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Ramesh Srivatsava Arunachalam
Economic Development, Financial Inclusion, SME Development, Technology, Private Sector, Governance, Climate Finance, Agriculture & Agriculture Finance & Investment Banking Professional
Chennai, India
Ramesh has 35 years experience in financial inclusion, SME Development & Finance, Transformative technologies (including Core Banking Systems, Digitization & Artificial intelligence), Agriculture & warehouse receipt finance, climate finance, investment banking, research methods, qualitative/quantitative analysis, impact/baseline measurement & project monitoring/evaluation. Worked in 32 countries.
Send email Contact Ramesh Srivatsava Arunachalam
Area of Expertise:
  • Agriculture, Livelihoods, Microfinance, Rural
  • Infrastructure, Technology, Engineering, Science
  • Monitoring, Evaluation, Policy, Research, Analysis
  • Private Sector, Social Enterprise, Corporate Social Responsibility
  • Trade, Finance, Economics, Cooperation, Global
Professional Experience:
Ramesh’s career, spanning over 35 years, is distinguished by the completion of 355 professional assignments across 32 countries in Asia, Africa, Latin America, Europe, North America, and the Caribbean. He has also worked in 710 districts of India.

His clients have included: The World Bank, The Asian Development Bank, the International Finance Corporation, the Department for International Development, the International Fund for Agriculture Development, SIDBI, NABARD, ACCESS Development Services, ICICI Bank, the Food and Agriculture Organization, the United Nations Development Program, UNTRS, Japan Bank for International Cooperation, GTZ/BMZ, Rabo Bank International, NCRPB, Ministries of Finance, Rural Development, MSME and Agriculture Governments in Several Countries and States Globally, The Commonwealth Secretariat, A whole variety of Regulators and Supervisors, and so on.

His vast expertise covers several areas, including:

Financial Inclusion, MSME Finance and Technology Integration: He has effectively merged technology and artificial intelligence with financial services, enhancing access, usage and quality in financial inclusion service delivery for low-income people and MSMEs.

Microfinance and MSME Finance: Significant contributions to the development of microfinance and MSME finance, empowering small and medium enterprises and also informal sector nano enterprises. He has a strong exposure to women micro-entrepreneurs across JLGs and SHGs and has personally seen over 100,000 SHGs in his career.

Agriculture and Climate Finance: Initiatives in agriculture and climate finance that address critical environmental and economic challenges, especially for low-income and smaller producers. He has practised agriculture for over 30 years and is well-versed in cultivation practices for a wide variety of crops across the globe.

Risk Mitigation Services and Insurance: Designing risk mitigation and insurance solutions for low-income people and MSMEs.

Pensions and Infrastructure Finance: Expertise in pension schemes and infrastructure finance, showcasing his broad understanding of financial instruments, especially for low-income people and MSMEs.

Investment Banking and Strategic Governance: His work has provided critical direction to multinational corporations, financial institutions, and policy-making bodies in investment banking and strategic governance.

Corporate Strategies, Regulation, and Supervision: Known for his skill in crafting corporate strategies and regulatory frameworks, particularly in emerging financial technologies. He is particularly skilled at developing organizational-level AI strategies for deployment and use at various levels of analysis for risk management, governance, internal audits and operations at large and small FIs/Banks.

Research, Publications and Thought Leadership

Arunachalam is an accomplished author of eighteen critically acclaimed bestselling books in finance and governance. His regular contributions as a columnist for prestigious publications reflect his status as a thought leader in the field. He also writes a daily newsletter on Linked IN, which has a significant readership. Arunachalam's Ascension Newsletter on Linked IN stands out as a source of cutting-edge knowledge in his areas of specialisation. It provides insightful analyses and updates on the latest trends and developments in the financial sector

Policy Influence and Advisory Impact

His policy-making contributions and regulatory designs, especially in financial inclusion, technology, and MSMEs, have been pivotal. Arunachalam's advisory services to diverse clients, including multilateral organisations, private sector firms, government agencies, banks, NBFIs, cooperatives, Farmer's Producer Organizations, regulators & supervisors and other stakeholders, have had a far-reaching impact on the financial inclusion and MSME landscape.

Capacity Building - Trained over 200,000 professionals

He has a Bachelor’s Degree in Industrial Engineering from the National Institute of Technology (NIT), Trichy, India (1984/5) and an MBA (with Dual Concentration, Strategy and Marketing) from the Curtis L. Carlson School of Management, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, USA, (1988).

Academic Honours - Received merit scholarships for superior and consistent academic performance

Key Skills

a) Research and Analytical Skills

30 years of extensive experience in mixed-method research, focusing on financial inclusion and MSMEs.

Skilled in data analysis, interpretation, and synthesising findings into actionable insights with a special focus on impact, baseline and monitoring/evaluation studies. He has conducted 30 impact studies in his career, apart from 25 baseline studies and 100 monitoring/evaluation reports.
Familiarity with cross-country analysis and identifying global trends.

b) Financial Inclusion and MSME Finance Expertise

35 years of deep understanding of MSE and MSME finance in emerging markets.
Hands-on experience in developing financial products/services tailored for micro, small and enterprises.

Knowledge of gender-based finance challenges and solutions in the context of MSEs and MSMEs.

c) Report Writing and Synthesis

35 years of strong background in drafting comprehensive reports, policy briefs, and research papers for a variety of international and national stakeholders

Ability to translate complex research findings into clear, concise, and practical recommendations.

d) Development of Practical Toolkits

30 years of experience in creating toolkits and guidelines that aid in the implementation of financial strategies.

Proven ability to transform research outcomes into practical, user-friendly resources.

e) Coordination and Communication Skills
35 years of excellent coordination skills demonstrated through successful multi-stakeholder project executions.

Strong verbal and written communication abilities, adept at engaging with diverse teams and partners.

f) Gender-focused Financial Expertise
30 years of specialised experience in integrating gender perspectives into financial inclusion strategies.

Leadership in initiatives focused on enhancing women's access to financial services in MSE and MSME sectors.

g) Project Management Proficiency

Over 30 years of experience in managing complex, multi-dimensional projects in financial inclusion, MSME development, credit rating, capacity building and so on in areas of specialisation.

Proven track record in leading diverse teams and ensuring project milestones and deadlines are met.

Expertise in Agile project management methodologies.

Was part of the founding team of many initiatives like MISFA, M-CRIL, and so on.
Affiliations and Achievements:
Recent Notable Projects

In 2023, Arunachalam edited the prestigious Inclusive Finance India Report 2023, ACCESS Development Services, where he also authored 4 chapters (including one on MSME Finance, one on AI and Financial Inclusion, one on the measurement of Financial Inclusion and one on Inclusive Insurance and Pensions) apart from writing the overview and preface chapter.

His ongoing four investment banking advisory proposals (2022-2024), due for completion in 2024, will bring in significant Investment into MSMEs in India (various segments).

Ramesh also prepared a detailed Grant Fund Management Manual for the IAVCP, aiding MSMEs in agroecological value chains. This is an IFAD/GTZ/BMZ project being implemented by ACCESS Development Services.

Apart from contributing to the Coffee Table Book for the Global Inclusive Finance Summit (2023), Ramesh also put together and edited the entire book with articles written by 49 other global experts in inclusive finance.

Select Research Projects

I have been involved in a wide range of baseline studies, impact assessments, and monitoring and evaluation projects within my fields of expertise, which include agriculture, natural resource management, livelihoods, fisheries, MSME development, inclusive finance, and others. Selective projects are:

1. IFAD (1995/96): Conducted baseline and impact assessments in two countries, including two states in India with focus on poverty, finance and gender
2. World Bank/Ministry of Agriculture, Government of India (1998): Undertook a baseline and impact study for the World Bank Inland Fisheries Project.
3. SIDBI (1997/98 and 1999-2005): Engaged in project monitoring, appraisal, evaluation and impact assessment for the SIDBI/DFID/IFAD National Microfinance Project.
4. SIDBI/Swiss Development Corporation (1998): Participated in the Rural Industries Promotion Programme of SIDBI and its impact assessment.
5. CARE/CASHE DFID Project (1999/early 2000): Multiple assignments in three project states.
6. IFC (2007): A baseline and impact study focusing on financial inclusion was conducted in the Philippines.
7. World Bank/MISFA Project (2003): Carried out baseline and impact assessments in Afghanistan.
8. ADB (2008-9): Performed a baseline study for NCRPB regarding socio-economic status to provide benchmarks for the end-line impact evaluation as part of the MIS amongst other aspects
9. FAO/UNTRS: Executed a baseline study and impact study on fisheries post-tsunami at different timelines (2007-8)
10. Commonwealth Secretariat: Conducted baseline studies in Malawi (2008), St Lucia (2009), and Uganda (2001), among several others, for endline project impact assessment among low-income entrepreneurs.
11. PRADHAN/ICCO: Led the evaluation and project impact assessment of PRADHAN’s TASAR farmers program (1997/98) on behalf of ICCO, Netherlands and Ford Foundation
12. Ford Foundation/SPARC: Led the impact assessment of SPARC network’s women SHG programs for and on behalf of Ford Foundation (1997/98)
13. SIDBI/SIFFS (2001/2003): Led the SIDBI impact assessment of SIFF’s fishermen’s network and SIFFS women SHG programs for and on behalf of SIDBI
14. CORDAID/ASP: Led the CORDAID yearly impact assessment of hundreds of poorest Dalit ASP clients for several years starting 2003 till 2007
15. DFID FDCF: Monitoring, Evaluation and Impact assessment of the DFID Financial Deepening Challenge Fund and its low-income clients for several years from 2004–2007

Ramesh’s comprehensive career, marked by a multitude of professional assignments, publications, and contributions to policy and advisory roles, positions him uniquely in the international economic development, agriculture, climate change, MSME and financial sectors. His innovative, strategic thinking and commitment to sustainable development continue to shape the financial, agriculture, climate change, MSME & economic development landscapes globally.

Available for:
  • Consulting assignments
  • Job opportunities
  • Being headhunted – make me an offer

    Years of Experience:
    More than 20 years
    Highest Qualification:
    English, Hindi, Tamil, Urdu,
    LinkedIn Profile:
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