roadly speaking, micro-finance
pertains to the financial service extended to or operating among the
underprivileged sections of society, including instruments for savings,
credit and insurance. Micro-credit has emerged as a powerful tool to
initiate economic and social transformation among the disempowered,
particularly women, while making them partners in development.
The ICICI group has for long
recognised the importance of developing and supporting micro-credit
initiatives in India. Much before the financial market started realising
micro-finance as an enabler in channelling credit to the poorer section of
society, ICICI had started associating with micro-finance agencies by
providing financial support to these organisations. Realising that the
micro-finance providers require not just finance but also institutional
support by way of technical support, training, etc., the Company formed a
separate group in 2000 called the Social Initiatives Group. This
action-based research group helps build the capacities of the poor, and
thereby enables them to contribute meaningfully to the economy and society.
The group has identified micro-finance, primary education and infant
mortality reduction as thrust areas of work. The group is also planning to
use technology in dissemination and support of micro-credit products.
ICICI Bank is focusing on
micro-credit in a big way. It has taken the lead in financing micro-credit
organisations across the country. It provides financial assistance to
micro-finance institutions and also by providing assistance to the ultimate
borrowers directly. Most of the borrowers are women. Based on the needs of
the farmers, the bank has provided timely credit.
With the merger of Bank of Madura
with ICICI Bank, the Bank has acquired a vast network of Self-Help Groups (SHGs)
consisting of women, developed by Bank of Madura without any external
interface or NGOs. At present, there are 2,124 SHGs spread over 13 districts
in Tamil Nadu with more than 40,000 members. The SHGs were developed over a
period of five years. There is a separate division of rural development that
is dedicated to the development of SHGs. This division has a highly
experienced and committed team of personnel, which has developed a unique
approach towards lending to the poor.
SHGs are in real terms
self-managing groups, who, after initial training, handle all aspects of
accounting and finance of the group. The group members are entrusted with
the responsibility of maintaining accounts, determining the loan amounts to
be given to individual members, deciding on future course of action, etc.
Finance provided to the group members is based on actual requirements of the
activity planned to be taken up by the members. The loan amount is decided
by the group members mutually. There is no margin stipulation for availing
of the loan. The facilitators (Bank employees) form the group, provide
initial training to the group on various aspects of group dynamics, finance
and accounting, help develop group cohesiveness and attend meetings to
oversee the overall group functioning. The group leader is provided inputs
on management, health care, legal awareness and civic sense.
Community development ?the
ICICI Bank has evolved a unique approach towards SHG development that not
only focuses on financial assistance for women but also on developing social
awareness leading to work on common social activities like adult education,
cleanliness drives, improved sanitation, resolution of water problems, etc.
The main objective of SHG promotion is not only to provide financial
assistance, but also to touch other important intangible aspects of social
life by creating basic awareness, imparting training on health care,
promotion of religious and intercaste harmony, providing fundamental
education for rural women, inculcating the habit of saving, and identifying
and upgrading the skills of rural women in order to increase their level of
income generation by introducing the concept of entrepreneurship.
Apart from this, the general
problems of members are discussed and solved in meetings. The groups have
been provided 23 subjects to deliberate upon during welfare activity
meetings. To have a clear focus on financial and other welfare activities,
the groups meet twice a month ?once to transact financial business and once
for welfare activities. Thus the aim of SHG development includes not only
economic upliftment in its ambit, but also social upliftment and this is
where the approach is different from that of other micro-finance
A unique approach to SHG
The SHG groups under the ICICI Bank umbrella represent a unique approach.
Mentioned below are its distinguishing features:
1. Activity/need-based loans: The quantum of bank loan is
need/activity-based and not tagged to the quantum of savings of the group.
2. Training ?a vital input: The training inputs cover
leadership development, maintenance of books of accounts, convening meetings
and recording the minutes, simple banking operations, group dynamics, etc.
3. Flexibility: The current model allows for changes in the structure
and functioning of the SHGs. The implementing team meets once in a quarter
to share the experience with the SHGs and suggest changes in the existing
model according to the needs of the group.
4. Sustained relationship: The relationship between ICICI Bank and
the group is continuous and not that of banker-borrower. These factors
create a base for sound banking and promoting quality clientele.
5. Insurance: Most of the groups have taken accidental insurance
policy. The groups are also provided life insurance cover for a minimal
one-time consideration. The group leader, at any point of time, carries an
emergency fund to meet the contingencies.
6. SHG federation: As a move towards imparting more independence to
the SHGs and encouraging them to undertake group activities together for
pursuing common goals, the SHGs are encouraged to form federations and carry
out common activities to the benefit of all the SHGs.
To promote education, especially
among girls, a cash award is given to five top performing daughters of SHG
members. In order to improve hygiene, loans are provided for low-cost
prefabricated toilets. The Bank is in the process of tying up with a local
eye hospital for providing free eye care in villages. In order to keep
abreast of the latest technology and impart the same to members, two
computer labs have also been established recently. Being a
technology-oriented organisation, the group is looking at introducing
technology to enable the dissemination of micro-credit services.
ICICI Bank has been awarded the
NABARD Trophy for giving loans to maximum number of SHGs in Tamil Nadu
during the year 1999-2000 and 2000-2001. In recognition of its outstanding
work in this field, ICICI Bank’s Social Banking Group Head has been invited
by the Reserve Bank of India to be a member of the national-level Expert
Committee on Micro-Credit. An achievement to be proud of.
Courtesy: Bhupinder Singh, ICICI Bank
What?? Just A Housewife?
I confess! I’m a housewife! But first things
In order to live in the world,
we must name it. Names are essential for the construction of
reality because without a name, it is difficult to accept the
existence of a person, object, event or even a feeling. One such
name is Housewife!
I went to school in the fifties
when our generation was told (brainwashed?) that the ultimate aim
of life was being a housewife. By the time we were out of St.
Xavier’s College (in the mid-sixties) most of us were pushed into
matrimony arranged by our parents. In fact, my first daughter
arrived along with the law degree. Girls who were not married
“must have some defect?said my granny. So while my friends were
changing boyfriends, I was changing Pampers because “How can you
be selfish and even think of a legal career when you have a baby,
home and husband to look after??asked my elders. “Just be a good
housewife,?was their unsolicited advice. So there I was .... for
years ..... just a housewife.
The pages of the calendar flip
over. It is 2002. The eldest grandson has gone to college while
the other two are in school. In between, hubby’s job took us to
the Gulf, away from all in-laws (and outlaws). I sought
self-expression and fulfilment. I worked as a censor for Qatar’s
Ministry of Information in their Press and Publications
department. It was a half-day job so the other half I enjoyed by
writing a page for “Gulf Times? Twice a week I conducted a Hindi
film music programme for Radio Qatar. And oh! I was also a
Today, in Mumbai, I keep busy as
a journalist, a delegate of the Parsi Matrimonial Court, a public
speaker (for various Lions and Rotary Clubs) and a family
counsellor. Yet I get the heebie-jeebies each time I explain that
I don’t have a nine-to-five job and people ask “So you’re a
housewife then??Then, I provide these details of my life to clear
away their confused and ambivalent attitude to the concept of
I know times have changed. Girls
don’t want to be housewives, but all boys want one, full-time, or
one who is moonlighting from her other nine-to-five paid job. I
cannot think of a fundamentally more important job than a
housewife’s. No job is more necessary to decent human existence
and less likely to be replaced by a computer. There are never
redundancies, only shortages. It’s a job performed for love, not
On the other hand, Executive is
a “name?for a many-skilled, many-faceted absorbing job that many
aspire to. It is performed for money, not love. These two jobs
have different “names?though they have several similarities.
They’re both defined in the Dictionary.
Executive: A person
responsible for the administration of a project, activity or
Housewife: A woman who
keeps a house.
Honey, the best years of my life
have been spent in being a good housewife and yet, it implies a
very simple job while Executive implies a most important position!
How unfair! But hold on, hold on, tell me: which of these two
(executive and housewife) would you trust to bring up your
children?........Ha! I gotcha!
Shall I raise housewifery to the
political and economic importance of an executive by calling
talking to the milkman “a meeting? Scolding my teenaged
grandchildren “disciplinary and grievance handling? Putting
medicines out of a toddler’s reach a “workplace safety audit? Why
do husbands never say “No, I don’t work.. I’m just an executive?
As I said earlier, names are
essential. Names are human inventions. Then why does the BEST job
in the world sound like the wrong name? I don’t know the answer.