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A Fistful of Rice: My Unexpected Quest to End Poverty Through Profitability Hardcover – November 9, 2010


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Harvard Business Review Press (November 9, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1422131173
  • ISBN-13: 978-1422131176
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.8 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,050,152 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

“… heartfelt manifest...This thoughtful book presents a rare melding of genuine compassion with a businessman's commitment to efficiency and growth…intriguing and…insightful” – Publisher’s Weekly

An “engaging account…” – Fast Company

“This absorbing book tells the story of how Vikram Akula turned an idealistic vision into a thriving business that today serves millions of poor women in India. I have witnessed firsthand how SKS Microfinance has had an amazing impact in India compared to other poverty-reduction programs.” – Vinod Khosla, Cofounder, Sun Microsystems, and Principal, Khosla Ventures

“…an inspiring autobiographical story of an American of Indian origin who went to India to help the rural poor…” – Foreign Affairs

About the Author

Vikram Akula is the founder and chair of SKS Microfinance. In 2006, Time magazine named him one of the world's 100 most influential people. He has received several awards, including the World Economic Young Global Leader (2008), the Schwab Social Entrepreneur of the Year in India (2006), and the Ernst & Young Start-Up Entrepreneur of the Year in India (2006). He has been profiled in media ranging from CNN to the front page of the Wall Street Journal.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Ratna Dalal on September 9, 2011
Format: Hardcover
We are living in strange times. In the past, people migrated from the east to the west, in search of better opportunities. Now the new-age kids of these immigrants are starting a new trend. They are moving or travelling from the west to the east, in search of better opportunities. Some examples of these are:

*Anand Giridharadas who lives in U.S.A. and wrote a book about India.
*Meenal Hazratwala who lives is U.S.A. but spent considerable time in India to write a book about her family's history.
*Somini Sengupta lives in U.S.A. but writes about India and other topics for New York Times.

And now comes Vikram Akula's book titled `A Fistful of Rice'. This book takes the reader on a journey from Schenectady, New York to Hyderabad, India; from where the author's ancestors originated. Vikram grew up in NY state and spent summer vacations in India. During each visit he was moved by the poverty there. On his first visit to India at age seven, an incident moved him very deeply. While staying with his aunt, a poor woman came to sell steel pots at her door. After accepting a few, his aunt paid the woman not with money but with a fistful of rice in her stretched garment. The author say "a few grains - maybe fifteen in all, fell to the floor...to my astonishment, the woman reached down and pressed her finger against each grain to pick it up. This woman was carefully scouring the floor, making sure she hadn't missed a single grain. This, I suddenly realized, was what it meant to be truly hungry."

This incident laid the seeds of what Vikram would do when he grew up. In his freshman year "in a moment of teenage zeal" he wrote that "he wanted to eradicate poverty with the discipline of a marine." Sounds like Miss Universe saying she wants to promote world peace!
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Vaishali Naroola on February 22, 2011
Format: Hardcover
"In return for SKS's distribution, Nokia offers our members handsets at a steep discount, and Airtel offered a significant reduction on the cost of the minutes. SKS finances the purchase, and 'just like that' tens of thousands of rural poor got access to cell phones they couldn't previously afford, while the phone companies got a whole new client base. Once again, we brokered a deal in which everyone wins."

This is one of my favorite examples from the book, where SKS members benefitted. Behind the author's `just like that' is a will of steel, a heart of gold, hours of hard work, and the genuine selfless desire to makes the lives of the poor better.

It is what is behind this `just like that' that the book takes you through and proves to the world that if folks don't get stuck on ideologies of non-profit vs. for profit, there is quite a lot of progress that can be made at the bottom of the pyramid. Microfinance is a powerful way to affect drastic change at the grass roots level. There are some parallels in the book that can be applied to inherently risky initiatives such as anti slavery, anti prostitution, anti child labor.

The hands holding a fistful of rice on the cover of the book are beautiful because those very hands worked very hard and earned the very rice they are holding and all anyone asks for is just that.
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Amit Garg on January 2, 2011
Format: Hardcover
This was a surprising find. I hadn't quite heard of the author or his good work before but as the book progressed, it was easy to be impressed by the Author's accomplishments and vision.

An easy read with great insight into the world of poor. Micro-finance provides proof that poor are smart enough to help themselves, all they need are the means. This book is great at explaining how it actually works. A part of the book was used to justify the for profit label of Vikam's organization. The volume of its organization's members combined with its grass root level reach with significant interest from corporate financiers all ratify Vikram's vision of the larger good.

Wishing Vikram luck and hoping it spurns more revolutionary ideas for the betterment of masses.
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Format: Hardcover
Entrepreneur Vikram Akula inspires and tells a compelling story. He shares his personal history and his passion for eradicating poverty in India, while educating readers about the origins of microfinance and his search for a better way to help the poor. His firm, SKS Microfinance, has become a profitable business that makes money for investors while helping millions of impoverished people in India. Akula doesn't flinch from explaining the controversy involved in making microfinance a for-profit enterprise where better-known programs are nonprofits, believing that his model keeps investors engaged. Akula's writing is persuasive, his story is fascinating and his ideas are influential, as billionaires Bill Gates and Warren Buffett can attest. While Akula could have added even more heartfelt inspiration by including less history of microfinance and more stories of real people and what they did with their loans, this is an important story. getAbstract believes that this book will resonate deeply with any entrepreneurs, dreamers or desk jockeys who have a belief that it's possible to change the world, as well as with bankers, executives and those already fighting the good fight in the field of nonprofits.
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