There have been quite a few developments since the launch of the first Swabhimaan Kendra in a Yeshwantpura village in Kolar district, a few hours drive from Bengaluru. Swabhimaan is Rang De’s initiative to promote financial inclusion in India and we are proud to announce that two more centres in Chhattisgarh have gone live in the last two months.
The kendras in Chhattisgrah are situated in Demar and Potiyadih — two villages on the outskirts of Dhamtari, a small town 60km away from the state capital Raipur. Like in Karnataka, the Swabhimaan Kendras in Chhattisgarh are functioning from the premises of the India Post Payments Bank.
With a population in the vicinity of 5,000–6,000, these villages in Chhattisgarh have schools and anganwadis, roads and a finctioning health centre. However, like many villages in our country, they are still cut off from reliable and effective banking services. The Bank of Maharashtra is the only leading bank in Potiyadih while the State Bank of India only has a kiosk in Demar.
The Swabhimaan initiative
Financial inclusion at the grassroots remains the one of root causes for a host of problems — lack of enterprise, stagnation in small industries, rural indebtedness, farmer distress — in India.
Our aim with Swabhimaan is to tackle the problem of financial inclusion by reaching out to the remote rural populations and providing them with access to financial services; more specifically, affordable, collateral-free credit, right on their doorsteps.
Optimistic for the future: reality at the grassroots
In Demar and Potiyadih, the villagers largely work as agricultural labourers in bigger farms or as mistris (construction labourers). Many of them depend on work from the NREGA projects for employment after the harvest season.
In this region, the lack of adequate finance means that small enterprises have been slow to grow. Since the time Rang De began operations in the villages, we have heard stories of various problems the people face. There were reports of a pension scheme scam in the recent past that saw villagers lose a sum of Rs.2.5 lakhs; then there is the notorious problem of last-mile connectivity when it comes to various welfare schemes and services offered by the government.
When we officially launched Swabhimaan in the villages a few months back, most of the attendees had bank accounts but few had really used them.
Over the past months, the villagers have shown a keen interest to transact using their bank accounts.
Many of them are also learning how to use ATM cards, leverage phone banking and other services.
Despite their adverse experience with other non-governmental organisations, the villagers were really glad to see the launch of an new initiative that they hope will help them learn about digital services and financial literacy.
We are happy to enter another state in India, where we believe the Swabhimaan project can make a significant impact in the lives of the people.
Swabhimaan is our latest initiative funded by the Tata Trusts where we use technology to deliver financial literacy-powered low-cost loans directly to the doorsteps of borrowers in rural India.
Support us by visiting our donation portal and letting others know about this initiative tto promote financial inclusion in rural India.