First All Women Commercial Bank in Chennai
An ensemble of uniformly dressed eight women employees in a yellow silk saree marked the grand inauguration of Bhartiya Mahila Bank (BMB) in Chennai on Tuesday. Chennai was one of the privileged seven cities to get an exclusive branch of the country’s first all women commercial bank.
The brainchild of Union finance minister P. Chidambaram, launched with a corpus of Rs 1,000 crore, hopes to empower women by primarily taking care of their special needs and requirement.
“Though the bank is also open for male customers, there will be a ‘positive skew’ towards women when it comes to loan disbursals,” said Nijasundari, branch manager of BMB. There will be special focus on customized loan products for the setting up daycare centre and catering business, she added.
BMB also hopes to offer products giving a slight concession on loan rates to women. “Women are an underutilized economic asset across the globe,” said Snehalata Shrivastava, additional finance secretary, who inaugurated the Chennai branch.
Of the one billion women who get into employment every year globally, India accounts for 5.5 million women getting into the workforce, she added.
Bank account penetration of women is a mere 26 per cent in India compared to 44 per cent in the case of men, Shrivastava said. Also the number of loan accounts for women is 82 per cent lower compared to men mainly because of collateral, limited financial skill, gender bias, illiteracy and lack of awareness, she said.
“It is this issue that we hope to address through BMB which will also tie-up with self-help groups to offer relevant training to loan applicants,” said Nalini Sriraman, deputy branch manager of the bank.
“Traditionally, south India has led the way in microfinance and activities among women’s units and this will be a great initiative in fostering entrepreneurship,” said IOB CMD Dr M. Narendra. “I see this bank providing focus and support to women in all aspects,” commended Indian Bank CMD T.M. Bhasin.
Location : ground floor of the Overseas Towers, in a lane opposite the old TVS bus stop ( off the Arterial Anna Salai)