ICICI Bank is planning to extend support to over two million women with cumulative loan disbursements of Rs 2500 crore under its program for self-help groups (SHGs). Chanda Kochhar, MD and CEO of the bank told a press meet that the the next one year, the bank intends to double its reach and support over two million women with cumulative loans disbursements of Rs 2500 crore. “We have extended loans of more than Rs 1000 crore to 70,000 SHGs. In FY13, we had disbursed about Rs 330 crore to SHGs. This financial year, we have more than doubled that pace and we are going to be disbursing about Rs 850 crore loans to SHG in FY14. On an average, we are adding about 5000 groups per month. By June 2014, we will cross another milestone. We would have assisted about one lakh SHGs by then,” she said.
On the International Women’s Day the bank reached a significant milestone of supporting one million women beneficiaries through its program.The bank has been running the program for 30 months, catering to 164 districts in 7 states. Kochhar said the project is not just money lending business but an initiative to help empower women in the country. It has a much larger social and economic implication for the country, she said pointing out that the bank has some 550 dedicated staff members running the program. Kochhar said the SHGs are generally required to pay interest of about 14% and they repay the amount in EMIs over a period of one to three years. The average loan size is Rs 1.5 lakh per SHG. The bank’s experience has been that there has been no defaults in the business. The bank plans to add three more states – West Bengal, Odisha and Chhattisgarh – in the next financial year and Kochhar said the next step will be to offer micro-insurance products to these SHGs.
To mark the milestone, the bank handed over a cheque to Manisha Bangar, the one millionth woman beneficiary, in Mumbai. Bangar, 29 and mother of two, represents Sant Janabai Mahila Swayam Sahaya Bachat Gat from Sheel village in Shahpur, Thane district. Wife of a marginal farmer, she works as an assistant tailor and dreams to set up her own tailoring shop. She will use part of the loan to buy a new sewing machine and take the first step towards fulfilling her dream.