Empowering Women: Bihar Gramin Bank

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Bihar Gramin Bank (BGB) along with various insurance companies undertook the mission to reach out and serve the rural population. First, it undertook to serve its area of operation including Bhagalpur, Munger, Samastipur, Khagaria and Sheikhpura for spreading the insurance network and thereafter claims handling, settlement and renewals. It has kept the documentation for renewals to the minimum and settlement hassle free. The bank worked on an in-house renewal process keeping in mind the literacy level of its target. It also converted the marketing collateral into regional language.

Challenges

As a process, the insurance claim is filed with the help of insurance company’s representative, responsible for first investigating and then negotiating the payment from the company. The Head Office Claims Team is informed by mail that claim documents are being dispatched so that settlement could be initiated. In absence of proper documents received, the claims settlement period could increase up to three months. The objective was to ensure majority of cases are resolved within a shorter time period.

Solution

A massive financial literacy campaign was launched by BGB and Aviva Life Insurance (ALI) to spread awareness about various programmes of the bank to both people as well as Banking Correspondent Agents (BCAs). Trained bank staff dedicated teams are created for all the four regional offices covering nine districts that periodically helped people with imparting knowledge about insurance. The aim is to cover every individual of the rural / urban population in these districts that are covered by 376 bank branches.

Outcome

The long-term approach of meeting the profitability and sustainability of the product, designing of a cost effective renewal process helped in positioning the company differently itself in the market. No documentation and ease of understanding of the process is the key to successful implementation of the process. Customising the process with the use of vernacular languages is another effort to reach out the maximum customers.

Other Achievements

Serving people during floods: During recent floods in Bihar, all the nine districts under bank’s operation were badly affected. Chairman, Arvind Singh Shekhawat innovated the idea of making the cash available at the doorstep of customers through its Banking Correspondent Agents (BCAs) by sending them to the villages through boats and arranging cash delivery in the remotest flood affected area. The entire operation was successfully commissioned under the direct guidance of Shekhawat.

Women Empowerment: BGB rescued Sweta Devi from brothel in Munger and settled her to regain her dignity and lead a respectable social life. This was followed by many similar examples. The bank first encouraged them to form a Joint Liability Group (JLG) and provided finance. The idea was to put these women together and further encourage them to take up a small enterprise, generate employment through small business of tailoring, bangle making and selling, fruit and vegetable vendor, cosmetic goods selling etc.

Later on, the loan amount was gradually enhanced so that their earnings increase and are able to form Self Help Group (SHG). Sweta Devi, as a result of help received from BGB, is running Ekta SHG as its Secretary and is mobilising other women from nearby villages. She has also been made a BCA by the bank and is called “Bank-Sakhi”. Bank has provided her with micro-ATM for transaction purposes

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