Social Entrepreneur and the Founder of SKS Microfinance
About Vikram Akula
The founder of SKS Microfinance, a company that has helped millions of Indians realize their entrepreneurial dreams, Vikram Akula now spearheads an effort to bring mobile banking to India. Vikram Akula aims to create a new mobile banking ecosystem centered around kirana stores, small village grocery stores located throughout the country. This project involves coordination between mobile phone companies, banks, technology providers, and storeowners. By increasing the use of mobile banking through an incentive system, he hopes to create the demand necessary for supply-side professionals to invest in their systems and make banking accessible to any individual with a mobile phone.
Vikram Akula founded SKS in 1997. In 2005, he led the company’s conversion to a for-profit company, which allowed SKS to bring its microloan system to the entirety of India. To accomplish this goal, Vikram Akula implemented a commercial model that attracted mainstream capital, which in turn allowed SKS to scale its product and offer microloans to millions of Indians. His efforts attracted the attention of leading venture capitalists, such as and George Soros, Vinod Khosla, and Narayan Murthy. In 2010, SKS underwent a successful initial public offering, which was oversubscribed 14 times.
Over the course of his career, Vikram Akula has earned recognition from multiple sources for his contributions to economic development in India. Ernst & Young named Vikram Akula Entrepreneur of the Year for startups in 2006 and for business transformation in 2010. He also received the title Social Entrepreneur of the Year in India in 2006. That same year, Time magazine included him on its list of the 100 Most Influential People. In 2008, the World Economic Forum named him a Young Global Leader award.
Vikram Akula has a Ph.D. in political science from the University of Chicago. His dissertation focused on the socioeconomic impact of microfinance, which was also the theme of his book, A Fistful of Rice: My Unexpected Quest to End Poverty Through Profitability. Before pursuing doctoral studies, Dr. Akula earned M.A. in international relations from Yale University and a B.A. in English and philosophy from Tufts University.