The Telegraph
Sunday , March 30 , 2014
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Women’s bank opens shop

- Power on lips, sessions on savings every Saturday

Patna, March 29: Women can take loans to start beauty parlours, catering units or day care centres from Bharatiya Mahila Bank that opened its first branch in the state today.

The branch of the all-women bank — promised by finance minister P. Chidambaram in last year’s budget — is located on the premises of hotel Maurya.

Chairperson and managing director Usha Ananthasubramanian said it would cater to all types of women, including members of self-help groups, but also allow men to open accounts.

She said: “The bank has set foot in Bihar with its first branch. With this, the bank has opened 22 branches across the country. It is designed to cater to the needs of women.”

The first bank for women was opened in Germany in 1912, but it closed down after the First World War broke out in 1914. Pakistan also opened a bank dedicated to women’s cause in 1989 — then Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto inaugurated it. Named First Women Bank Ltd, it has 42 branches mostly centred in big cities.

In the 2013-14 budget, Chidambaram announced the decision to set up the bank with an initial capital of Rs 1,000 crore. On November 19 last year, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh inaugurated the Bharatiya Mahila Bank in Mumbai.

Explaining the institution’s difference with other public sector banks, Ananthasubramanian added that the Bharatiya Mahila Bank offers concessional rate of interest on various loans. For instance, it offers 1 per cent concession on interest charged on educational loan for girls. If a woman completes her MBBS degree and decides to start a practice, she would also be given 1 per cent concession on the interest charged for a loan.

For business ventures centred on women, she said the bank would offer loans to open beauty parlours, establish catering units and day care centres. Ventures with a focus on women empowerment, like opening of a nursing institute, would also be encouraged.

These schemes are besides regular loans for vehicle or home, which would be available for both men and women. The bank would allow men to open accounts, fixed deposits and recurring deposits with the bank.

The bank chief said 75 per cent of the loans given would be reserved for women, while the remaining would be available to all.

Stressing on the need to financially empower women, Ananthasubramanian said: “Indian women save money in their own traditional style but they don’t know how to save money in banks. The bank would organise a financial literacy programme every Saturday afternoon. It would tell women about the importance of savings and motivate them to avail the bank’s services.”

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