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  Social Responsibility

Skill Development
Published on: Feb. 13, 2020, 3:18 p.m.
IDFC First Bank supports ‘livelihood development through entrepreneurship'
  • The support they needed

By Business India Editorial

fter years of financial struggle, Maya, a resident of Dombivli, in suburban Mumbai, decided to take matters into her own hands and sought a job in a beauty parlour. Two years later, she started a venture on her own. That is when she heard of IDFC First Bank’s livelihood development programme, run through NGO Pratham. Maya availed of a Rs30,000 package that allowed her to purchase advanced equipment, mirrors and shelves and a set of cosmetics and consumables. “I did not want to just earn money and run the household; I wanted to make something of myself and support my family,” she says.

IDFC First Bank supports ‘livelihood development through entrepreneurship’ under its CSR mission, in partnership with Pratham Vocational Training Institute. Its objective is to target women from economically disadvantaged backgrounds and help them to undertake entrepreneurship activities in beauty programmes as a livelihood opportunity. Loans provided through banks charged a high interest rate and many of them would not provide loan to women whose family income would not meet their requirement. Hence, many women, even after being capable, were left out and had to work under other people. To help such women who were unable to seek support from formal financial channels and needed mentorship support, the bank has set up a self-sustaining and revolving CSR fund, where the grant money is given as an interest-free loan to women entrepreneurs by the NGO Pratham.

Women like Maya who wished to start/scale up their beauty business were selected in a shortlist of 42 entrepreneurs out of 50-60 aspiring women. The short-listing was done through home visits, interviews, counselling sessions, documentation, and budget plan.

During home visits, co-ordinators checked their family background, experience in the field, their knowledge about the subject, the location they selected and their level of interest. Candidates were scored on these parameters. Since many lacked documents required to acquire a loan, they were helped by the co-ordinators to complete documentation.

These women prepared a budget plan stating the support they needed, how they would utilise the money, the services they would provide and at what rate, how they would 

market their services, the cost they would need to incur and the profit they could make.

Each woman beneficiary received funding support to purchase assets for her beauty parlour. Once her business was set up, she would start repaying this funding in instalments, depending on her capacity, to Pratham.

This amount was pooled back into a revolving fund that is used at the end of two years to support a new batch of women entrepreneurs.

Once selected, most of the women entrepreneurs demanded sizeable loans to set-up their micro-enterprises. The team faced issues convincing them to take low asset support but succeeded through constant counselling. However, Pratham helped them to calibrate their business plan and need.

Since these women were selected from various parts of each state, the local co-ordinators had difficulty in taking follow up and meeting each woman on a regular basis. These women were provided with a logbook to maintain all the expenses and income generated through the services and the local co-ordinators would meet them every 15 days.

Thus far, 42 women across four states have been supported to set up micro-enterprises. With half of all loans recovered, another lot of 16 women entrepreneurs will now be supported this financial year. Through this project, the women have made progress in their business as well as in their personalities. Pratham also observed increased confidence in women by expanding their business. Many have started making a profit and have put it to good use. They are also able to support their families financially. Additional assistance is provided through advance learning by the master trainer, books and skills to run a successful business.

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