Small Industries Development Bank of India (SIDBI) will partner with the Association of Microfinance Institutions of India (AMFI) to support women entrepreneurs in the backward districts of West Bengal. Deputy Managing Director of SIDBI, Sudatta Mandal, said that the women entrepreneurs will also be helped in terms of getting market and credit linkages.
Speaking at the AMFI-WB micro-finance summit here, Mandal said SIDBI has already spearheaded the project in Odisha and it has been very successful.
“Six backward districts of West Bengal have been identified for this purpose and 12,000 women will be given credit so that their incomes rise. This will be a two-year intervention by SIDBI,” he stated. By this intervention, the average income of women will rise by at least 30 per cent, Mandal added.
Alok Mishra, CEO of MFIN, a self-regulatory organisation (SRO) in the micro-finance sector, said the basic idea is of financial inclusion which had been the focus of successive governments since Independence. He said that micro-finance penetration has reached 30 per of the addressable market, while the balance of 70 per cent is yet to be tapped.
Presently, the total outstanding of the sector is around Rs three lakh crore, Mishra said, adding that micro-credit has emerged as a robust tool for financial inclusion. He also said that besides the digital infrastructure which is being increasingly used by the micro-finance sector, the human connect factor should also remain.
“Human connect has to be there. Digital connect should be used as an enabler”, he added.
Jiji Mammen, Executive director of another SRO Sa-Dhan, said the COVID-19 pandemic had posed a challenge to the industry, but the sector has now returned to normalcy.
“West Bengal is a leading state for the micro-finance industry. The smaller MFIs have done a good job in terms of recovery when the collection efficiency ratio declined during the pandemic. This had happened because of good connect with the people”, he said.
Credit & Development Forum, the umbrella body of MFIs in Bangladesh, expressed keenness to enter a pact with AMFI for exchange of ideas and experience.
The ED of the forum, Mohammad Awal, said, “A bilateral agreement with AMFI with the forum will be worthwhile for exchange of ideas”