Friday, December 28, 2007

Buy Groceries Online in India

Its been sometime since Indian customers have had access to online shopping like etc, but there has never been a website that offers groceries online. In the US , has had success in creating a niche market for online grocery customers. Now is attempting to provide Indian customers with a way to buy groceries online

What is Storrz?

"Storrz.Com provides a complete ecosystem where real world retailers can interact with consumers on line and trade their produce. The Marketplace has been designed with the best features of a traditional mall and the latest on on-line shopping. Storrz.Com is a marketplace not a online store. This brings you larger number of customers than your traditional online store. This also reduces your cost of marketing. Every visitor to the shopping mall can reach your store and this increases you foot falls."

To me Storrz is attempting an ebay in India accept that it is trying to bring existing online retailers under one roof and streamline the distribution and delivery process. Ebay started as an individual marketplace and in the process created retailers.

Can Storrz be successful in the long run ?

  1. Storrz has some good online merchants on its list of customers like Perdigree -Pet foods ,Roots Music and Industree Crafts. But to me the biggest driver of customers shopping on its website will be the Namdharis- Fresh and Value Mart which are grocery stores. The metros has a considerably large population of customers who would buy Groceries online now .
  2. Storrz has the first mover advantage in this space but doesnt appear that there are any barriers to entry for others. Storrz needs to act fast to add many retailers as its customers especially the big ones or else we will see a lot of other such websites spring up and create a competetive environment putting pressure on their margins.
  3. Distribution and delivery will always be a challenge in India and claiming to distribute fresh perishable items only magnifies the challenges.
  4. Indians are extremely price sensitive customers and for any company to be successful in India the focus has to be to on volume. Storrz would need to strike a balance between these price sensitive customers on one side and retailers on the other

Storrz definitely has the potential to be successful but faces significant challenges in doing business in India. Only time will tell if Storrz can deliver groceries online all over India every time!

Why do Indians Love Gold?

A number of experts have suggested that one of the big factors that is driving up Gold prices is the consumption in India and China for gold assets.Gold is just a metal but for most Indians, it is a symbol of purity and wealth and hence they continue to buy gold

Why do Indians love gold? What cultural influences lead to this love for Gold?

1)Hindu Mythology

In the hindu mythological stories, some goddesses are described golden-hued ; a term used to desctibe "ultimately beautiful".Gold is referred to as the seed of Agni, the God of Fire. A story in the Hindu Mythology states that during the creation of the Universe, the Creator deposited a seed in the waters made from his body which became a golden egg , bright like the sun.Manu the ancient law-giver stated that golden ornaments should be worn for specific ceremonies and occasions.Tales from the Ramayana and Mahabharata depicts Gods and Godesses on gold chariots.


Gold is considered sacred in every hindu religious festival because of the belief that gold becomes pure during its evolution process as it passes through fire .In fact, Indians sell gold only as a last resort ,before most assets are liquidated


India has seen thousands of wars and many kings and dynasties have ruled the Indian subcontinet. Different kingdoms had different monetary systems but Gold acted as a common medium of exchange across the various monetary systems.

India is a vast country with many cultures, subcultures, customs, foods and dresses but gold is sought across the entire spectrum of Indian cultures. The rich and the poor both equally desire gold. Gold is used in special occasions like weddings, births, birthdays, and various festivals. Gold is bought all over India for the Diwali (around October-November) festival. People also buy gold during regional festivals like Onam,Pongal and Durga Puja in the East.Accoording to the Hindu calendar Dhanteras and Dassera are auspicious days to buy gold In rural India, harvest festivals are occasions to buy gold.

5)Symbol of Wealth

Gold is exchanged during Indian weddings.Average Families start saving soon after their children are born - for "stridhan" and dowry, in case a daughter is born. Gold is a status symbol in the Indian culture and people take pride in displaying gold during occassions.

The 5 points above explain why Indians love gold and as the economic boom puts more money into the pockets of the Indians, Indians will buy more and more gold! Infact the large Indian dispora in Dubai, US and UK continue to put a large chunk of their savings in Gold. Ofcourse this is not the only factor that has driven up the price of gold, the continued dollar weakness and oil prices have all contributed to the astronomical prices of gold today!

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Indian Microfinance companies on Forbes List

The following companies featured in the top 50 list of microfinance companies. Here is a brief description and statistics of these companies that provide a perspective on the work they have been doing in India.

Bandhan(2nd):In its first ever list of World's Top 50 Microfinance Institutions, the US business magazine has named Bangalore-based Bandhan at the second position.Bandhan is working towards the twin objective of poverty alleviation and women empowerment. It
strive's to create a society with social justice and equal opportunity for people to realize their potential.

Bandhan 's Reach

No. of states :6

No. of branches:416

No. of members:799,885
No. of staff:2,295

Cumulative loan disbursed:Rs. 641 crores
Loan outstanding:Rs. 238 crores

Microcredit Foundation of India(13th) : Microcredit Foundation of India (MFI) is a not-for-profit Section 25 Company in Tamil Nadu dedicated to promoting entrepreneurship and community level action in rural areas as a means to sustainable economic prosperity. Today MFI works primarily with women. Through its field staff, MFI helps them form Self Help Groups (SHGs), trains them in good financial practice, facilitates access to microcredit loans, equips them with business skills and facilitates access to new markets for their products.

Microcredit Foundation of India's reach
SHG member base 500,000

Villages covered 6,500
No. of districts 24

No. of offices 250
Loans disbursed Rs.500 crores (US$ 120 Million)

Saadhana Microfin Society (15th):SAADHANA is a non- profit organization established in the year 2001 to reach out to the urban and rural poor women with the specific mandate to catalyze the ‘Endeavor of the Poor for Self-Sufficiency’.The Mission of SAADHANA is to Provide Continuous Qualitative Financial Services to the poor women in urban and rural Areas of Andhra Pradesh by establishing a Self Sustainable Financial Institution with an objective of improving the Income Levels of the Clientele to attain Sustainable livelihoods and better quality of life.

Saadhana Microfin Society's Reach(* As of Sep 05)
Number of Centers 759

Number of Units 8
Number of Members 20420

Number of Groups 1896
Number of Active Clients 18230

Number of Active Loans 18230

Total Number of Loans 32381

Value of loans (Rs) Rs 201,610,000

Gross Loan Outstanding Rs78,727,891

Grameen Koota (19th): Grameen Koota was visualized in 1997 based on the book ‘Give us credit’, by Alex Counts, which gives an account of the impact of micro credit on the lives of the poor in Bangladesh and the United States.The vision of Grameen Koota is to impact poverty by bringing all mainstream financial and capacity building services to poor households in a sustainable manner.

Grameen Koota's Reach
Members 121359
Loan Outstanding INR 541,657611

Branches 44
Total Staff 409
Repayment Rate 99%

Sharada's Women's Association for Weaker Section (23rd):Sharada is committed to build a society that is equal and just where women have the opportunity to lead and infuse society with their values of non-violence and peace. We are committed to the empowerment of women in the fullest sense of the word and will strive to promote sustainable communities through the strengthening of people’s organization.

Sharada's reach( FY2006 -
Number of Personnel 303
Number of Active Borrowers 81,818

Average Loan Balance per Borrower (USD) 107
Loans Below US$300 100%
Women Borrowers 100%

SKS Microfinance Private Ltd (44th):Launched in 1998, SKS Microfinance is one of the fastest growing microfinance organizations in the world, having provided over $400 million (Rs 1600 crores) and has maintained loans outstanding of $170 million (660 crores) in loans to over 1,300,000 women members in poor regions of India. Borrowers take loans for a range of income-generating activities, including livestock, agriculture, trade (such as vegetable vending), production (from basket weaving to pottery) and new age businesses (Beauty Parlor to photography)

SKS Microfinance 's Reach
Clients :1,313,740
Branches :601
Amount Outstanding :INR 6,590,041,681

Asmitha Microfin Ltd (29th)

Asmitha Microfin's reach (03/31/2007)
Number of Personnel 1,105
Number of Active Borrowers 416,829

Average Loan Balance per borrower 109
Loan below US$300 100%

Woman Borrowers 100%

India Investments - Best Online Portfolio Trackers

In my previous post I spoke about the free investor services provided by CAMS for the benefit of mutual fund investors. With the equity boom in India, a number of portfolio managers or portfolio trackers have emerged on the internet. These online portfolio trackers enable an investor to keep track of various investments in stocks,mutual funds and bullion.

Equity Master Portfolio Tracker - This is one of the best portfolio trackers that I have come across to track financial investments(Stocks and Mutual Funds) in India.Besides all the standard features it allows you to create multiple portfolios with residential status's for tax calculations. This feature is unique to this tracker and is useful in tax planning. It also offers 10 reports to analyze portfolio composition and performance. The one caveat is that this tracker is not free and a 1 year suscription costs Rs 330. Resident Indians and Non Resident Indians can pay for their susbcriptions online using Credit Cards or Internet Banking (list of accepted Credit Cards and Banks. - The portfolio tracker offered by money control is free and is loaded with features. An investor can track investments in stocks,mutual funds, ULIPs, Bullion , Fixed Income and Property. If accurately used it is a very handy tool to track the short term and long term gains which are beneficial in tax planning.

"The Portfolio Manager comes along with some useful tools to gain useful insight of volatile markets. These tools help you to track the trends of your current investments as well as some stocks that have caught your eye.

These include :Transaction History ,Watch list ,News ,Messages ,Asset Spread ,Asset Risk ,Industry Classification,Quarterly Data,Best Worst Investments ,Financial Data ,Consolidated Stocks,Consolidated MF's"

There are a number of other good options including Sify's wallet watch, and Rediff Portfolio Tracker. But I prefer the portfolio managers listed above for their features and report generation capabilities. Check them out!

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

The Impact of the Delhi Metro

Unlike the Mumbai railway network, Delhi never had a mass transportation systems besides the buses.But after the start of the Delhi Metro in December 2002 , it has not just made traveling easy and comfortable but also made significant environmental and social impact on the Capital.Traffic had been an utter koas in Delhi before the start of the Metro rail, but there has been a progressive increase in the reduction in daily vehicle demand due to people shifting to the Metro rail for commuting.

  • A study conducted by the Central Road Research Institute (CRRI), reveals that the Metro railway has taken the share of 22,697 vehicles and this share is projected to increase approximately to 40,000 for all other modes of travel such as cars, buses, two wheelers and auto-rickshaws by the end of 2007. Correspondingly, 16.6 lakh vehicle km will be saved till 2007 and this is likely to result in a saving of various types such as maintenance cost of road vehicles by Rs. 218 crore, fuel saving worth Rs. 172 crore and saving in road maintenance cost of Rs. 288 crore
  • The Metro railway has resulted in reduced consumption of fuel containing hydrocarbons, the study claims this has resulted in emission savings of 2,275 tonnes. These saving are likely to go up to 3,968 tonnes by the end of this year.
  • People in the city save 66 minutes every day on an average by travelling to and fro by the Metro rail, which has resulted in a saving of Rs. 415 crore up to 2006 as their earning capacity time increases.
The Delhi Metro rail website states that

"The city of Delhi with a population of round 16.2 million should have had an MRTS network of at least 300 KM by this time, whereas actually it is still 65.10 kms at the take-off stage. Delhi has all the ideal dress-up for an excellent Mass Rapid Transit System to be brought in. It has wide roads (roads cover 23% of the city area) where road possession for construction is not difficult (except in the old city area). Implementation will also not involve demolition of large cale private properties. Most of the land required is under Government control and hence can be easily acquired."

The Delhi Metro alone cannot solve the ailing public transport crisis in the capital. With a public bus service, there has been no drop in the number of 600 new vehicles registered in Delhi every day.I have always maintained that India has made significant improvements to its infrastructure and is expected to make more in the next few years. But India has huge population and as long as people continue to move into cities in large numbers the government may find it difficult to fix the urban infrastructure issues of the metro cities. Hence significant policy changes are necessary for economic development to spread to all areas of the country to slow down the pace of migration of rural indians into cities.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Invest in the Indian Microfinance Industry

MicroPlace offers investment opportunities in India through Oikocredit, the world's largest private financier of the microfinance sector. For the first time, everyday people can make investments in India's working poor by leveraging the power of microfinance, and earn a return on their investment.

A number of Security issuers sell securities on MicroPlace, and use the funds generated to invest in microfinance. Security issuers are responsible for making interest and principal payments to the investor. An investor can invest a minimum of a $100 and buy these securities and that money is used to invest in Microfinance companies . The security issuers are responsible for the principal and interest payments to the individual investor.

MicroPlace is a registered broker-dealer with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), a government agency that sets rules for the securities industry. Being registered with the SEC allows Microplace to sell such securities to individual investors.

MicroPlace currently charges a fee to the organizations that offer investments through the MicroPlace website. This fee covers MicroPlace’s costs to support the website, provide customer service and be compliant with security regulations. MicroPlace does not charge any fees to the investor.

Currently Microplace is allowing investors seeking to invest in the India microfinance industry with the opportunity to invest in the Biswa MFI at 1.5% for 36 months (till 2-29-08)and the IIRM MFI(2-15-2008) at 2% for 15 months.

When I heard about this company my initial reaction was that the company is a clone; but a closer analysis shows that the business model between Kiva and Microplace is fundamentally different with the only similarities being that they both operate on the internet and invest in the Microfinance sector. Kiva is a non-profit organization while MicroPlace is a licensed broker dealer. Click here to read about all the differences between kiva and Microplace.

With the power of ebay in the business world, Microplace is well positioned to be a global marketplace for such securities. As social investors increase around the world and such companies are launched ,millions are expected to flow into the microfinance sector creating sustainable economic development for millions of poor people around the world.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Buying Gold in India

Gold is seen as an inflationary hedge and its value moves inversely to the value of the dollar. The growing uncertainties in the global economy and the rising middle class of India and China are propelling up the price of the gold. When buying gold an investor must clearly define the reasons to buy gold. People look at gold for purely investment purposes, jewellery or as an inflationary hedge.

There are some interesting articles available online at who are looking to buy gold in India.

Investing in Gold ETFs
Gold delivers… but not for you
Buying Gold from your bank?Beware!

These articles summarize a few important points for us

1)Banks in India are selling gold to us but they are charging a high premium.

2)Gold becomes attractive to your portfolio depending on the currency of your portfolio. For example Gold has seen good appreciation against the dollar in the last couple of years. But if you had invested using the Indian rupee, your returns will be very marginal.

3)Investing in Gold ETFS is not cheap in India as it involves expenses and entry loads.

Hence before buying gold in India, one must evaluate the premium being paid over the spot price of gold at any given date. Gold is at an all time high and a big correction in the gold prices has a potential to wipe out considerable gains from your portfolio. Watch out when you buy Gold in India!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Interesting Crime Statistics

A crime is an act that violates a political, religious, or moral command considered important in protecting the interests of the State or the welfare of its citizens or subjects. It is interesting to compare the crime statistics across the countries and see the results . Crime is committed by a person and one can only conclude anything by comparing per capita statistics.

So what can one interpret from these statistics?

New Zealand , UK and the US are all in the top 10 for crimes per capita , while India, Azerbaijan and Yemen are the lowest in the list with spots of 58,59 and 60 respectively. China does not even appear in the list!


Rank Countries Amount (top to bottom)
#1 Dominica: 113.822 per 1,000 people

#2 New Zealand: 105.881 per 1,000 people

#3 Finland: 101.526 per 1,000 people

#4 Denmark: 92.8277 per 1,000 people

#5 Chile: 88.226 per 1,000 people

#6 United Kingdom: 85.5517 per 1,000 people

#7 Montserrat: 80.3982 per 1,000 people

#8 United States: 80.0645 per 1,000 people

#9 Netherlands: 79.5779 per 1,000 people

#10 South Africa: 77.1862 per 1,000 people

#11 Germany: 75.9996 per 1,000 people

#12 Canada: 75.4921 per 1,000 people

#13 Norway: 71.8639 per 1,000 people

#14 France: 62.1843 per 1,000 people

#15 Seychelles: 52.9265 per 1,000 people

#16 Hungary: 44.9763 per 1,000 people

#17 Estonia: 43.3601 per 1,000 people

#18 Czech Republic: 38.2257 per 1,000 people

#19 Italy: 37.9633 per 1,000 people

#20 Switzerland: 36.1864 per 1,000 people

#21 Portugal: 34.3833 per 1,000 people

#22 Slovenia: 33.6236 per 1,000 people

#23 Poland: 32.8573 per 1,000 people

#24 Korea, South: 31.7267 per 1,000 people

#25 Mauritius: 29.1982 per 1,000 people

#26 Zimbabwe: 28.8753 per 1,000 people

#27 Lithuania: 22.8996 per 1,000 people

#28 Spain: 22.8867 per 1,000 people

#29 Latvia: 21.921 per 1,000 people

#30 Uruguay: 21.7017 per 1,000 people

#31 Russia: 20.5855 per 1,000 people

#32 Ireland: 20.2376 per 1,000 people

#33 Bulgaria: 19.9886 per 1,000 people

#34 Japan: 19.177 per 1,000 people

#35 Romania: 16.4812 per 1,000 people

#36 Slovakia: 16.3537 per 1,000 people

#37 Jamaica: 14.3231 per 1,000 people

#38 Belarus: 13.1592 per 1,000 people

#39 Mexico: 12.8406 per 1,000 people

#40 Tunisia: 12.5634 per 1,000 people

#41 Costa Rica: 11.9788 per 1,000 people

#42 Ukraine: 11.7793 per 1,000 people

#43 Hong Kong: 11.6817 per 1,000 people

#44 Macedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic of: 9.689 per 1,000 people

#45 Greece: 9.6347 per 1,000 people

#46 Venezuela: 9.307 per 1,000 people

#47 Thailand: 8.80422 per 1,000 people

#48 Moldova: 8.58967 per 1,000 people

#49 Kyrgyzstan: 7.50486 per 1,000 people

#50 Malaysia: 6.97921 per 1,000 people

#51 Qatar: 6.76437 per 1,000 people

#52 Zambia: 5.27668 per 1,000 people

#53 Colombia: 4.98654 per 1,000 people

#54 Turkey: 4.11252 per 1,000 people

#55 Armenia: 4.03889 per 1,000 people

#56 Georgia: 3.21338 per 1,000 people

#57 Papua New Guinea: 2.39711 per 1,000 people

#58 Azerbaijan: 1.76416 per 1,000 people

#59 India: 1.63352 per 1,000 people

#60 Yemen: 1.16109 per 1,000 people

Weighted average: 33.7 per 1,000 people

Now have a look at some of the rape statistics per capita -

South Africa ,Australia and the USA top the list with the rape per capita and while Yemen , Azerbaijan and Saudi Arabia are the lowest with the rankings of 63,64 and 65 respectively.India is 56th on this list. China does not show up in this list as well.


Rank Countries Amount (top to bottom)
#1 South Africa: 1.19538 per 1,000 people
#2 Seychelles: 0.788294 per 1,000 people
#3 Australia: 0.777999 per 1,000 people
#4 Montserrat: 0.749384 per 1,000 people
#5 Canada: 0.733089 per 1,000 people
#6 Jamaica: 0.476608 per 1,000 people
#7 Zimbabwe: 0.457775 per 1,000 people
#8 Dominica: 0.34768 per 1,000 people
#9 United States: 0.301318 per 1,000 people
#10 Iceland: 0.246009 per 1,000 people
#11 Papua New Guinea: 0.233544 per 1,000 people
#12 New Zealand: 0.213383 per 1,000 people
#13 United Kingdom: 0.142172 per 1,000 people
#14 Spain: 0.140403 per 1,000 people
#15 France: 0.139442 per 1,000 people
#16 Korea, South: 0.12621 per 1,000 people
#17 Mexico: 0.122981 per 1,000 people
#18 Norway: 0.120836 per 1,000 people
#19 Costa Rica: 0.118277 per 1,000 people
#20 Venezuela: 0.115507 per 1,000 people
#21 Finland: 0.110856 per 1,000 people
#22 Netherlands: 0.100445 per 1,000 people
#23 Denmark: 0.0914948 per 1,000 people
#24 Germany: 0.0909731 per 1,000 people
#25 Bulgaria: 0.0795973 per 1,000 people
#26 Chile: 0.0782179 per 1,000 people
#27 Thailand: 0.0626305 per 1,000 people
#28 Kyrgyzstan: 0.0623785 per 1,000 people
#29 Poland: 0.062218 per 1,000 people
#30 Sri Lanka: 0.0599053 per 1,000 people
#31 Hungary: 0.0588588 per 1,000 people
#32 Estonia: 0.0547637 per 1,000 people
#33 Ireland: 0.0542829 per 1,000 people
#34 Switzerland: 0.0539458 per 1,000 people
#35 Belarus: 0.0514563 per 1,000 people
#36 Uruguay: 0.0512295 per 1,000 people
#37 Lithuania: 0.0508757 per 1,000 people
#38 Malaysia: 0.0505156 per 1,000 people
#39 Romania: 0.0497089 per 1,000 people
#40 Czech Republic: 0.0488234 per 1,000 people
#41 Russia: 0.0486543 per 1,000 people
#42 Latvia: 0.0454148 per 1,000 people
#43 Moldova: 0.0448934 per 1,000 people
#44 Colombia: 0.0433254 per 1,000 people
#45 Slovenia: 0.0427648 per 1,000 people
#46 Italy: 0.0402045 per 1,000 people
#47 Portugal: 0.0364376 per 1,000 people
#48 Tunisia: 0.0331514 per 1,000 people
#49 Zambia: 0.0266383 per 1,000 people
#50 Ukraine: 0.0244909 per 1,000 people
#51 Slovakia: 0.0237525 per 1,000 people
#52 Mauritius: 0.0219334 per 1,000 people
#53 Turkey: 0.0180876 per 1,000 people
#54 Japan: 0.017737 per 1,000 people
#55 Hong Kong: 0.0150746 per 1,000 people
#56 India: 0.0143187 per 1,000 people
#57 Qatar: 0.0139042 per 1,000 people
#58 Macedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic of: 0.0132029 per 1,000 people
#59 Greece: 0.0106862 per 1,000 people
#60 Georgia: 0.0100492 per 1,000 people
#61 Armenia: 0.00938652 per 1,000 people
#62 Indonesia: 0.00567003 per 1,000 people
#63 Yemen: 0.0038597 per 1,000 people
#64 Azerbaijan: 0.00379171 per 1,000 people
#65 Saudi Arabia: 0.00329321 per 1,000 people

Yemen, Azerbaijan and Saudi Arabia are all Islamic nations. Most of the Islamic nations are lower down in the list for crime per capita or rapes per capita.

Does the Islamic rule prevent crimes or does it prevent reporting of crimes ?

All statistical data has been obtained from Visit them for similar statistics.