Mumbai: ICICI Bank Ltd announced that it has crossed a milestone of supporting 15 lakh women beneficiaries through the ‘Self Help Group-Bank Linkage Programme’ (SBLP) which aims at empowering less privileged women in the state to become self-reliant.
The programme focuses on delivering financial products & services to the section of rural people who lack access to formal banking. As part of the programme, the Bank has extended loans of over Rs 1,750 crore to more than 1.23 lakh SHGs since its inception in 2011, making it the largest private sector lender to SHGs in the state.
Speaking on the occasion, Avijit Saha, Senior General Manager & Head, Rural & Inclusive Banking Group, ICICI Bank, said, “We at ICICI Bank believe that women are the backbone of every household. In Maharashtra, women residing in rural & semi-urban locations have showcased an inspirational entrepreneurial spirit. This reaffirms our belief that access to financial assistance from the Bank will aid them in actively participating in the economic development of the country and achieving financial security.”
“We focus on SHGs whose members are engaged in livelihood generating activities – be it on the farm or off the farm – and thereby provide financial assistance in scaling up their economic enterprises. I am delighted to share that the Bank, through its work with SHGs, has touched the families of over 15 lakh women beneficiaries and has disbursed loans of over Rs 1,750 crore till date in the state,” he further added.
Adding further he said, “The Bank is a pioneer in introducing doorstep banking to SHGs, wherein our officials reach out to customers at their doorstep, instead of the customer approaching the bank’s branches. This reduces the transaction cost for the customer, as she does not have to incur any cost in traveling to the nearest branch of the Bank. By the end of FY’20, the Bank intends to expand its reach to over 20 lakh women beneficiaries in the state with cumulative loan disbursements worth more than Rs 2,300 crore.”
As recognition of the Bank’s achievement, it has been awarded the first prize among ‘Private Sector Commercial Banks’ by Maharashtra State Rural Livelihood Mission, an initiative by the Government of Maharashtra to enhance the social and economic empowerment of the rural poor in the state through the development of self-sustained and community managed institutions.
Self Help Group (SHG) is a term used for a group of 10-20 less privileged women, primarily from rural and semi-urban areas, who pool their resources on a periodic basis and use this money for income generating activities like agriculture and allied activities, production of incense sticks, sarees and textile weaving, production of food materials like papad, toy and flower shops at temples, trading artificial jewellery, tailoring, trading in fruits and vegetables among others.
The Bank provides doorstep banking services for SHGs through its dedicated manpower, thereby eliminating the need to visit the branch along with all its members. The Bank representatives submit the loan applications and the details of the SHG to the Bank from the field digitally using a tablet, in a paperless manner, which reduces the turn-around time significantly. This also reduces the transaction cost for the customers’ as they do not need to travel to the Bank’s branch to avail services.
The Bank lends to SHGs across all the 35 districts of Maharashtra. The Bank services its customers through a robust retail network of over 710 branches and more than 2800 ATMs across the state.