As the Kshetriya Gramin Financial Services (KGFS) initiative is unique, IFMR Trust has made every effort to recruit suitable people and design and implement appropriate training programmes for staff at various levels.
To select and train KGFS Relationship Officers (ROs), IFMR Trust has partnered with an investee company, STRiVE, which is building networks for skills development of youth from rural areas.
STRiVE worked with three training institutes in its network to invite applications and interview potential candidates for the post of RO.
ROs were expected to have completed higher secondary education, have sound knowledge of basic mathematics and be fluent in Tamil.
Around 125 candidates were shortlisted and 34 were selected.
The first batch of ROs was trained in May 2008. More training programmes are planned to be held every month.
Each RO training programme runs for 20 days.
Janhavi Dave, Associate, HR and Training, IFMR Trust, explains that essentially each training programme consists of time-bound modules on topics like basic computer skills, basic written and spoken English skills, and office management skills.
“In June 2008, after the KGFS rollout, we will push for another round of training on appraisals, on software and a short refresher course on products,” she adds.
To select KGFS CEOs, IFMR Trust relied on a full-time residential programme for officers from the three wings of the Indian armed forces, offered by the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad (IIM-A) and Symbiosis, Pune, in collaboration with the Directorate-General of Resettlement, Ministry of Defence (DGR-MoD).
The programme aims at providing management education to officers of the Indian armed forces, whether in short commission or regular commission so that they can meet corporate needs after retirement.
Participants are handpicked by the DGR-MoD from amongst eligible officers. The programme packs in all the modules of a standard MBA course.
The first lot of KGFS CEOs are from this background. After the appointment, they underwent a 30-day training course at IIM-A, followed by an induction programme of the same duration at IFMR Trust.
They also received inputs on products, sales, marketing and HR from MicroSave India.
A highlight of the induction programme is that CEOs have to live with a rural family in order to better understand local nuances and customs, as well as to get a concrete idea about typical spending habits.
KGFS CEOs work in tandem with Chief Operating Officers (COOs) who come from relevant banking and finance backgrounds.
COOs undergo an induction programme on microfinance, followed by a round of training on external communications.
“The latter is essential to understand the subtleties and significance of interfacing with external parties like panchayats and local social and cultural organisations,” Dave explains.
IFMR Trust is using inputs from various resource organisations, such as IFMR’s Centre for Microfinance, to design programmes for other KGFS-related needs.
Says Dave: “Our training inputs will be continuously planned, based on the feedback we get from our staff, and new demands.”
“Training will also move from one geography to another and an attempt will be made to do as much training as possible on the field,” she adds.