Around the globe, poverty has held too many people in its grip for too long. While microfinance - small loans to impoverished individuals - initially attracted attention in the press, it didn't achieve the scale, scope, and profitability necessary to substantially combat poverty. All that changed with Vikram Akula's creation of SKS Microfinance. In this highly personal narrative, A Fistful of Rice, Akula reveals how he pieced together the best of both philanthropy and (to his surprise) capitalism to help millions of India's poor transition from paupers to customers to business owners. As thoughtful as Barack Obama's personal journey in Dreams from My Father, as harrowing as Paul Farmer's battle against infectious disease in Mountains Beyond Mountains, and as gripping as Greg Mortensen's fight for education in Three Cups of Tea, Akula's story shows how traditional business principles can be brought to bear on global problems in new ways. A Fistful of Rice offers not only inspiration but also lessons for anyone seeking to transform tenacity, creativity, and innovation into potent tools for fighting even the most seemingly intractable human burdens.
Vikram Akula is the Founder and Chair of SKS Microfinance, one of the leading microfinance institutions in the world. He is also a sought-after public speaker and in 2006, Time magazine named him one of the world's 100 most influential people. Akula launched SKS in 1998 because he saw a fundamental flaw in existing microfinance institutions: their inability to scale to large numbers. A former management consultant with McKinsey & Company, Akula holds a B.A. from Tufts, an M.A. from Yale and a Ph.D. from the University of Chicago and he was a Fulbright Scholar. He has received several awards, including the World Economic Young Global Leader (2008), 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 front page of the Wall Street Journal.