SKS Chairperson and Founder, Vikram Akula, recognized by Time Magazine as one of today's 100 most influential people 

December 5, 2006
SKS Founder and CEO, Vikram Akula, Receives MIT Technovators Award
New York � Founder and CEO of SKS Microfinance, Vikram Akula, was awarded the Global Indus Technovators Awards 2006 for his organization�s work in cutting edge technology in the field of microfinance. Vikram was recognized along with nine other young innovators of Indian origin working in the fields of biotechnology, medicine, healthcare, optics, optoelectronics and information technology.

SKS is recognized as one of the first microfinance institutions in the world to have a fully-automated Management Information System (MIS) that streamlines operations and helps reduce transaction costs. The ease-of-use of this system allows SKS field-staff, most with no more than a 10th grade education, to independently handle up to 600 borrowers each and up to 30 lakhs ($65,000) of loans. SKS was also one of the first MFIs to run a smart-card pilot project in 2001-2001. The pilot aimed to reduce the increased cost and time involved in conducting thousands of manual transactions. Though the smart-card never rolled out, SKS is now working with VISA International on using a cell-phone based Point-Of-Sale (POS) device that will allow members to use magnetic-stripe cards as cash substitutes.

Vikram noted, �this award is a recognition of SKS� achievement as a technological innovator in the industry. We hope that others in the microfinance field follow suit and adopt automation as a standard business practice. This can only help the industry grow to new heights, and help us provide financial services to greater numbers of poor around the world.�

The Globus Indus Technovators Awards 2006 is an initiative of the Indian Business Club at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Other winners were Adam Rasheed, Rajeev Ram, Aref Chowdhury, Krishna Kumar, Shiladitya Sengupta, Anita Goel, Sameer Sawarkar, Anuj Batra and Rajit Manohar.

Dr. Anita Goel, Dr. Krishna Kumar and Dr. Shiladitya Sengupta won the awards in the area of biotechnology/medicine/healthcare. Goel is the president of Nanobiosym Labs and Nanobiosym Diagnostics Inc., which focus on developing next-generation diagnostic capabilities. Kumar, chairperson of the department of chemistry at Tufts University, is an expert on peptide therapies and has authored patents with an immense potential to impact cancer management. Sengupta, co-founder of ANGENIX Ltd. won the award for one of his biggest innovations, the nano cell, according to a press release. Dr. Aref Chowdhury, Dr. Rajeev V. Ram and Dr. Adam Rasheed - are the three recipients of the materials and devices awards. Chowdhury is a technical staff member at Bell Labs and his innovations are in the field of nonlinear optics, a field critical to improving long-haul optical transport networks. Ram, currently a faculty member at MIT, is widely acknowledged for his work in the field of optoelectronics and is one of the pioneers in the semiconductor based laser science and technology. Rasheed, a research engineer at GE Global Research Center, is widely recognized for his work in the GE-NASA project on pulsed detection engine feeding an axial turbine, for which he received the innovator award. Dr. Anuj Batra and Dr. Rajit Manohar - won the award in the field of information technology. Batra, who currently works on high speed digital communication technology at Texas Instruments -, is highly acknowledged for his developmental efforts of ultra wideband - technology. Manohar, cofounder of Achronix Semiconductor, is currently an associate professor in the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Cornell University and is a pioneer in asynchronous semiconductor design. The winners of this year's Grassroots category award are Vikram Akula - and Sameer Sawarkar -. Akula launched SKS Microfinance in 1998. It is one of the fastest growing microfinance organisations in the world, having provided over $33 million in loans and helping over 300,000 people in becoming economically self reliant. Sawarkar, founder of Neurosynaptic Communications Pvt, Ltd, works in the areas of remote medical diagnostics and telemedicine.

About the Indian Business Club (IBC)
IBC is a student-run organisation chaired by graduate students at MIT. It was established in 2002 as an initiative of Sangam, the Indian student's organisation at MIT.
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