Janalakshmi has its roots in an incubated initiative called Sanghamitra Urban Programme (SUP), housed in an outstanding microfinance institution called Sanghamitra Rural Financial Services (SRFS), set up by one of India’s most respected rural NGOs called Myrada (Mysore Resettlement and Development Agency).
Our first group loan, in October 2000, marks what is possibly the earliest instance of urban microfinance in India.
In 16 months we had loaned one crore rupees. All the while our small core team was trying to understand the aspirations and challenges of the urban poor, and also the role financial services could play in enabling them to script their success.
What we learnt in those early years continues to shape Janalakshmi today as we move into this phase of our growth. The large urban underserved want more than loans. Like all of us they, too, want a place to keep their hard-earned savings, they want health and life insurance, pensions and retirement plans, financial support to expand micro enterprises, loans to put children through English-medium schools. In short: a full-service financial institution to fuel their dreams.
By continuing to strengthen the key pillars of the organisation, and by partnering with leading global institutions, Janalakshmi is closer to being exactly such an institution for the growing and aspirational urban underserved.