An assessment of Pradan’s ‘Computer Munshi’ intervention to improve microfinance accounting operations

  • Aishwarya Ratan

Several commentaries and reports have been in circulation regarding the Indian NGO Pradan‟s „Computer Munshi‟ (CM) intervention to improve the bookkeeping quality of microfinance collectives (Self-Help Groups – SHGs) by connecting these groups with trained accountants („munshis‟) who use a PC with accounting software to maintain an electronic database of SHG financial records and transactions. In this report, we analyse qualitative data collected from site visits to three CM locations – one in West Bengal state (Purulia) and two in the state of Orissa (Keonjhar and Karanjia) in August 2006, and overlay the operational details of the CM system on the designed „model‟ to highlight where the two are aligned and where they diverge. A few core insights are drawn from the overall design and functioning of the project, which are relevant to any number of planned and implemented projects in the use of Information Technology (IT) for rural development.