A key partnership Selco has recently achieved is with Sewa Bank. This will not only provide access to additional microfinancing, but will also provide access to more customers in a very efficient manner.
SM: Let me ask you a bit more about the Sewa Bank partnership opportunity. What does it offer and how will you leverage that? Sewa Bank started in 1972 as a part of Sewa (Self Employed Women’s Association) which was a Women’s Union. It was looking to give poor women who were mostly street vendors access to credit.
Financial institutions saw no value in poor women who had no assets. That led to the creation of a new bank, which is Sewa bank – the whole purpose was financing poor women. Over the years they have built up a clientele of 300,000 users. Most are street vendors, midwives, and all sorts of poor women who are actually part owners in the bank. They have built up from bottom to top with varied financing mechanics, depending on the type of work a woman does. The loan in not given for the sake of giving loans. They look at clients as partners. They look at what the loan is being used for.
SM: In essence they offer strategy consulting to go along with the loan. Do you know how that differs from Grameen Bank in Bangladesh? HH: I can’t say because the Grameen Bank has done very similar work. I know that a lot of the banks in Karnataka look at it in terms of how to meet their maximum quota of those types of loans. They put little thought into how the loans should be used.
SM: The banks there do not provide the consulting, so they have not achieved as deep results? HH: Yes, and their brochures point to the number of loans. Sewa bank is the biggest institution, but they have Sewa Health, Sewa Childcare, Sewa Hometrust, and other organizations under the umbrella. They have 25,000 women masons under the housing trust who are potential energy service entrepreneurs. That is the network we can feed into. They can sit with the midwife and see what type of energy solutions can meet the midwife needs.