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Vikram Akula, the founder of India's largest microfinance institution SKS Microfinance, has decided to step down from the position of Chief Executive Officer (CEO). He will continue to be the full-time director on board of SKS but will not be active in the day to day operations of the firm. Suresh Gurumani, who was head of retail banking for Barclays Bank in India, will be the new CEO of SKS Microfinance. Gurumani will join SKS Microfinance from December 1.

The decision has been taken by Akula so that he can concentrate more on strategy and focus on other operations of SKS, a company spokesperson told VCCircle. Since SKS has scaled up, someone else was needed to look after the daily operations of the firm.

It has also been reported Akula has divested around 10% of his stake, part of it to Kismet Capital, a US-based fund run by Ashish Lakhanpal. He now holds less than 5% stake. But SKS has denied any such development.

A Hyderabad native, Akula founded SKS Microfinance in in 1998 and has built it as one of the fastest growing MFIs in the world. SKS recently raised $76 million in fourth round led by Sandstone Capital, the highest amount ever raised by a MFI from private equity. It has previously raised Rs 208 crore from investors like Sequoia Capital India and Vinod Khosla.

Akula has done MA from Yale and Ph.D., which focused on impact of microfinance, from University of Chicago. He was earlier with McKinsey in the US. Akula was nominated as as one of TIME magazine's 100 most influential people in 2006.

Since its launch in 1998, SKS has reached 1,400 branches with 12,000 employees, and is present in 18 states and half the districts of the country. It has around 3.3 million clients, which it plans to expand to 8 million by March 2011.

SKS has a tie-up with Bharti Airtel and Nokia to provide mobile phones to it's members and with Bajaj Allianz Life Insurance.

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