Bhartiya Mahila Bank
Asserting that Bharatiya Mahila Bank will emerge as a strong brand over time, its chairman and managing director Usha Ananthasubramanian has said the biggest challenge so far for the country’s first all-woman bank has been to establish itself.The Bharatiya Mahila Bank, inaugurated by the UPA government last year with a capital infusion of Rs 1,000 crore, completed a year this November.”The challenge has been to establish the brand. We are a new player and at every location you are a new face,” Ananthasubramanian said. Since the business involved dealing with other people’s money, individuals take time to warm up to a new player, she added.”Even a moneylender in a village enjoys more trust. Unless you become familiar or are introduced to the people over and over again, they will not trust you,” she said. “We had our own teething problems and now we are putting things in place one after the other…we are building it brick-by-brick. I am sure slowly, but surely we will grow,” she said.Stating that a performance comparison with other banks waas unfair, she said it was too early for anybody to comment on the success or failure of BMB.While infrastructure financier IDFC and micro lender Bandhan recently received in-principle approval for opening up a bank have been given 18 months for setting up the bank, BMB just had 55 days between the grant of licence and opening of the branch, Ananthasubramanian said.”We were provided a gestation period of 55 days to set up the bank in which we had to write our policies, design products, get people, technology in place,” she said, adding that setting up a bank is a different ball-game altogether.Talking about the business growth, she said the bank has set a deposit target of Rs 1,000 crore and Rs 800 crore for lending for the current fiscal. So far, its deposit stands at over Rs 300 crore and loans at Rs 500 crore. The bank is looking to increase its branch network to 80 by March-end, which will also include 20 rural branches, from 35 currently. It is also planning to roll out 50 offsite ATMs across the country by the end of this year, she said.Total employee strength of the bank stands at 300 and it will add another 120 by the end of this fiscal. It has one lakh customers, out of which 81% are women.
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