionals and academics, and very good quality papers were presented. We are, in addition, proud to be the only school in the so-called developed world to organise an event of this type in a developing country. I would like to point out as well that three important newspapers were associated with the event and created for the occasion a special issue of which I as chairholder was the guest editor: Cost Management, Strategic Change: Briefings in Entrepreneurial Finance and Journal of Innovation Economics.
To give us an idea of the exchanges that took place at the conference, could you tell us something about the paper that you yourself presented?
Arvind Ashta : The papers were centred on the Technological and Institutional Framework for Microfinance, and on the subject of "Cost Management and Social Performance in Microfinance". My paper dealt with CSR with regards to SAAS ("Software As A Service") in microfinance. This technology changes the IMFs' (Instituts de Microfinance) way of functioning, new forms of innovation determine all that. Today, the majority of IMFs are small and they are experiencing losses. To avoid this and to encourage growth, Excel is not enough anymore, now that information and structure management need an ERP system… which they cannot acquire alone because of a lack of funds. Therefore the idea is that small IMFs rent the software, hosted "in the cloud", with a service provider guaranteeing the service for everyone.
The object of my study is to question the social responsibility of IMFs that compete with each other; and the software providers shared between them, because many problems are emerging in these new schemes. For example, the question of co-creation, when the client participates in the development of the software, or the question of choice and confidence in partners in the framework of subscription. Globally, it is noticeable that we no longer speak of to whom responsibility belongs, but to whom it is owed.
Below is the day-by-day account of ITEM3 from the website "Microfinance Focus":
- 4 janvier : http://www.microfinancefocus.com/conference-cost-management-social-performance-microfinance
- 5 janvier : http://www.microfinancefocus.com/experts-weigh-key-elements-microfinance-item-3-conference
- 6 janvier : http://www.microfinancefocus.com/item-3-conference-discuss-cost-management-and-social-performance
- 7 janvier : http://www.microfinancefocus.com/field-visit-microfinance-conference-participants-deepalaya