Dr. P.V. Viswanath



Economics/Finance on the Web
Student Interest

  Courses / FIN 680V/FIN 360  

FIN 680V/ FIN 360:
Microfinance and Small Business Financing in India

Thursdays, 6 pm to 8 pm in room no. E319, 1 Pace Plaza, New York
Email: pviswanath@pace.edu Tel: (212) 618-6518
Webpage: http://www.pviswanath.com
Blackboard: http://blackboard.pace.edu

Office W416, Pace New York
Office hours: Wednesdays, 12 noon to 2:30 pm and Thursdays, 10:45 to 1:15 pm 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 Indian economy, with a focus on microfinance and small business finance.

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 some small businesses in Chennai, but the highpoint of our trip will be a one-day workshop on microfinance in India followed by a field trip to a village in rural Thanjavur where we will see how microfinance is practiced under the auspices of the KGFS. Students will also participate in a hands-on project to give them a feel for what microfinance is and what it entails. We will also visit a management institute in Pondicherry, on the road between Chennai and Thanjavur.

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.

Computer Use and 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 the Contact Pace section of the main Pace Home Page (the default password is the studentís Pace Identification Number).  More information about e-mail address, etc. can be obtained from the DoIT 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, you can go to the Pace University Student E-Mail Server at http://stmail.pace.edu and have your e-mail forwarded to your preferred e-mail address.  You can find information on how to have your mail automatically forwarded at http://www.pace.edu/DoIT/forward/The only way that I can communicate with you is through your Pace e-mail account.  Hence, it behooves you to get your Pace account information as soon as possible.

Check your e-mail and the FIN 680V/FIN 360 website on a regular basis.  This will enable you to get the maximum from the course. 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.  

We will also be using Blackboard as a gateway for some aspects of the course.  Please log in to Blackboard at the earliest opportunity.    Blackboard login procedures can be found on the appropriate Blackboard site.  Essentially, your login ID for Blackboard will be your email ID, and your password will be your 9-digit social security number (for more details, go to the Blackboard site).  

Academic Integrity

Any student taking this course is presumed to agree to abide by the school policy on academic integrity, as described on page L-52 of the Graduate Catalog 2006-2007. Please obtain a copy of the catalog and familiarize yourself with the policy.

Disability Policy

School policy regarding disabilities is described on page L-56 of the Graduate Catalog. You can contact the disabilities coordinator at 212-346-1526. Information can also be found on the University webpage.

Course Requirements

Course Activities:

There will be three kinds of course activities:

  • Online discussion
  • In-class meetings
  • Trip to various locations in Chennai, Pondicherry and Thanjavur.

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 Outline page.

Written Assignments:

In addition to attendance, there will one written assignment for undergraduate students and two for graduate students.

  • Write-up on the India visit. This will consist of two components:
    • one, 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 Fall term. The length of this report may be from 2 to 4 pages.
    • two, specialized reports: one will be on the Thanjavur field-trip and the one-day IFMR workshop on Chennai; the other will focus on any other (non-cultural) visit in Chennai or Pondicherry. These reports will discuss the particular organization visited and related issues in detail. These reports should be about one to two 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.

Readings by Area:

See Course Outline and 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 40%
Post-visit report 20%
Term Paper and Presentation 40% (0% for undergraduates)
Final Exam 0% (40% for undergraduates)

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.