Banks in India Are Cashing In on a Major National Asset: Women

Millions stand to benefit from a bank that specializes in providing loans and savings accounts to India’s women.

(Photo: Ashok Sinha/Getty Images)

Oct 4, 2015· 0 MIN READ
Shaya Tayefe Mohajer is TakePart's News Editor.

A bank in India is helping women gain financial independence with loans for small businesses, from driving rickshaws to opening a medical clinic.

CNN Money reports that only 43 percent of women in the country have access to banking, compared with 75 percent of women in China. Considering that India’s population of 1.25 billion rivals China’s 1.35 billion, millions of women’s lives could be affected with greater access to capital.

Bharatiya Mahila Bank—the name translates to Indian Woman Bank—offers loans designed for empowerment.

The bank’s executive director, S.M. Swathi, says men are welcome too, but the loan products are designed to favor women and “encourage women from all sections of society” to chase their own ambitions and make an independent living. That’s not a common sentiment in India’s traditional, patriarchal society—but the banks are changing that conversation and helping women prove their worth.

Since launching in 2013 with a capital investment of $161 million, the bank has opened 80 branches to serve 155,000 customers. About 85,000 appliants have been granted loans.

One of those loans went to Babita Gaekwad, who told CNN Money she went from working part-time as a cook earning $180 a month to starting her own catering business with several friends. Now she earns $334 a month.

And her husband helps deliver the meals.