“The condition of women brought tears to my eyes, their husbands ill-treat women, and they were confined to their houses and deprived of health facilities.”—Chandra Shekar Ghosh
Nationalization of Banks in India was done in the year 1969 with objectives of providing
- Accessibility to Financial resources in Remote Places
- Eliminate monopoly of financial resources with private players
- Improvise financial Regulations
- Create finance awareness among masses
Now in the year 2017, India is witnessing rapid phased Digital economy being promoted by Govt. though Nationalization of Banks aimed at liberating uneducated masses of the nation from the clutches of private money lenders, even today many small and petty street hawkers depend on money lenders for day to day transactions. Though with the Government initiatives many citizens have been roped into banking sector still a major chunk of these small-scale business owners do not get the type of support our Banking sector should have extended to them in the past 72 years of Independence. So the focal point of this post from Kalam Fan Club is an incredible human being Mr. Chandra Shekar Ghosh who grew up in poverty-stricken childhood but realized the importance of education, got graduated and the first-hand experience of trauma faced by poverty ridden individuals led him to start first Eastern India’s microfinance institute that aims at liberating small business operators particularly women from the clutches of money lenders who are infamous for imposing exorbitant interests on the money lent. The microfinance NGO-‘Bandhan Bank’ (meaning Bonding in Hindi) started in the year 2001 has grown rapidly and is the unique recognition of first-ever microfinance institute in India to be declared as a regular Bank by Indian Govt.
The Learning Phase of Life
Chandra Shekhar Ghosh was born in a low-income family in the year 1960 at a village called Ramchandrapur, Bishalgarh in the Tripura state of India. He belongs to a Bangladesh refugee family that migrated to India after the liberation of Bangladesh from Pakistan in the year 1971. He had five siblings, and his father Hariprada Ghosh owned a sweet shop to support the joint family of 15 members. Chandra Shekar used to help his father in running the shop, and his father always emphasized the need for education, and despite hardship at home, he supported his son to complete his graduation. Chandra Shekar studied up to Class XII in a government school in Greater Tripura and did his Masters in Statistics from Dhaka University in the year 1984.
At Dhaka, he was supported by Shri. Brojonand Saraswati, a seer who gave him accommodation in ashram premises that was located on the university campus. Further, Chandra Shekar managed to fund his studies by giving tuitions.
Soon after graduation, he got exposure fighting for social welfare causes by associating with a Bangladesh based NGO called BRAC- focused on empowering rural women. After his long-term work experience in Bangladesh, he returned to India in the year 1997 and got involved in running his family business and also got associated with various NGOs. Chandra Shekar recalls the seed of service sown by his father in him through an incident. He wanted to gift his father with a shirt from his first salary, and he went to his village with the gift. His father refused to accept it and advised him to hand over the same to one of his uncle who badly needed it. The amalgamation of working for NGOs and the moral values bestowed upon him by his family created a selfless being in him. During these days a harsh experience faced by a woman who was a street hawker persuaded him to start an organization that provides financial assistance to women entrepreneurs who face the trauma of handling interests and debts of private money lenders. Working for NGOs helped him to understand the intricacies of fighting for a social cause and boosted his confidence to venture into his own Microfinance NGO in the year 2001.
The Inception of ‘Bandhan Bank’
According to Chandra Shekar, “Women empowerment is the key to nation building, but most women are illiterate, have no knowledge of banking and are exploited by private money lenders.” Providing hassle free loans to women entrepreneurs of rural sector became the key objective of Chandra Shekar’s Microfinance venture Bandhan Konnagar, an NGO started in July 2001 at Kolkata.
The Growth Phase
The major breakthrough for Bandhan Bank was in 2002 with Small Industries Development Bank of India (SIDBI) agreeing to grant a loan of 20 Lakh rupees. With this Ghosh and his team were enabled to start a new branch office in Howrah district located at 40 Kms distance from Head Office at Kolkata. Since the USP of Bandhan Bank is to provide loans to women, it could provide Rs. 15 Lakh loans to nearly 1120 women in the year 2003.
In the year 2009, Chandra Shekar could register Bandhan as a NBFC-Non Banking Finance company under Reserve Bank of India. Approximately till date nearly 80 lakh women have taken loans from Bandhan Bank and have ensured their life is free from the clutches of private money lenders.
In the year 2013 Bandhan Bank applied for the universal bank license. On 23 December 2014 Bandhan Bank was recognized as a subsidiary of Bandhan Financial Holdings. 17 June 2015. it got the RBI approval of bank license, and the final approval to start operations came on 17 June 2015.
Roadmap for future
Bandhan Bank has a roadmap to alleviate poverty and educate rural children with the best possible schooling system. As a part of this programme, it is financing nearly 1,200 zero-fee and homework-free non-formal primary schools across West Bengal, Assam, Bihar, Jharkhand and Tripura states which are educating more than 39,000 children in the age group of 6-12 years through edutainment style.
The year 2014— Global Growth Company recognition by the World Economic Forum
The year 2014—Forbes Entrepreneur with Social Impact 2014
The year 2014—Economic Times Entrepreneur of the Year 2014
The year 2009— The Genius HR ‘Entrepreneur of the Year’
More than all these awards numerous instances of women folks like Aparna Paria from Champahati in Hooghly district who took a loan of Rs. 2000 in the year 2005 to sell fish in her locality has paid back the loan and is today owning an enterprise that sells TV Dish antennas and Packaged Drinking Water bottles depicts the manner in which the life of thousands of women are transformed.
Kalam Fan Club team salutes Chandra Shekar Ghosh for his impeccable contribution to the upliftment of women folks of a rural and underprivileged section of the society.