Microfinance Industry readies for resumption of operations in green and orange zones

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4 May 2020 – Microfinance Institutions Network (MFIN), today announced that 88 lenders associated with it are ready to resume operations in the green and orange zones while ensuring the well-being of customers, employees and community & environment and working within the ‘safety and hygiene’ framework issued by union, state and district authorities.

Towards this, the lender community associated with MFIN have agreed to follow the MFIN’s Guidance on this matter as under. The Guidance Note is available on the MFIN website: https://mfinindia.org/Default

MFIN which is the industry association for microfinance and a self-regulatory organisation (SRO) recognized by RBI for the NBFC-MFIs comprises of micro-credit lenders regulated by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), i.e. NBFC-MFIs, Banks, SFBs and NBFCs. Micro-credit sector currently reaches over 5.8 crore low income households.

Health and Safety: Lenders are taking all due precautions for the health and safety of their employees, customers and workplace. Lenders are maintaining constant virtual connect with the customers educating them about Covid-19. Many lenders are providing Covid-19 insurance to borrowers.

Moratorium: Recognizing the impact of Covid-19 on the livelihoods of low-income-household customers, lenders have unanimously decided to offer moratorium to their customers as permitted by the RBI.

Resumption of Operations: After the limited opening on April 20, a few branches have been opened in the green zones, and some staff have resumed duty. Once the lockdown lifts, micro-credit lenders will gradually resume operations in a phased manner with caution based on preparedness on workplace and employee safety/hygiene and clear and established policy/process with respect to lending process (collections, moratorium, disbursements). As the situation will improve slowly, lenders are being advised to proceed with utmost caution even across green zone districts.

Collections: Collections will be made only from customers who have opted out of the moratorium. Those willing to repay will also be encouraged to use digital means, ensuring social distance norms are adhered to in all instances. Also all lenders have been strictly advised to follow the industry Code of Conduct (CoC) and Code for Responsible Lending (CRL) with respect to customer engagement.

MFIN and its members believe that there will be an increased demand for microcredit with the opening and we stand committed to provide the same to our clients in rebuilding their livelihoods.