Friday, May 21, 2010

What's a newspaper for?

We (Madura) recently launched a classified ad newspaper that reaches 400,000 poor rural households in Tamil Nadu. Our women borrowers can advertise their products, services and things they want to buy and sell free of charge while companies must pay. This is a hard to reach demographic that does not generally interact with print. One of our office locations used a women's day event that gathered 700 of our women borrowers to launch the paper in their area. I didn't attend this launch but our CEO reported to me that a very large number of women took the paper that was handed out and immediately used it to wrap up the snacks that were served to them.

(One useful statistic to put this in context is that about a third of our borrowers cannot read. Still....)


  1. Your interview on CNBC last night was very impressive and generated a series of thoughts, I am pursuing my MBA,and currently doing my Internship in one of the leading MFI's (The first to operate with the status of being a NBFC in India) prior to joining this full time MBA program, I was working for Deloitte Touche India Pvt Ltd.

    My Best wishes to Madura Micro Finance and I would be more than happy if we(A group of 120 MBA students ) can contribute something.


  2. This is not directly related, but you might be interested in an episode of This American Life where they look at attempts at economic development in Haiti. I realize its a very different place, but one example that made me think immediately of Madura was a mango exporter who distributed plastic crates to mango farmers so they could transport the fruit with less bruising. Most of them used the crates for something else, like stools. Reminded me of your experience with the classifieds.