Located in the Mhaswad town of Maharashtra, Mann Deshi Bank does not only provide loans to rural women but also customises repayment policies as per the women’s needs. Providing loans for basic needs such as mobile phones to helping women set up their enterprises, this one-of-its-kind bank is empowering women in Indian villages.
Started by Chetna Sinha in 1997, the bank has eight branches which reach out to over 300,000 women through 140 field facilitators.
Chetna says, “Mann Deshi is not just a bank. We aim to meet the needs of these women and also empower them to become stronger personalities.”
Born and raised in Mumbai, Chetna was always inclined towards social service. The idea of starting Mann Deshi Bank came to her when a rural woman approached her for advice on opening a bank account.
“She wasn’t looking for charity, nor was she seeking any financial help. She just wanted a secure future for her family and to save money. That is when I thought of starting a bank that could meet the needs of these daily wage workers,” Chetna recalls.
But things didn’t fall into place overnight. Chetna was denied a licence because the women she would be giving loans to were illiterate. Though she was disheartened, Sinha received support from the village women, who encouraged her to pursue the idea, even asking her to educate them. Finally, will-power, passion and the women’s undying support led Chetna to start this unique bank.
Started with a share capital of ₹600,000, today, Mann Deshi bank deals with over 200,000 women through 8 branches and 140 field officers in Maharashtra and Karnataka and has ISO 9001 – 2000 certification and a recovery rate of 98 percent.
From micro-credit plans ranging from loans for five years to one day and providing loans as low as ₹5,000 to offering women the flexibility to pay on a daily basis, the bank has cracked the right model to engage rural women.
The bank also provides individual loans where a client can receive a loan of less than ₹15,000 with the signatures of two women who act as guarantors as well as group loans that can be availed for an amount of ₹5,000 to ₹20,000 by opening a savings bank account. The women can also apply for loans using gold or collateral deposits.
Another useful service is the daily loan facility. Every field officer handles 300 accounts and ensures recovery of the money. And because the repayment can start with amounts as low as ₹15 or ₹20, it is not a burden to the payee. Over 15,000 such transactions take place daily across the branches of Mann Deshi Bank.
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The bank also provides doorstep services to those who cannot visit the bank. “In various cases, women can’t reach the bank. So we thought why not take the bank to them?” asks Chetna.
From empowering women to making them more confident and self-dependent, Mann Deshi has played a crucial role in the lives of rural women. Had it not been a strong determination and never-give-up attitude of Chetna, this wouldn’t have been possible.
(Edited by Shruti Singhal)
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