Monday, 30th October 2017

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Small bank pledge to reach have-nots

Tata Trusts chairman backs projects to improve healthcare facilities and financial inclusion in NE

By OUR BUREAU in Guwahati
  • Published 18.06.18
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Ratan Tata speaks at the bank launch on Sunday

Guwahati: The Northeast on Sunday got its first small bank that promises to take banking to the doorsteps of customers in the region.

Tata Trusts chairman Ratan Tata, who formally launched the North East Small Finance Bank here, said, "If we are to have a prosperous India in future, there will have to be a realisation that we need to be a land of equal opportunities where entrepreneurship and enterprise can reach the vast number of Indians who had not had that opportunity."

"Most of us involved in growing prosperity in India have to admit that it has been easy for big borrowers to get funds but for a vast number of people in the country, who have been either underserved or not served, finance was not easily available," he said.

"I wish this bank every success. Tata Trusts is very happy to participate and play a role in spreading prosperity to millions of people who do not have access to funds and do not have the opportunity of enterprise and entrepreneurship," Tata said.

Tata, through his investment arm RNT Associates Private Ltd, has invested Rs 40 crore in the bank.

Rupali Kalita, the bank's chief executive officer and managing director, said, "Being the only small finance bank from the Northeast, our focus will be to take banking to low-income group customers. We have an emotional attachment with the people of the region and we hope to take our business volume to Rs 1,800 crore from Rs 1,089 crore at present. Our target is to open another 80 branches in the Northeast in the current financial year."

The bank presently has 5.21 lakh customers with 156 branches across the Northeast. Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya and Sikkim have a branch each, three are in Tripura while the rest are in Assam. "Our target is to have branches in rural areas in all northeastern states by March 2019," she said.

The bank has been promoted by RGVN (North East) Microfinance Ltd, the sole micro-finance company in the region that started in 2008.

It is the only non-banking finance company in the Northeast to be granted in-principle approval to set up a small finance bank.

Barring NEDFi, no other local company has invested in the bank.

Chairman of RGVN (North East) Microfinance Ltd, Brij Mohan, said, "It will be a client-centric bank with a clear intent to serve the underserved. We will reach out to the clients instead of waiting for them to come to us."

Assam finance minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, global chief executive officer of Opportunity International, Robert Dunn, and others were present at the function.