HDFC Bank has achieved the milestone of disbursing loans to 20 lakh borrowers under the ‘Sustainable Livelihood Initiative’ or SLI, the bank’s flagship financial inclusion programme.
The 20th lakh customer was Sajna Devi, widowed and mother of three in Chomu, Rajasthan who received her cheque from Aditya Puri, managing director, HDFC Bank.
With a board-approved plan to disburse loans to 1 crore families and that too only to women under this initiative, HDFC Bank has already disbursed over Rs 2,500 crore though its 3,400 employees directly employed with the bank.
Under the SLI programme, the bank has adopted a holistic approach of identifying weaker families in unbanked or underbanked locations in the country, providing loans to the women in the family, giving them training for the work, helping them earn and repay loan and also provide them with a bank account.
The bank has reached 7,900 villages across 24 states and plans to reach all the states in the coming months.
“Bharat and India must converge and Bharat should not be left behind,” said Puri. “We also want to substitute money lenders, unorganised finance and we want to create livelihood.”
While such loans are disbursed at interest rates between 20 and 26 per cent, the bank said that its costs are high as it provides training and is reaching out to villages in remote locations.
Puri said that the business has not only to be sustainable for the customer but also for the bank and said that there has been no concern on non-repayment. “The interest rate includes the cost of training, cost of providing market linkage and if you deduct that cost it will come down to 14-15 per cent,” said Puri.
Manohara Raj, executive VP and business head, SLI said, “We believe that simply disbursing credit to these individuals will not help bring them out of poverty. Through SLI, the bank scripts the change in a rural household – from imparting new skills to a participant to ensuring sustainable income — thus making a difference to their lives.”
(The correspondent was in Chomu at the invitation of HDFC Bank.)