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Around the globe, poverty has held too many people in its grip for too long. While microfinance - small loans to impoverished individuals - initially attracted attention in the press, it didn't achieve the scale, scope, and profitability necessary to substantially combat poverty. All that changed with Vikram Akula's creation of SKS Microfinance. In this highly personal narr Around the globe, poverty has held too many people in its grip for too long. While microfinance - small loans to impoverished individuals - initially attracted attention in the press, it didn't achieve the scale, scope, and profitability necessary to substantially combat poverty. All that changed with Vikram Akula's creation of SKS Microfinance. In this highly personal narrative, A Fistful of Rice, Akula reveals how he pieced together the best of both philanthropy and (to his surprise) capitalism to help millions of India's poor transition from paupers to customers to business owners. As thoughtful as Barack Obama's personal journey in Dreams from My Father, as harrowing as Paul Farmer's battle against infectious disease in Mountains Beyond Mountains, and as gripping as Greg Mortensen's fight for education in Three Cups of Tea, Akula's story shows how traditional business principles can be brought to bear on global problems in new ways. A Fistful of Rice offers not only inspiration but also lessons for anyone seeking to transform tenacity, creativity, and innovation into potent tools for fighting even the most seemingly intractable human burdens.


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Around the globe, poverty has held too many people in its grip for too long. While microfinance - small loans to impoverished individuals - initially attracted attention in the press, it didn't achieve the scale, scope, and profitability necessary to substantially combat poverty. All that changed with Vikram Akula's creation of SKS Microfinance. In this highly personal narr Around the globe, poverty has held too many people in its grip for too long. While microfinance - small loans to impoverished individuals - initially attracted attention in the press, it didn't achieve the scale, scope, and profitability necessary to substantially combat poverty. All that changed with Vikram Akula's creation of SKS Microfinance. In this highly personal narrative, A Fistful of Rice, Akula reveals how he pieced together the best of both philanthropy and (to his surprise) capitalism to help millions of India's poor transition from paupers to customers to business owners. As thoughtful as Barack Obama's personal journey in Dreams from My Father, as harrowing as Paul Farmer's battle against infectious disease in Mountains Beyond Mountains, and as gripping as Greg Mortensen's fight for education in Three Cups of Tea, Akula's story shows how traditional business principles can be brought to bear on global problems in new ways. A Fistful of Rice offers not only inspiration but also lessons for anyone seeking to transform tenacity, creativity, and innovation into potent tools for fighting even the most seemingly intractable human burdens.

30 review for A Fistful of Rice: My Unexpected Quest to End Poverty Through Profitability

  1. 4 out of 5

    Madhur Shrimal

    I was just in office when I saw this book with one of my friend. When I saw the book name, it sounded very interesting to me. I mean the title contains a deep meaning. So I thought of reading it. And yes I got to know why the title is this. A small incident, which contained a fistful of rice, made a person think so deep that he propagated the concept of for-profit organization and micro-finance to eradicate poverty on mass level. This books gives light to the struggle of Vikran Akula and his emp I was just in office when I saw this book with one of my friend. When I saw the book name, it sounded very interesting to me. I mean the title contains a deep meaning. So I thought of reading it. And yes I got to know why the title is this. A small incident, which contained a fistful of rice, made a person think so deep that he propagated the concept of for-profit organization and micro-finance to eradicate poverty on mass level. This books gives light to the struggle of Vikran Akula and his employees at the starting of the organization and especially in 2004. But their determination never died and they reached the acme. Cheers for Vikram and his team. It's a mind blowing book for people who wants to do something actually good to eradicate poverty and make everyone self-sufficient. Do visit this site http://www.sksindia.com/

  2. 4 out of 5

    Manoj Kakran

    Story of building SKS Microfinance and how enabled many of people to improve their lives.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Lily

    A fast and important read. Vikram Akula pioneered aggressive growth, for-profit micro-finance. His argument for profitable micro-finance is absolutely compelling. With higher profit margins, his company could expand at a pace that would be impossible to match by a similar non-profit organization. At this point in time, his company (SKS) has brand recognition in India comparable to McDonald's and Burger King. By standardizing--and digitizing--the loan procedure in simple and elegant ways, Akula b A fast and important read. Vikram Akula pioneered aggressive growth, for-profit micro-finance. His argument for profitable micro-finance is absolutely compelling. With higher profit margins, his company could expand at a pace that would be impossible to match by a similar non-profit organization. At this point in time, his company (SKS) has brand recognition in India comparable to McDonald's and Burger King. By standardizing--and digitizing--the loan procedure in simple and elegant ways, Akula branded his product in a way that no one before him (even the Nobel Peace Prize winner Muhammed Yanus, creator of micro-finance) had been able to do. I also agreed with his argument that the poor are not children; they do not need or desire coddling. They know their own needs better than well-intentioned but far-removed government programs (which often unintentionally oppress the poor instead of helping them). Micro-finance allows the poor to take control of their situation directly. What a brilliant way to begin the process of ending global poverty in earnest; this is Akula's dream, and his efforts--and achievements!!)-- toward this end are, as far as I can tell, unparalleled. The book jacket compares him to Paul Farmer, and since I had never heard of Vikram Akula before, I was initially skeptical. But truly, he and his company are doing noble things on a massive scale. It's clear that Akula has a little bit of an ego, but at the same time his approach toward the poor in India is so humble. I'd recommend this to anyone with even a mild interest in micro-finance/addressing poverty/important people of our century.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Deepak

    3.5 stars. A moving and inspiring account of a do-gooder who sets out on climbing and defeating the insurmountable mountain of poverty in rural India. With degrees from the likes of Harvard, Yale and Chicago University, the man could have chosen a lavish lifestyle in America, far from a different bleak world out here in India. The fact that he didn't is worth applauding, especially when it cost him his mother's respect and later, divorce with his wife. I couldn't help but notice the striking simil 3.5 stars. A moving and inspiring account of a do-gooder who sets out on climbing and defeating the insurmountable mountain of poverty in rural India. With degrees from the likes of Harvard, Yale and Chicago University, the man could have chosen a lavish lifestyle in America, far from a different bleak world out here in India. The fact that he didn't is worth applauding, especially when it cost him his mother's respect and later, divorce with his wife. I couldn't help but notice the striking similarities between the book and the Shahrukh Khan flick 'Swades'. However, real life is messier than movies. Reel couldn't dare match with real. Who would've thought helping people in earnest will entail politicians' threats, gang extortion demands and life-threatening attacks? I am amazed why a Bollywood producer has not yet approached the author for the rights! Quite unintentionally, the book ended cracking me up on a few occasions; when an employee the author sent for another female employee's protection from rural thugs instead ends up terrorizing her, or when his wife with whom he's reckoning for divorce turns out to be a divorce lawyer. Pity!

  5. 4 out of 5

    Yuce

    "The fact is, some people will never feel comfortable discussing poor people and profit in the same sentence, no matter how much sense it makes." This is the single most powerful sentence that changed the microfinance structure in India. I take a bow to thee, Mr. Akula. "The fact is, some people will never feel comfortable discussing poor people and profit in the same sentence, no matter how much sense it makes." This is the single most powerful sentence that changed the microfinance structure in India. I take a bow to thee, Mr. Akula.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Judy

    Being a sucker for beating-the-odds stories, I picked up this book hoping it would prove to be an unveiling of how a single man helped poor women of India start their own businesses. The beginning of the book was promising as Akula relays an anecdote of a poor Indian woman picking up a few spilled grains of rice one-by-one and his resulting realizations that some people are that poor and that hungry. However, as Akula becomes more educated and more experienced in the field of micro-finance the e Being a sucker for beating-the-odds stories, I picked up this book hoping it would prove to be an unveiling of how a single man helped poor women of India start their own businesses. The beginning of the book was promising as Akula relays an anecdote of a poor Indian woman picking up a few spilled grains of rice one-by-one and his resulting realizations that some people are that poor and that hungry. However, as Akula becomes more educated and more experienced in the field of micro-finance the emphasis shifts from helping to justifying his for-profit lending company, SKS's practice of charging 28% interest and his own CEO salary. When he started taking a stopwatch into the field to time how long his employees spent with customers in order to streamline the business in line with McDonald's management policies, he lost my respect. Perhaps, that type of tactic does save money, but what happened to good old fashioned first-name basis customer service? So, I wasn't surprised when the last few chapters became a place to drop names like Bill Gates, the Ghandi family, Bill Clinton, etc. Since I'm no finance expert, its hard to point my finger at Akula particularly since so many Indians have made his system work for them, but I'm still looking for books about people who are able to help the needy without patting themselves on the back. 2.0 stars

  7. 5 out of 5

    Autumn

    This is a tough book for me to review. My feelings are mixed. If we're talking about writing ability and readability, "A Fistful of Rice" is a success. The chapters are clear and well-thought out, and the picture of his microloan program in India is very interesting. Akula has given a formidable amount of statistical information without overwhelming the reader, and his anecdotes about the people he helps/has helped are affecting. What I had a very hard time stomaching is the motivation behind the This is a tough book for me to review. My feelings are mixed. If we're talking about writing ability and readability, "A Fistful of Rice" is a success. The chapters are clear and well-thought out, and the picture of his microloan program in India is very interesting. Akula has given a formidable amount of statistical information without overwhelming the reader, and his anecdotes about the people he helps/has helped are affecting. What I had a very hard time stomaching is the motivation behind the book. As is evident from the first chapter, much of it is a defense of running his microloan business as a 'for profit' venture. No matter how much good his loans have done, and the success rate is high according to his estimation, the thought of making money (more than it takes to keep the operation in business) off the sweat of some of the poorest people in the world is hard for me to stomach. As a picture of India and what can be done to help manage poverty there, "A Fistful of Rice" is a good book. My heart, though... my heart dislikes his justifications.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Karin

    An excellent story. i like how Vikram thinks that poor people aren't a 'special' group of people needing kidgloves to help them out. He has proven that people who happen to be poor (thru lack of education, not b/c of physical or mental illnesses) are just as diverse and worthy of being treated as fulfledged adults, as any middle class person. He went to India and discovered that the poor knew how they needed/ wanted to be helped. Not handouts, but loans so they could pursue their dreams and crea An excellent story. i like how Vikram thinks that poor people aren't a 'special' group of people needing kidgloves to help them out. He has proven that people who happen to be poor (thru lack of education, not b/c of physical or mental illnesses) are just as diverse and worthy of being treated as fulfledged adults, as any middle class person. He went to India and discovered that the poor knew how they needed/ wanted to be helped. Not handouts, but loans so they could pursue their dreams and create their own wealth, and upward mobility. As long as he is providing value as CEO, why not pay him like one. He seems to be energetic, hopeful, enterprising and intelligent. Good for him.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Daniel Taylor

    Entrepreneurs can learn a lot from Vikram Akula's quest to end poverty in India – at a profit. From when he comes up with the idea for his profitable microfinancing scheme, Akula faces obstacle after obstacle. His peers look down on him. Corrupt governments try to close him down. And on and on. Each time he finds a workaround. Their are personal leadership lessons here: identify your passions, find a way to make them profitable, and then stick through any obstacle to make them a reality. It's an en Entrepreneurs can learn a lot from Vikram Akula's quest to end poverty in India – at a profit. From when he comes up with the idea for his profitable microfinancing scheme, Akula faces obstacle after obstacle. His peers look down on him. Corrupt governments try to close him down. And on and on. Each time he finds a workaround. Their are personal leadership lessons here: identify your passions, find a way to make them profitable, and then stick through any obstacle to make them a reality. It's an enjoyable read.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Thelma Melk

    This book for me was just philanthropy on steroids. I couldn’t help thinking, with all the initiatives globally - why do we still have poor people? I mean absolute abject poverty. This story opens your mind to the rich Indian culture and heritage, as well as the mind numbing scale of poverty. You also doff your hat to Vikram Akula for his determination to make a difference. & he does. The story reads like a fast paced thriller while it gives you an education. All your attitudes towards poverty a This book for me was just philanthropy on steroids. I couldn’t help thinking, with all the initiatives globally - why do we still have poor people? I mean absolute abject poverty. This story opens your mind to the rich Indian culture and heritage, as well as the mind numbing scale of poverty. You also doff your hat to Vikram Akula for his determination to make a difference. & he does. The story reads like a fast paced thriller while it gives you an education. All your attitudes towards poverty and the poor are absolutely turned inside out. If anything you will come away with a new respect for the underprivileged and the many, many honorable people whose life purpose is poverty eradication. I guarantee you, this is a story you know nothing about. Just read it.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Jeffy Joseph

    "Give a Man a Fish, and You Feed Him for a Day. Teach a Man To Fish, and You Feed Him for a Lifetime" Providing aid to the poor doesn't promote any kind of social mobility. Their fundamental needs might be satisfied, but they remain to be poor. Although I haven't seen his model in action, I believe Akula's business model does provide the poor an opportunity for upward mobility. But the efficacy of for-profit micro-finance seems to be debatable. As mentioned in the book, Nobel laureate Muhammad Yu "Give a Man a Fish, and You Feed Him for a Day. Teach a Man To Fish, and You Feed Him for a Lifetime" Providing aid to the poor doesn't promote any kind of social mobility. Their fundamental needs might be satisfied, but they remain to be poor. Although I haven't seen his model in action, I believe Akula's business model does provide the poor an opportunity for upward mobility. But the efficacy of for-profit micro-finance seems to be debatable. As mentioned in the book, Nobel laureate Muhammad Yunus too is skeptical of the model. But conceptually, I found the book and its ideas to be interesting and inspiring.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Aditya VS

    Thanks for the wonderful gift Vikram ji,. I seriously relate my stint and regret not giving an early read on the very month I first received it. Greatly inspirational of the challenges and opportunities that coexisted within. It surely reminded me of an equivalent implementation to the CK Prahlad's legendary 'Fortune' and deeply recording the instances of a journey of an ordinary young man to a CEO. Thanks for the wonderful gift Vikram ji,. I seriously relate my stint and regret not giving an early read on the very month I first received it. Greatly inspirational of the challenges and opportunities that coexisted within. It surely reminded me of an equivalent implementation to the CK Prahlad's legendary 'Fortune' and deeply recording the instances of a journey of an ordinary young man to a CEO.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Syed Naser

    A nice read that can give a glimpse of issues that one can face in poverty alleviation efforts.... Though vikram akula lost his micro finance company later (it was taken over by the government) , his book is a nice read that is practical and gives his signle minded conviction towards the cause of poverty alleviation

  14. 4 out of 5

    Edward Silverman

    This was a well told story that underlined the good that people and capitalism can do. It is unfortunate that the company grew so much that there were employees implicated in a huge scandal the year after the book came out but that underscores the risks and downsides of profit motivation mixed with helping the poor. Still, this model has done much more good than bad, seemingly, for India.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Tyler Johnson

    interesting look at investing in the most remote and hard to reach societies that may not share credit systems or infrastructure with modern society

  16. 5 out of 5

    Ramesh Prabhu

    It was in 1997 that Vikram Akula launched SKS Microfinance in Andhra Pradesh. His aim: to lend small sums of money to impoverished people to start their own modest businesses. The organisation, driven by the founder’s energy and enthusiasm, did well for a number of years. But last November, after a particularly rough time for microfinance companies in India as a whole, Akula stepped down as executive chairman (he will remain a consultant to SKS till March). The book he published in November 2010 It was in 1997 that Vikram Akula launched SKS Microfinance in Andhra Pradesh. His aim: to lend small sums of money to impoverished people to start their own modest businesses. The organisation, driven by the founder’s energy and enthusiasm, did well for a number of years. But last November, after a particularly rough time for microfinance companies in India as a whole, Akula stepped down as executive chairman (he will remain a consultant to SKS till March). The book he published in November 2010, though, has important lessons for people everywhere on how to help India’s poor. Youngsters, especially, should take these lessons to heart. Akula, whose parents emigrated from India to the US in 1970 when he was two years old, worked in remote Indian villages as an idealistic graduate student before going on to found SKS. In A Fistful of Rice, he tells us his fascinating and inspirational story. A Fistful of Rice is fascinating because in compelling but easy-to-grasp language it introduces the lay reader to a subject that most would not have much interest in: development work. And the book is inspirational because Akula shows how well-meaning — and driven — people can transform the lives of those less fortunate than they are. Akula says he knew as a teenager, after having made several visits to Hyderabad, his hometown, that what he wanted to do more than anything else was to make a difference. He writes in A Fistful of Rice that when he enrolled at Tufts University in Massachusetts at 17, he began thinking in earnest about how to help India's poor. “I devoured the works of the great philosophers, searching for clues on how to live my life and make a difference in the lives of others,” he writes. And after he graduated Akula was excited to get out into the world and test his theories. He writes: “At long last, it was time to go to India and start working with the poor!” The only problem was, he had no idea what he might do here, or who would hire a newly minted college graduate like him. Remember, those were the pre-Internet days, so these questions were far more difficult to answer, Akula says. But this "problem" did not deter him. Akula’s approach and the exercise he then embarked on will serve as an eye-opener — and encouragement — for many people who get dejected when they don't immediately get what they want and who often give up at the first hurdle in their path. First, Akula went to the women's centre on the Tufts University campus, knowing that groups working specifically with women were “more progressive”. There he began going through magazines hoping to find an NGO located in Telangana, the impoverished region of his birth. “Because I spoke rudimentary Telugu and had family there, I figured that would be the best place to start,” Akula says. Unfortunately for him, there weren't as many options there as in cities like Delhi, Mumbai, or Kolkata, but eventually he tracked down the contact information for a few NGOs and after sending off a large number of letters he waited to hear from them. “Only one organisation, the Deccan Development Society [DDS], responded,” Akula writes. “And even their letter was decidedly lukewarm. The director, a man named Biksham Gujja, basically said, ‘Okay, if you come here we'll meet with you, but we're not promising anything.’ “ But this was good enough for Akula. He was so relieved to have received a reply, and he was so determined to convince Biksham to hire him that he bought a one-way plane ticket to Hyderabad and packed a single gym bag with clothes. Akula says he wanted to travel like Mahatma Gandhi: ”no unnecessary attachments, no excess of material goods”. And so Akula came to India, began working with the poor as a volunteer, was hired by DDS, learnt what it means to work in development, and finally, after a two-week training session in Bangladesh with Grameen, founded by the pioneer of microfinance, Muhammad Yunus, started his own organisation, SKS, for Swayam Krishi Sangam, "a Sanskrit phrase meaning 'self-work society', or more loosely, 'self-help-society'." In later chapters, Akula, who was named by Time magazine in 2006 as one of the world's 100 most influential people, describes in moving detail the challenges he and his inexperienced team faced. SKS, which unlike most NGOs became a for-profit organisation (read the book to understand the reasons for the “for-profit” status), soon moved beyond giving microloans, also offering its members social, educational, and health benefits. Vikram Akula's tale proves beyond doubt that initiative, enterprise, and enthusiasm aligned with a desire to help underprivileged people can help to combat poverty in our country. Reading A Fistful of Rice will also convince you that you can do well by doing good.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Sudheer Madhava

    An innovative approach to reduce poverty in India by providing socially secured micro loans in rural areas with money raised from large capitalist financial concers for an excellent rate of return and better security than most conventional investments. Vikram Akula's venture has invited funding from venture capital giants like Sequoia Capital. A commendable effort by Vikram Akula inspired by Mohammed Younus (Grameen Bank) of Bangladesh which might be more important than many of the government led An innovative approach to reduce poverty in India by providing socially secured micro loans in rural areas with money raised from large capitalist financial concers for an excellent rate of return and better security than most conventional investments. Vikram Akula's venture has invited funding from venture capital giants like Sequoia Capital. A commendable effort by Vikram Akula inspired by Mohammed Younus (Grameen Bank) of Bangladesh which might be more important than many of the government led initiatives to alleviate poverty. I recommend this book to anybody looking to better understand or invest in rural India. What I find most intersting is Vikram Akula's argument that running his micro-finance concern (SKS Finance) as a for-profit entity rather than a not-for-profit entitiy ensures more access to funding for the poor from capitalist concerns. Though the interest rates are as high as 28% (still significantly lower than local predatory money lenders), the rural poor seem to be able to easily return loans and make a significant enough profit to thrive as can be evidenced from the 99.4% success rate of SKS' loans.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Emily

    Very quick read about the author's start-up microfinance company in India. His company is different than most (all?) in that it is for-profit. He defended his position well, explaining that for-profit brings in more investors, meaning more capital, more loans, and more people they can reach. His business model is obviously a successful one, proven in its unmatched, rapid growth (700 members in 2000 to 8 million today, and growing). I was more interested in the results of his business than the bu Very quick read about the author's start-up microfinance company in India. His company is different than most (all?) in that it is for-profit. He defended his position well, explaining that for-profit brings in more investors, meaning more capital, more loans, and more people they can reach. His business model is obviously a successful one, proven in its unmatched, rapid growth (700 members in 2000 to 8 million today, and growing). I was more interested in the results of his business than the business model, so the last chapter was my favorite. It showed all the social good that has come from this company. I was impressed with its massive influence and I am glad that his goal is to expand worldwide. I know he will continue doing much good in fighting poverty. On a side note, as with Greg Mortenson, it always makes me a bit sad that people who have a strong passion to do humanitarian work, many times have to live unbalanced lives to meet their goals (and their personal lives suffer).

  19. 4 out of 5

    Ramakrishnan M

    Decent book; gives a good view into one of the most well-know MFIs in India...truly the one that put Indian MFI in a global spotlight. Short, crisp and conversational it is quite an easy-to-read book. Apart from the typical grit and tough life of a typical entrepreneur to scale up, we also get to see some personal trauma and tough days of the author/enterprenuer - Vikram. I guess what was slightly (just slightly) disappointing was the lack of 'depth" in how the organization stabilized; the growth Decent book; gives a good view into one of the most well-know MFIs in India...truly the one that put Indian MFI in a global spotlight. Short, crisp and conversational it is quite an easy-to-read book. Apart from the typical grit and tough life of a typical entrepreneur to scale up, we also get to see some personal trauma and tough days of the author/enterprenuer - Vikram. I guess what was slightly (just slightly) disappointing was the lack of 'depth" in how the organization stabilized; the growth story was almost a blitzkrieg. Would have been nice to have a bit more depth here.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Amy O

    I enjoyed the personal stories, facts and context that Akula includes. The anecdotes grab your heart, the facts stun the mind (818 million people live on less than $2/ day in India) and context shows complexity. Microfinance industry and field based NGO work in India are major themes. An idealistic naivety shines through and makes me consider where Akula's fast track growth model for SKS overlooked the effects (did his organization have to do with microfinance suicides in India in 2010?.) A good I enjoyed the personal stories, facts and context that Akula includes. The anecdotes grab your heart, the facts stun the mind (818 million people live on less than $2/ day in India) and context shows complexity. Microfinance industry and field based NGO work in India are major themes. An idealistic naivety shines through and makes me consider where Akula's fast track growth model for SKS overlooked the effects (did his organization have to do with microfinance suicides in India in 2010?.) A good read that moves along quickly.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Balkha

    What is so special about this book is not the literary value but the message that Vikram Akula is sending across. His vision and determination to eradicate poverty and launch SKS are truly inspiring. Some of the incidents which he narrates in the book seem surreal, like when he goes out to meet maoist guerrilla and refuses to bend to their demands. Hopefully these side stories which add spice to the narrative are true and don't turn out to be a hoax like "Three Cups of Tea". What is so special about this book is not the literary value but the message that Vikram Akula is sending across. His vision and determination to eradicate poverty and launch SKS are truly inspiring. Some of the incidents which he narrates in the book seem surreal, like when he goes out to meet maoist guerrilla and refuses to bend to their demands. Hopefully these side stories which add spice to the narrative are true and don't turn out to be a hoax like "Three Cups of Tea".

  22. 5 out of 5

    Emily

    Four stars just because I really love and support micro-lending. And the book was an interesting take on how micro-credit can be fairly easily expanded to help tons more people by converting from non-profit to for-profit. Basically instead of just relying on contributions from donors, you can charge a wee bit more interest and earn enough to have more money to lend to more people. The problem I had with this book was that the author seemed to think rather highly of himself.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Ashton Bitton

    A great, quick read. Akula's personable recount of his experience is an inspiration to me. He worked to make a difference, and through his work has succeeded in making the lives of thousands just that much better. His recap of how exactly he went about going into microfinance made it seem possible for anyone to do so as well, with the right amount of determination, dedication, and open-mindedness. A great, quick read. Akula's personable recount of his experience is an inspiration to me. He worked to make a difference, and through his work has succeeded in making the lives of thousands just that much better. His recap of how exactly he went about going into microfinance made it seem possible for anyone to do so as well, with the right amount of determination, dedication, and open-mindedness.

  24. 5 out of 5

    G.

    A useful book, though I might have appreciated less of his personal story and more of the workings of SKS, particularly where it is going in the future. If you are having issues with Exceptionalistic Guilt, or have yet to wrap your mind around why for-profit is not a negative, then perhaps this book and the story of Akula's journey are for you. For those interested in the inner workings, it's a quick read, and will at least prompt you to ask more questions of more in depth literature. A useful book, though I might have appreciated less of his personal story and more of the workings of SKS, particularly where it is going in the future. If you are having issues with Exceptionalistic Guilt, or have yet to wrap your mind around why for-profit is not a negative, then perhaps this book and the story of Akula's journey are for you. For those interested in the inner workings, it's a quick read, and will at least prompt you to ask more questions of more in depth literature.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Kelli

    Two very interesting topics to me: Microloans and India. I devoured every page of this book. What a great concept and what a smart, smart man Akula is. It is so nice to read about someone empoowering the poor people in India and I look forward to following the progress of this company as it branches out across the world.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Ramona

    Akula's achievements in microfinance are commendable, and his story is compelling. However, it's still hard to accept for-profit lending to the poor as a noble option. I hope to read more about it to understand the intricacies and whether the interest rates and auxiliary practices of SKS are truly helping or hurting the world's poor. Akula's achievements in microfinance are commendable, and his story is compelling. However, it's still hard to accept for-profit lending to the poor as a noble option. I hope to read more about it to understand the intricacies and whether the interest rates and auxiliary practices of SKS are truly helping or hurting the world's poor.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Nancy

    He certainly is an optimist! Akula is open about his passion and his failures. I found it endearing. I am sure there is reason to criticize his approach, but I'll refrain since the book certainly doesn't provide enough depth for that. Toward the end I found him exposing his naivete with his repeated comment "Everybody Wins!" Regardless, this is a book worth reading. He certainly is an optimist! Akula is open about his passion and his failures. I found it endearing. I am sure there is reason to criticize his approach, but I'll refrain since the book certainly doesn't provide enough depth for that. Toward the end I found him exposing his naivete with his repeated comment "Everybody Wins!" Regardless, this is a book worth reading.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Sarath Krishnan

    I have read it in a single sitting, not because it is a "classic" (by the way, classics need to be chewed, hence need a long time to finish), but because the language is simple, and the author doesn't have a lot to talk about: a modern day missionary who wants to save the world. I don't want to comment about the positives and negatives of his mission, as I got only one-side vision.. I have read it in a single sitting, not because it is a "classic" (by the way, classics need to be chewed, hence need a long time to finish), but because the language is simple, and the author doesn't have a lot to talk about: a modern day missionary who wants to save the world. I don't want to comment about the positives and negatives of his mission, as I got only one-side vision..

  29. 5 out of 5

    Lydia

    This is one of those that we get as a review copy. About a competitor to Mohammed Yunus in microfinance. Interesting read that I got into after a trip to India. Vikram seems to have a chip on his shoulder re: Yunus though. Quick, interesting book on finance efforts in third world.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Karen

    Very interesting book about microfinance. I'd love to read another viewpoint of Mr Akula and SKS Microfinance since this one was necessarily biased. This book had some great content but also left out a lot because most things were described only at a high level. Very interesting book about microfinance. I'd love to read another viewpoint of Mr Akula and SKS Microfinance since this one was necessarily biased. This book had some great content but also left out a lot because most things were described only at a high level.

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