Saturday, August 21, 2010

Financial inclusion: IIM Indore brings banking to poor

With nearly 60% of the country's population unbanked and the government pledging to bring banking to the lowest stratum of society, the Indian Institute of Management, Indore (IIM-I) has decided to do its bit on financial inclusion. For its annual management summit Ahvan, the institute has decided to unveil a programme called Samanvay, where IIM-I students will help underprivileged people in and around the campus open bank accounts and get insurance cover. "There's a clear need for financial services as about 90% of the population here is unbanked", said Ravi Chandran, Director, IIM-I. The project will commence from September with the unveiling of the annual summit. The institute has involved its faculty to oversee the project. It believes that such initiatives will make students socially sensitive.

IIM-I is in talks with Bank of Baroda, State Bank of India, Union Bank of India and Canara Bank for opening accounts. The accounts will have zero or a minimum balance requirement for those who dont have access to banking, said Amitava Bandyopadhyay, the programme's convener and a second-year student at IIMI. Given the work profile and lifestyle of the people, the institute has also decided to help them get insured, like personal accident policy for construction workers and health insurance for housewives. "National Insurance Company has shown interest, and it has insurance products that suit our target group", says Amitava.

"Seven hundred students from both the batches will contribute at least 100 towards the insurance premium and logistical expenditure of about Rs. 10,000. We will pay the premium for the first year only. The idea is to create awareness and let people experience the benefits of risk management", said Biswadip Paul, a second year student. The students will organise a series of workshops on risk management with the beneficiaries to make the programme sustainable.

It was found that lack of information and documentation (like address proof), and not poverty, was the main reason for not having a bank account. So, the IIM-I students are trying to organise employment certificates or domicile documents from the sarpanch to be used in lieu of address proof. Each student contributor will be mapped one-to-one with the beneficiary. "It will give a sense of ownership in the initiative and encourage participants to take up more such causes in future", said Amitava.

Through Samanvay, the institute hopes to reach out to about 150-200 people who work inside the campus as daily-wage labourers or security guards. But the main aim is to take the project outside the IIM-I campus to nearby villages. "We are going to nearby villages like Janpavkuti, Bharpuwa, Bhagpura and Ambara with an approximate total population of 2,500", adds Biswadip.

Source: The Economic Times, August 20, 2010

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