Dr. P.V. Viswanath



Economics/Finance on the Web
Student Interest

  Courses / FIN 680V/FIN 360  

FIN 680V/ FIN 360:
The Practice of Microfinance in India
, Fall 2015

Course meets selected Fridays, 10am to 1 pm in room W623, 1 Pace Plaza, New York
Email: pviswanath@pace.edu Tel: (212) 618-6518
Webpage: http://www.pviswanath.com
Blackboard: http://blackboard.pace.edu

Office W433, Pace New York
Office hours: Wednesdays, 2pm to 5pm and Fridays, 1pm to 3pm and by appointment
Note:  I am in my office in New York most of the week; let me know if you want to see me at other times.



Course Objectives

The primary objective of this course is to provide the student with an introduction to the practice of microfinance in India. In order to prepare the student to understand how microfinance is practised in India, the course will also provide the student with an introduction to the Indian economy and to relevant issues in economic development.

Students will learn about the economics of microfinance; both the concepts and the practice of this revolutionary technique that has changed the life of many poor families in developing countries and which has earned its originator, Muhammad Yunus, a Nobel Prize. 

In our trip to India, we will visit microfinance institutions (MFIs) in Kerala and Mumbai. In Kerala, we will visit MFIs in Thrissur, Palakkad and Ernakulam; in Mumbai, we will visit several microfinance institutions involved in microsavings, microcredit and micromortgages. In several of these MFIs, students will also participate in a hands-on project to give them a feel for what microfinance is and what it entails.

Course Text

Required Text: Reading materials will be provided on Blackboard in the Documents section. In addition, students will read from The Economics of Microfinance, MIT Press, 2010, written by Beatriz Armendariz and Jonathan Morduch. You can find an older version of this textbook online. This should be sufficient. I will post other chapters, as necessary. However, if you buy a copy of the second edition for yourself, it will be worthwhile.

E-mail Policy:

You should obtain a Pace e-mail address as soon as possible, so that I can send you e-mail. Any student's Pace e-mail address can be obtained by going to http://whitepages.pace.edu/.  More information about e-mail address, etc. can be obtained from the Pace ITS website.  Even if you have another e-mail address where you wish to get your e-mail, you should still get a Pace e-mail address.  Once you have your Pace e-mail account and password, have your e-mail forwarded to your preferred e-mail address.  You can find information on how to have your mail automatically forwarded at the Pace ITS website.  The only way that I can communicate with you is through your Pace e-mail account.  So please get your Pace account information as soon as possible.

I am available for consultation by e-mail at pviswanath@pace.edu. I check my e-mail practically every day, and, in most cases, you should get a speedy response to any questions.  

Academic Integrity

The school's academic integrity statement can be found here. Academic integrity infractions can include, but are not limited to, copying and presenting the work of another as your own, collaborating with others on assignments intended to be done individually, using unauthorized resources such as an instructor's manual to complete assignments, copying the work of others during an exam, and failing to reference the work of others or creating fake references in your assignments. You may receive a failing grade in any assignment, exam, or course in which an infraction takes place, and you may be suspended or expelled from the school. If you need more information on how to avoid plagiarism, you can find it on the Library's website.

Disability Policy

Please refer to the Pace website for the school's policies on students with disabilities, affirmative action and emergency closings.

Course Requirements

Course Activities:

There will be three kinds of course activities:

  • Online discussion
  • In-class meetings
  • Trip to various locations in Palakkad, Thrissur, Ernakulam and Mumbai.

Participation in all three aspects of the course is required.


There will be a single exam (only for undergraduates) at the end of the term, based partly on a pre-assigned question list.

Online Discussion:

Readings will be assigned every week. Online discussion will take place using the Discussion Board on Blackboard. New topics will be assigned every week.

The Discussion Board forums are an important part of the course. You will be given articles to read and react to. At the bottom of the article, you will generally find some comments/questions at the bottom of the article; however, you should not treat these questions as requiring "answers" necessarily. Rather treat them as my thoughts and simply comment on the issues raised by the article or by the information contained in the article. Even if you are reacting to my thoughts, the structure of your posting should not in the form of an "answer" to my questions. I will deduct points if you ignore this requirement! Postings must be made according to the schedule indicated on the calendar. Do not start new threads unless you have also responded to a previous posting in an existing thread.

Postings will be evaluated according to the following criteria:

  1. Originality
  2. Proper Grammar and correctness of spelling
  3. Logic of arguments
  4. Relating arguments to previous posts (the sequence of posts is supposed to represent a conversation -- not a set of unrelated posts of people talking past each other!).
  5. Relating arguments to issues brought up in the text and on the slides.

There will be at least two Blackboard discussions. Please read everybody's posting and reply to them. Look at the discussion forum every couple of days, at least, and keep the discussion vigorous.

In-class Meetings:

Information about in-class meetings are available on the Course Calendar on Blackboard.

Written Assignments:

In addition to attendance, there will several writing assignments.

  • Write-up on the India visit, required for both graduate and undergraduate students. This will consist of a general report on the trip; this report will relate the lessons learned from the visit to the issues brought up and discussed during the term. The length of this report may be from 2 to 4 pages.
  • In addition to the above, graduate students will be required to work on a term paper pertaining to some aspect of microfinance. The length of this report could be anywhere from 6 to 12 pages.
    • This term paper could be either original research on microfinance, or a literature survey of a specific microfinance topic. Alternatively, it could present a single published research paper.
    • Data used and presented must be documented by providing sources -- if the sources are websites, then the complete URL must be provided, as well as the date that the website was viewed.
    • Text can be quoted from sources, but this should be done sparingly. In any case, such quotations should be set off by a paragraph or put in inverted commas. Plagiarism will not be tolerated.
    • Attention should be paid to spelling, grammar and sentence structure. Make sure that your paper has a theme and has a flow; make use of paragraphs to introduce new ideas.
    • The paper should have a title, a date and an abstract of one or two paragraphs, which will function in the nature of an executive summary.
  • Students are expected to present their findings in a powerpoint presentation to the entire class during the last class session(s). (See course outline for details.) The number of slides that makes for an effective presentation in the time allotted (about 15 minutes, unless you're informed otherwise in class) is about 10-15.
    • The powerpoint slides have to be submitted for evaluation.
    • Make sure that the essence of the presentation is contained in the powerpiont slides.
    • The presentation should make sure to provide the thesis of the paper and this should be clear in the slides, as well.
    • One slide should contain one idea -- if more than one idea is presented in one slide, there should be some thematic connection. In any case, the amount of material in one slide should be limited and easily read.
    • Use bullets in your slides to present your points.
  • Students are also required to write an additional report related to the Microfinance and Education Project, details of which can be found on the left-hand side menu in Blackboard under Project

Readings by Area:

See Blackboard


For graduate students, MBA 648 (Minimum Grade of C)
For undergraduate students, FIN 260


Your final grade will be determined as follows:

Factor  Impact on grade
Online Discussion 20%
General Trip report (Post-visit) 20%
Term/Theme Paper and Presentation 35% (25% for undergraduates)
Field Study 20% (30% for undergraduates)
Class Participation 5%
Quizzes (Bonus) 5%

Letter grades will be assigned as follows:  

Course Grade Quantitative Class Score
A, A- 90%-100%
B+, B 80%-89.99%
B-, C+ 70%-79.99%
C 60-69.99%
F 0-59.99%

Note that the minimum and maximum quantitative scores for plus and minus refinements to the letter grades will be at my discretion. These will be partly determined by the distribution of student scores within each letter grade category.   I place a high value on effort; at my discretion, I will raise your grade one notch if I feel that you have tried hard to satisfy all the requirements of the course.