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EDA was established in 1983 as a social enterprise, one of the first of its kind, dedicated to practical research, training, capacity building, professional management and implementation services for development.
To begin with, registered as a partnership firm, Economic Development Associates and working from Lucknow, the team engaged across the span of development sectors: economic sectors with opportunities for rural employment (in for example textiles – cotton spinning and weaving, silk production, wool spinning – mini cement, dairying, leather work and various rural based micro-enterprises), watershed and community forestry, as well as the social sectors of health and education.
In the 1990s, and by now shifted to Gurgaon, the hub of the newly developing National Capital Region outside Delhi, EDA developed a consultancy focus on livelihoods and enterprise support, and expanded into the emerging field of microfinance, registering as a Pvt Ltd Company in 1997.
Based on its management support to NGO programmes, EDA developed a methodology for rating of microfinance, and in 1998 established Micro-Credit Ratings International Ltd (M-CRIL) as a specialist rating agency for microfinance, one of the first of its kind globally.
Since the 1990s, EDA has engaged in training for microfinance, research and direct livelihood promotion. Livelihood promotion is undertaken by EDA Rural Arth Vikas, established as a Section 25 Company in 2006, with teams based in Bihar, eastern UP and Gujarat. EDA is a pioneering organisation in the field of livelihoods and microenterprise promotion. It has undertaken research and support activities in a series of microenterprise sub-sectors and business development services during its 26 years of activity. A major component of EDA’s work in this field has been sub-sector/value chain analysis leading to substantive improvements in the design of promotion programmes and the identification of policy issues for advocacy and follow up.
The experience in research – market research and impact assessment – training and rating lies behind EDA’s prominent role in initiatives to develop social performance approaches and tools for microfinance, including social rating (with M-CRIL), social performance management (as a core member of the Imp-Act consortium) and social reporting (contributing to the MIX as a member of the Social Performance Task Force, and also to Sa-Dhan, the network of community based MFIs in India).
With a natural geographical focus on India and all countries of S Asia, EDA has also worked extensively in countries of SE Asia, Central Asia and Africa.