Image credits: Equitas Holdings
Equitas Holdings is changing the lives of the poor in India, and changing the face of banking in Chennai, the capital city of the Indian state of Tamil Nadu. Traditionally MFI customers in India were the rural poor. In 2012 69% of MFI clients were rural. However, the latest data shows that 67% of the people who are MFI customers are now the urban poor. Equitas Holdings and other MFIs are poised to take advantage of this change.
Pavement dwellers in India are exactly what they sound like. Pavement dwellers build shelters out of odds and ends on streets, sidewalks, and paths of cities. According to the 2001 Census, over 9000 families resided on the pavements of Chennai.
Equitas Holdings is changing the lives of some of these pavement dwelling families through two different programs. The Bird’s Nest program rehabilitates families, finding them homes off the street and helps with rent and food for the first six months. The program also provides job training for the adults in the family. So far, over 800 families have been taken off the streets.
The other program from Equitas Holdings is a scholarship program for the children of pavement dwellers or rehabilitated pavement dwellers. Equitas uses input from NGOs to select students based on merit and economic need. The total amount given to 12 students in 2016 is between 3.5 and 4 lakh. A lakh equals 100,000 rupees.
In 2016, The Reserve Bank of India gave approval for Equitas Holdings to launch a Small Finance Bank. This makes Equitas the first private bank in Chennai.
The SFB will focus on four key areas including offering existing range of credit products such as microfinance, small enterprise loans, business banking loans to small commercial establishments, commercial vehicle financing, and affordable housing finance.
Equitas Holdings is changing the lives of the poor in India in more than one way. Their Nest program, scholarship program, and microfinance bank will make life easier for the poor in Chennai.