At a time when bigger financial services players are para-trooping into unbanked geographies to give loans, the four-and-a-half-decade-old Shree Mahila Sewa Sahakari Bank is expanding its portfolio to change the lives of poor illiterate women. “More than credit, the poor people need savings, insurance, pension, housing and financial literacy,” says Jayshree Vyas, Managing Director of the Gujarat-based urban cooperative bank.
Vyas should know, having spent more than three decades nurturing the institution that is focussed on the bottom of the pyramid and building a deposit book of Rs 300 crore and a credit portfolio of Rs 200 crore. The banks client portfolio is spread out among 1.5 lakh borrowers and 6 lakh depositors. Vyas, a chartered accountant, is proud of the fact that the bank has now graduated to ‘virtual training’ and ‘digital financial literacy’.’
“We have digitised all our modules. We taught them via mobile. We have trained over 5,000 women. Now we can reach out to more women,” says Vyas.
When the lockdown hit customers, the bank offered moratorium on loans, extra credit and drawing on deposits.
The bank’s source of funds is largely savings and fixed deposits. “Our lending is very short term… The cash flow is very high,” says Vyas.