Social Entrepreneur Spotlight: Harsha Moily

February 1, 2008 Posted by Update

Harsha Moily
Founder and CEO
Organization: Moksha Yug Access
Unitus Partner Since: 2007

Moksha Yug Access joined the Unitus portfolio of partners in October 2007. Harsha Moily, the founder and CEO of the organization, is one of 20 dynamic, visionary leaders who are working with Unitus to catalyze growth and innovation in the field of microfinance.

What was your biggest challenge in starting Moksha Yug Access (MYA)?

People and capital were the two biggest challenges in starting MYA. We operate in Bagalkot district, which is one of the most backwards regions in India. Therefore attracting top quality talent in operations and strategic management to operate out of Bagalkot was challenging.

Capital was also a challenge because our business model wasn’t tried and tested. Therefore it was hard to attract large-size investments from venture capital firms at the start-up phase. We had to raise funds from family and friends, scale up to a certain level, and then go to raise funds. Since we were not a pure-play microfinance institution, it took a while to convince investors on the potential of this business model.

Who is your typical client?

MYA’s typical client is the daily wage laborer earning less than $1.50 a day for whom a microloan of $200 is just a start. She also needs to be supported by savings, working capital loans, insurance, and livelihoods services.

For example, Yallavva Siddappa Poojari comes from a very poor household and became a member of MokshaYug SHG in 2006. She earns daily wages from farm labour and walks long distances to work on the farm earning Rs. 25 (60 cents) a day to sustain her household. After becoming a member of MokshaYug SHG, she availed a loan of Rs. 7,500/- (US $188) and purchased three goats and enrolled for goat insurance which served to indemnify her against any loss due to death of the goats. One of the goats gave birth to two goat kids, which she sold for Rs. 1,400 ($35) each. Her earnings from the sale enabled her to shift her children from a public school to a private school with better education facility.

Yallava today is close to paying off her first loan and plans to avail a second loan to purchase a cow or a buffalo which she believes will double her income. Today, Yallava has increased her asset value by Rs. 9,500/ ($237) and has provided her access to quality education for her kids.

What inspires you?

The disparity in opportunities that exists between people in urban India and rural India due to the inefficiencies in the system inspired me to start MYA. Most people living in poverty work extremely hard through an inefficient system and at the end of the day have very little left.

What excites me is that, with the economic boom in urban India—which is bringing in world-class resources in terms of people, technology and finance—we now have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to build an economy in rural India which can make a quantifiable impact on poverty. This inspires me no end! I have to constantly remind myself that I am merely a guardian of this great business of serving the poor and that my job is to ensure that the poor are in a better off condition now than when I found them.

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