Laxmibai Mahila Bank: Empowering & Advancing Women

Reported by: |Updated: January 31, 2020

Laxmibai Mahila Nagrik Sahakari Bank was registered as a primary co-operative society in 1997 and it commenced its operations in 1978. The bank, popularly known as Laxmi Bank, became the first co-operative bank in 1998 to be accorded the scheduled status by Reserve Bank of India in the entire central India.

Branch Targets

Laxmibai Bank has total 2 branches, one at Gwalior district and another at Dabra in Madhya Pradesh. The total employee strength of the bank is 25, who are mostly in banking operations.

For improvement of branch performance, each branch is given targets. In the last FY also, targets were given and measured. Their target vis-à-vis performance was reviewed at quarterly intervals. Alka Shrivastava, chairperson, says: “Necessary guidance and support was provided for improving the performance. Besides this, each individual employee was also given business targets and incentives were paid to top performers. Necessary training is given to all employees on continuous basis on the products and services of the bank for giving better service to the customers. From clerk to manager and even security guard of the bank, all are only women.”

Empowering Women SHGs

Laxmibai Mahila Bank had started with small base of 1500 members. The chairperson of the bank herself has been taking keen interest in providing affordable banking to women, especially the downtrodden section of the society and financially assisting them by providing banking facilities. She has been instrumental in empowering women in SHGs by providing loans and encouraging them to be independent. Alka Shrivastava claims: “Among other things, we have implemented competent strategies with a view to penetrate new accounts and expand existing ones by providing a wide range of services, thus creating an entire model through which banking has become a lot simpler, more accessible for even the marginalized women. Total number of customers of our bank as of 2018-19 is 26,546 and we are expanding the base.”

Laxmibai Bank has been conducting seminars and training programs at various school and colleges in order to provide youth diverse array of financial options such as – savings programs which are generally linked to a diverse array of financial education efforts, including personal financial management, banking operations, or both. Alka Shrivastava explains: “These savings accounts generally have very low minimum balance requirements and low or no monthly maintenance fees. The account terms and conditions are also explained in an age-friendly manner. We not only provide accounts but also offer hands-on learning as well – helping students to open a real savings account and manage their own money. This strategy can be a very effective way to teach skills, increase knowledge, and encourage an attitude toward saving that can serve a child well into adulthood. I, along with all-women Board of Management, firmly believe that focused attention to the banking for women will bring changes in the society and will eventually bring prosperity to the nation.”

Major Projects Supported

Laxmibai Bank has been extending support to many projects run by women and undertaken for women, such as the Veerangana Express cab service managed by a group of ladies that runs within municipal limits in Gwalior. This program has been funded by Laxmibai Bank. Alka Shrivastava proudly underlines: “Women empowerment has been our organization’s sole focus and through Veerangana Express we will come closer to our vision of seeing more self-independent women in our society. We appreciate the support from government authorities and Tata Motors for this initiative. We hope that the Veerangana pink cabs will further encourage women, without having to worry about their commuting woes. These vehicles are also equipped with GPS (vehicle tracking system) feature which makes commuting safer for women in comparison to other vehicles that fall under the auto-rickshaw category.”

The bank along with dealers of e-rickshaw undertook an initiative to provide e-rickshaw to poor working women. Alka Shrivastava adds: “These women want to increase their income, and by providing them a loan of Rs1 lakh with minimum rate of interest, our bank is helping them in getting the licenses.”

Serving Small Business

Laxmibai Mahila Bank had started with small capital base of Rs1.6 million. The bank over the years has been able to register growth in banking steadily and continuously. Small business customers generally prefer to do their banking at branch locations. Alka Shrivastava observes: “These small, walk-in business customers are typically not large enough and also not technologically savvy to go to big banks. Besides, only few of small business customers borrow from the bank as they tend to use personal funds or other sources of income. As such, they are under-serviced and our bank provides them with a personal banker helping them to use bank as and when required. The total amount of deposits mobilized by our bank is Rs656.70 mn and loans given are to the tune of Rs193.77 mn in 2018-19.”

IT Oriented Banking

Laxmibai Bank has made CBS operational in April 2014 with ATM debit cards and internet shopping facilities back then. This has made the bank come out of the generation gap and provide traditional customers with new age banking facilities. Alka Shrivastava says: “Our major IT vendors include CBS vendor Jalgaon Janata Info Tech (JJIT), Pune, Sarvatra Technologies for ATMs as well as printing of cards and Globus Infotech.”

With Laxmibai Mahila Bank’s new initiatives, local Indian women have started using new banking techniques. Alka Shrivastava says: “With the help of our bank, more and more women are now involved in day to day transactions and with the latest banking facilities, these Indian women feel more empowered.”

Zero NPA

Since inception from 1997 Laxmibai Mahila Nagrik Bank has been zero-NPA bank and continues to be 0% even though these recent years have been challenging ones for the banking industry in terms of stress in asset quality on account of various macroeconomic and other factors. Alka Shivastava says: “Ours is the first Women UCB to receive the coveted position as a zero NPA UCB in the central India. Our bank has higher youth accounts which account to more than 50% of the total accounts. Also, we have attained exponential growth in deposits and loans leading our bank to the forefront of women empowerment.”

Targets, Expansion Plans

As part of the expansion plans, the bank has already applied to RBI for opening 2 branches in Gwalior. Alka Shrivastava reveals: “Our long-term perspective is to spread our wings in Gwalior region as well as increase branch and ATM network. The bank also aims to replicate its business model and bring about growth with branch expansion.”

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