Bank of Baroda

Learning to make ladies’ handbags.



It is an accepted fact that women have the potential to be successful in all walks of life. Like men, they too have the aspiration to excel, the determination to succeed and the capacity to work hard. They are making their mark in the world of business without abdicating their familial responsibilities.

Kiran Wadhwan, Manager, joined Bank of Baroda in 1973 at the age of 20. Fresh out of college, she lacked the basic knowledge of operating a bank account, leave aside overseeing savings bank accounts at the Bank’s Napean Sea Road Branch. After 28 years she is happy that the Bank offered her the same opportunities as her male counterparts. Her role model is another lady, P.D. Kapadia, then Asst. General Manager (International Division, Central Office), the first lady officer of Bank of Baroda, whose kind and pleasant demeanour, as also her encouragement and guidance, commanded respect from one and all.

Last year, the Year of Women’s Empowerment, Bank of Baroda conducted a survey. When asked her views on the subject, Kiran replied: "Women’s Empowerment is providing equal opportunities to women, without any discrimination. Women should be accorded the same respect and confidence should be reposed in their abilities, both intellectual and managerial … I do not feel that reservation for women would help in further empowerment. Women are proud of their achievements, based on merit and hard work."

Despite this, the social background and upbringing as well as cultural mores are not conducive to the flowering of the entrepreneurial spirit among women. However, the economy on the whole can be kept moving and growing only with the widening of the entrepreneurial base among women. According to M. Venkateswarlu, Sr. Manager (SSI), Bank of Baroda: "Studies on women entrepreneurs have shown that when women venture into self-employment activities, they usually choose activities which are an extension of their homes. Small businesses like manufacture of pickle or papad or readymade garments seem to be natural extensions of the activities to which women are accustomed in India.

"However, what is really necessary is to assist women who want to become entrepreneurs in acquiring the necessary entrepreneurial skills and also to help in the formative stages with respect to finance and marketing."

Apart from low levels of literacy, women lack economic independence, skills and market exposure. Besides, they invariably need credit and credit plus services in order to meet their requirements for orientation, sensitization, exposure visits, skill training, entrepreneurship development programmes, marketing training, etc.

Bank of Baroda, one of the premier banks in India, with a countrywide network of 2,636 branches and international presence in 16 countries, is always proactive in delivering requisite credit to women entrepreneurs. While the Bank is committed to give priority to women borrowers under Government and poverty alleviation schemes, it has a special scheme called the Akshay Mahila Arthik Sahay Yojna for the benefit of women to its credit.

Akshay Mahila Arthik Sahay Yojna (AMASY)

The objective of this scheme is to enable women entrepreneurs to take up self-employment ventures or to set up industrial undertakings for earning their livelihood independently. All women entrepreneurs who are engaged in any business activity and those desirous of taking up self-employment ventures or an industrial business activity individually or in groups are eligible for financial assistance under the scheme.

Attending a class at AMASY.

The ventures and activities that can be undertaken are:

» Professional and self-employed ventures such as chartered accountants, lawyers, doctors, architects, teachers, etc.

» Small business viz. beauty parlours, designer boutiques, circulating libraries, laundries, tailoring, eating houses, tea stalls, sewing machines for job work, coaching classes, bakeries, crèche, lunch package service and the like.

» Retail trade such as merchants dealing in essential commodities, retail traders in fertilizers and pesticides, general provision stores, cutlery, handicrafts, vegetable vending, fruit vending, flower shops and the like.

» Allied agricultural activities viz. poultry farm, house dairy, rabbit rearing, floriculture, nursery, gobar gas plants, bee-keeping, piggery, fisheries, sericulture, etc.

The Bank extends financial assistance by way of working capital and term loans depending on the activity undertaken by women entrepreneurs.

Meena Shah, an Arts graduate and a customer of Bank of Baroda, took a loan of Rs. 20 lakhs from the Bank. Initially, she started running her business in bandhani saris and dress materials from her home and gradually, as her business grew, she shifted base from home to shop. Says Meena: "My experience with Bank of Baroda has always been good. The services rendered by the Bank are pretty much to my satisfaction … The Bank played a very significant role in the growth of my business by providing me financial support. The staff has been very cooperative and encouraging in all stages of business growth."

Meena Shah (left) listens to customers in her shop selling saris and dress materials.

Hemlata K. Pandya is another satisfied customer who had entrepreneurship thrust upon her following the sudden demise of her husband, who ran a business manufacturing and exporting hardware items. According to Hemlata: "I have always had a homely relation with our Bank ever since we opened an account in 1973. I still remember those early days when my son (aged 8 years then) used to go to the Bank to deposit the cheques which were sometimes not filled correctly, but the staff was helpful and work was somehow managed.

"As a lady entrepreneur I can say that the Bank has always helped me even in the form of granting credits whenever needed during the course of business … I believe the business environment in our country is conducive and supportive to the lady entrepreneur as they are allotted priority directly or otherwise at various levels. I sincerely cherish the association with Bank of Baroda and am extremely satisfied and happy to bank with them."

Courtesy: Umakant Swami
Bank of Baroda