BFSI

Two decades of Bandhan: Banking with the unbanked

In two decades, Bandhan transformed from its original avatar of an NGO called Bandhan-Konnagar, to an NBFC to a pan-India universal bank called Bandhan Bank
Two decades of Bandhan: Banking with the unbanked
Two decades of Bandhan: Banking with the unbanked

Through its two decades of existence, Bandhan transformed from its original avatar of an NGO called Bandhan-Konnagar, to a non-banking financial company (NBFC), and finally to a pan-India universal bank called Bandhan Bank. Bandhan-Konnagar still exists as an NGO and running developmental interventions across healthcare, education, livelihood promotion, financial literacy and employment generation.
 
Bandhan-Konnagar was started by Chandra Shekhar Ghosh, who believed that social development can only follow when economically underprivileged people are given a chance at building a sustainable livelihood for themselves and these efforts are coupled with holistic development.

Bandhan’s efforts have been directed towards fostering holistic development – financial and social – and catalysing the upliftment of the underprivileged. While today Bandhan Bank works towards providing financial solutions to the needs of Indians from all walks of life, Bandhan-Konnagar runs a slew of programmes aimed at driving social transformation at scale. These programmes cater to those needs of people, which require utmost attention and the availability of which has a long-term positive impact on the community and the nation. Bandhan-Konnagar is also the CSR implementing agency of Bandhan Bank.
 
Today, Bandhan-Konnagar runs programmes across 12 states in India and employs more than 3,000 employees. It has been able to touch the lives of more than 30 lakh families in its journey. Through its micro credit portfolio, Bandhan Bank has been able to provide financial support to more than 1.70 crore women, who are now micro-entrepreneurs and are successfully running their own businesses.

“The last two decades have been immensely fulfilling. What started as a small effort in bringing meaningful change to the lives of the underprivileged has now become a movement. We always aimed at building scale because we believe that small is beautiful, but big is necessary. Through the concerted efforts of the entire team of Bandhan, we have been able to bring transformation to millions of households and that has been our true measure of success. While it has been two decades, for us, this is just the beginning.” said Chandra Shekhar Ghosh, Founder, Bandhan
 
The occasion of Bandhan-Konnagar’s 20th anniversary was marked by a webinar that saw renowned economist and Nobel Laureate, Prof. Abhijit Vinayak Banerjee and noted business leader, Sanjiv Puri, Chairman & Managing Director, ITC, whore shared their thoughts on the development agenda for the road ahead.  
 
“I first met Ghosh in 2006 and have been associated with Bandhan for the last 15 years. I take pride in where Bandhan has arrived and it’s been a privilege to observe what Bandhan does and how it touched people’s lives.” said Prof. Banerjee. He spoke about his work with Bandhan to assess how the latter’s Targeting the Hardcore Poor (THP) programme helped uplift the poorest of the poor by giving them access to economically productive assets. Over different time periods –ranging from 18 months to three years, seven years, and ten years – the outcomes were reassuringly positive, he said. “At present, there is worldwide policy interest in THP from organisations including the World Bank, United Nations and OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development). Thanks to Bandhan, we have been able to build a global tool for fighting poverty,” Prof. Banerjee added.
 
“Bandhan’s journey over the last two decades has been a remarkable one. It embodies the true spirit of an enterprise, which should serve not only an economic purpose, but also a social purpose. As we look to the future, development needs to be sustainable, inclusive and leverage digital technologies for progress. Organisations need to focus on economic, environmental and social capital. Institutions like Bandhan and ITC are fine examples of this tenet, which is integral to their DNA,” said Sanjiv Puri. 

Read more: Jan Dhan Yojana: 41.75 Cr accounts opened under the scheme

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