It is difficult to quantify the importance of banks in our life. Living in an era of ATMs and credit available through credible financial institutions, we do not know what it is to live in the contrary. A lot of people in the farms still live without such facilities. Is there a way to provide good financial services to them? We have MBAs specially trained in rural management. I guess it is a good idea to harness their talent for financial inclusion of everyone in the country.
Financial Inclusion means, very simply, providing financial services to one and all, irrespective of their income and the place they belong to. The minimum target of successful financial inclusion would be bank accounts and convenient credit services to one and all; the latter as first priority for farmers and small venture groups to save them from the clutches of moneylenders and unsolicited financial organizations. A presentation by Dr. K C. Chakrabarty, Deputy Governor of the Reserve Bank of India says that 46 percent of the farmers who own a mobile phone do not have a bank account. Now this should give us some food for thought to where we are headed and how the developed India is not so developed after all.
A rural manager can help. How?
Most of the rural management graduates work with Non Government Organizations after the completion of their course. Some work with public sector banks and energy companies as well. In the banking sector, they have to manage an already existing bank or set up a new branch. In both the cases, the main challenge is to bring the villagers to the bank. Another problem, according to Gunjan Pandey, probationary manager at Allahabad Bank is the middle men between the government and the bank. Bank managers need to break this barrier to have a transparent flow of information between them and the government.
The first problem of getting the villagers to avail the services of a bank can be tackled by using local support. Influence the influential so that they can motivate the rest”, says Amit Goel, a second year student at Institute of Rural Management, Anand (IRMA). Local support is essential since villagers do not easily trust people from outside, especially the cities. According to Pandey, setting up camps across remote areas will also help. One such camp at Jukehi, 18 kilometers from Katni, Madhya Pradesh brought in moderate success, with three to four farmers signing up for loans. Rural managers can better the success rates of these kinds of camps by combining their knowledge of marketing and understanding of the rural scenario. Tackling the middle men would be tough though, considering their penetration and hold in the villages; however, its solution will also pass through the raising awareness bit. Once the villagers and farmers are aware and informed, they will know which way to go.
The power of You
However, it all boils down to the individual and his/her motivation levels. According to Goel, after the government has granted the project, the funding agency has provided the money; it the individual who is responsible to make things work.