- Q: Why was the Virtual Library on Microcredit setup?
- The VLM was set up to be a repository of information on microcredit (in a broad meaning of the term to include microcredit, community development, NGOs, poverty, environment, microenterprises etc.). Its main aim is to support microfinance and related activities with information on policies, strategies, tools, case studies etc.
- Q: What topics and regions are covered in the website?
- Topically, the following are covered: informal credit, microcredit, community-based finance, community organization, participation, roles of NGOs, credit access for women, microenterprises, linking savings and credit, capacity building for microfinance, credit unions and cooperatives etc. The range of topics are kept flexible and relevant to the overall theme of microcredit. 'Microcredit'itself includes both credit and savings.
Urban and rural areas of low-income and transitional economies in Asia, Africa, Latin America and Central/Eastern Europe are the primary focus.
- Q: What can I do on the website?
- Among other things, users can -
- Utilize strategies, tools, policies etc. on microcredit and related issues.
- Learn from case studies, analyses and illustrations.
- Visit other websites of related interest
- Do research using the bibliography and references.
- Communicate with other individuals using mailing lists.
- Post a message for requests, queries or resources.
- Participate in the Inspiring Ideas Initiative.
- Take the Microbanking Cybercourse (planned)
- Contribute write-ups, case studies and articles to the website
- Assist in dissemination of information on microfinance to non-internet users locally.
- Q: Who are the target audience for the website?
- The range is kept broad, from academics and researchers to practitioners, including government bodies, international and donor agencies, NGOs, and community organizations. This broad audience base is necessary due to the interdisciplinary nature of the contents itself!
- Q: Why is the Internet used as a means of dissemination?
- The Internet is used as a medium of dissemination of the VLM's archives and activities for the many reasons - updating information becomes easy and regular; information is the latest and current - to the extent possible; the speed of delivery of information is high; web design enables it to become a book, bulletin and brochure rolled into one; communication between VLM's users and contributors is done over the internet etc. Being fully aware that access to the internet is weak in developing countries, other non-internet means of access are also being explored.
- Q: How is information gathered for the website?
- The information contained in the website is essentially of two types: as local files within the website (more than 1500), and as links over the internet (about 600 links) to sites having related/useful contents.
The information is gathered in many ways:
- Masters and doctoral dissertation reports, and its supportive field notes, and research reports are abstracted and relevant sections added
- Field observations, evaluations and case studies are included on an on-going basis.
- Contributions are received from individuals on a variety of topics who would like to see their document/article hosted on the web.
- Email messages from mailing lists - which might be of lasting interest to users beyond list members - are used, subject to approval of the author.
- Links to interesting and related websites are made by searching the internet using tools, indices, and yellow pages. This process of linking to other websites also ensures that duplication and overlap is also avoided.
- Q: Who maintains/updates the website? How often is it done?
- The conceptualization, development and maintenance has been/is done by Hari Srinivas, coordinator of the website. An average of 15 hours a week is spent on its development. The process is continuous, done either daily or at least four-five times a week. The "Whats New" section gives an idea.
Information on documents and resources added to the website is also sent via email on the first of every month. If you would like to receive the website Updates, then please fill in the form on the website or send your email address to firstname.lastname@example.org
As with most internet websites, a considerable amount of effort and time also goes to answering questions, queries, offering comments etc.
- Q: Are any non-internet or outreach activities carried out by the website?
- Much of the outreach activities on behalf of the website involved participation and support to regional meetings and networks of microfinance institutions. Presentations of the website contents are frequently done in various fora to increase participation in its development. Currently programmes and networks in India, Southeast Asia and Central/Eastern Europe are being assisted.
Microfinance programmes who have access to an internet service provider (ISP) and are interested in writing their own websites (or have queries regarding internet publishing) are assisted with appropriate inputs.
- Q: Is a text and/or print version of the website available?
- The website Master Index provides a quick overview of ALL information available on the website and links to them. A print version is not available as of now. A catalogue of all the information available in the website, along with annotations/abstracts, can be made available to non-internet users, as a part of GDRC's capacity building strategy.
- Q: What are the future plans for the website?
The future plans for the website include:
- To extend the utility value of the website's information to users who do not have access to the internet.
- To continue to add, update, and maintain information on the website. Research being done, database of researchers/experts, addresses of organizations, NGOs, and universities are some of the features planned for the future. This also includes hosting articles and information on relevant NGOs that do not have a website of their own.
- To set up an Advisory Committee which would guide the development of the website and increase its utility value and outreach, both virtual and real. Do you have anyone in mind? Nominations are welcome.
- To initiate and utilize the information in the website for training and awareness creation purposes particularly in countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America (information from the website is already being used by various persons/academics for this purpose, but is not endorsed by the website developer). Three types of users, academics/research institutions, NGOs, and community groups will be targeted.
- To develop the idea of a "cybercourse" on microfinance and micro-banking.
- To make the website user friendly to facilitate users in low-income countries - essentially the target of the website. This may also entail simplifying the graphics to reduce download time.
- Q: How can I contact the coordinator of the Virtual Library on Microcredit?
- At the following address:
- Hari Srinivas
- Fax: +(81-78) 452-8414
- Email: email@example.com