ICICI to more than double loans to women SHGs next fiscal

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The country's largest private sector lender ICICI Bank today said it is targeting to more than double its cumulative disbursements to women self help groups (SHGs) to Rs 2,500 crore by the end of the next fiscal.

"We started lending to SHGs 30 months ago and have disbursed around Rs 1,000 crore till now. We are targeting to take the cumulative disbursements under the programme to Rs 2,500 crore by March 2015," bank's Managing Director and Chief Exective Chanda Kochhar said here.

Over 70,000 SHGs across 164 districts in seven states have borrowed from the bank till now, which has directly helped 1 million women, she said, adding the number of beneficiaries will rise to 2 million by the end of FY15.

The bank lends at 14 per cent per annum to SHGs for one to three years, and the average ticket size of such loans is Rs 1.6 lakh, she said.

It disbursed Rs 330 crore in last fiscal (FY13), which is expected to rise furtehr to Rs 850 crore by the end of this fiscal, Kochhar said, announcing that the initiative will be rolled out in three new states in the next year.

The bank already has a presence in Maharashtra, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, MP, Rajasthan, Karnataka and Kerala, while Chhattisgarh, Bengal and Orrissa will be added.

When asked for the business details, Kochhar refused to call the vertical either as a profit centre nor did she say that it is part of its CSR efforts. It is an "initiative" which has wide impact on the society, she added.

She said the bank drives the initiative internally, without the help of any third party agents and has a dedicated staff strength of 550 people devoted for the initiative.

She said it is able to comrpess costs as the employees reach out to the borrowers at teh doorsteps, hence not requiring heavy investments at the branches, and also through the use of best of technology.

A SHG gets formed when 8-20 women from a particular area come together and start saving. After carrying out this execrcise, they approach a bank for a loan which will ultimately support livelihoods like buying sewing machines, working capital for a kirana store, etc.

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