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‘For those shunned by all other banks, Bandhan’s doors always open’

 Shayani Mukherjee |  2016-08-12 00:43:10.0  |  New Delhi

‘For those shunned by all other banks, Bandhan’s doors always open’

In a bid to alleviate poverty and get a larger portion of the audience to have financial access, Ghosh started with Bandhan, which is now spread across the country. 

Starting his journey with Bandhan as a micro-financial service institution in 2001 and then securing a bank licence from RBI last year, Ghosh has come a long way, especially in empowering women. Extremely perturbed by the ways of traditional money lenders and plight of the poor, Ghosh decided to provide a platform which would put an end to their exploitation. 

With over 8.9 million customers and 700 branches, Kolkata-headquartered Bandhan is the first bank to be set up in the eastern part of India after Independence. In addition, it is also one of the first microfinance institutions to receive a licence in the country.

Growing up in Agartala, he worked in his father’s sweet shop until he joined BRAC. Having worked there for more than a decade, Ghosh came to Calcutta with a promise to change, create awareness and generate employment among the masses. Driven by the drive to do something on his own, he advises the young generation to use its creativity in starting new enterprises and strongly reiterates that women are the real embodiment of a bright future. Here he discusses Bandhan Bank’s operations across 29 states and UTs through 3,082 touch points:- 

How is Bandhan different from other finance institutions in India?
Presently, we only have the microfinance credit growth system through which we aim to reach areas which remain inaccessible by existing banking systems and we are happy that this team has been successful in reaching those corners. We are helping to expand their businesses and many have been able to graduate to the next level which is called the micro small and medium enterprises. 

It is very important for people to develop saving habits which would not only liberate them from financial constraints but also build their capital and help them start something on their own. This way it also increases the deposits of the country.

Bandhan has also started lending to other microcredit organisations, which is prompting us to reach a larger portion of people within a short span of time. Our main focus continues to remain meeting the financial needs of people who can’t reach out to normal banks and create an environment which would be able to foster better health care, education and generate large-scale employment. 

What kind of competition do you face from other banks? 
 As of now, there isn’t much competition that we have to face because it has only been a year. The kind of response and support we are receiving is overwhelming. It has helped us to progress in leaps and bounds. But I like competition because it helps in building employee capacity and should be treated as a learning process. Without facing competition, an organisation fails to grow.  

What is your opinion on the West Bengal government?
The state government has been extremely efficient in bringing quick transformation. It has been able to achieve unprecedented growth over the last few years. Kolkata is a changed city now and infrastructural developments are noteworthy. Considering Bengal and not specifically Kolkata, developments have been remarkable. Rural areas which were in dire need of developments — infrastructural as well as societal — are finally experiencing these remarkable changes in reality. 
This has in a way encouraged people to strive towards success and a better life. We started our operations in Bengal; so I’m very grateful to our Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who has been highly encouraging and supporting.  She also inaugurated 21  of our branches. Her management skills are exceptional and it is something worth learning. 

I have attended several foreign as well as national meetings with her. The government has worked hard in making Bengal what it is today and the environment is great for people to start a new enterprise. 

Altogether, it has been a commendable journey!
            
How do you wish to expand your business? Future plans...
As a microfinance institution, we worked in 22 states. We have extended it to 29 states together as a bank and a microfinance institution. We would like to continue our micro credit level service to people in need. As of now, our focus is on the eastern region, especially the north-eastern part of India. 

We are expanding it as much as possible and have the vision to make a pan-Indian presence. Our main goal is to open up avenues for people that are necessary for financial growth and employment. 

Message for the young generation…
I believe in passion, hard work, and dedication. It helps you achieve your goals. One should be passionate about one’s work, which should be followed by hard work and dedication. Anyone can be successful in life if these three qualities are present. People should grab opportunities that come their way and make most of them. Another important attitude is to face challenges instead of quitting. 
 I would suggest that people should always look for something to start on their own by putting their creativity to proper use. The younger generation should definitely start enterprises with new and innovative ideas, which would, in turn, generate employment and help in economic growth at large.

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