FM lauds SHG Bank linkage program as the ultimate inclusion program
New Delhi | July 2017
New Delhi, 12th July 2017 : Shri Arun Jaitley, Finance Minister today delivered the key note address on the occasion of the NABARD led Self Help Group (SHG) Bank Linkage Program reaching the milestone timeline of 25 years. The program launched in 1992 with a target of linking 500 SHGs in a year’s time has transformed into the world’s largest micro-finance program, touching a phenomenal over 100 million poor rural households. NABARD dedicated its 36th Foundation Day to this milestone by holding a seminar which was inaugurated by the Finance Minister at Vigyan Bhawan on 11th July 2017.

The SHG Bank Linkage program is the largest such program for women development with a staggering 85% of the groups belonging to women. Around 8.5 crore rural women have been able to chart their own destinies under this initiative. The program has also been one of the largest ever financial inclusion drives and a major business opportunity for the Indian banking system with over Rs. 61,500 crore outstanding bank loans and another Rs. 16,000 crore in savings accounts as on 31st March,2017. Interestingly, the SHG Bank Linkage Programme accounts for almost half of the Microfinance sector in India.

In its new avatar, the program is leveraging technology and more than 1.27 lakh SHGs are being brought onto the digital platform under NABARD’s E-SHAKTI project covering over 1.46 million household across 18,500 villages. Complete data of all the SHGs is being hosted on a dedicated website which will benefit banks in taking informed decisions on the credit needs of such SHGs. The FM lauded the achievements while urging them to rise to the challenges posed by an ever-changing economic scenario and demands of newer technology.

Speaking on the occasion, Shri Jaitley said,” “There is a natural tendency for certain sections of the society to be left behind in the growth story of a nation. And this happens inspite of all our best intentions and various development schemes of the Government. The NABARD led SHG Bank Linkage program gains increased importance because it addresses these very sections of the society which are excluded even after development. The large number of participants and participating agencies makes me hopeful about its expansion.”

The event saw participation of  eminent personalities like Dr.C Rangarajan, Former RBI Governor; Shri Aloysius Fernandez, Padmashree awardee and Member Secretary of MYRADA; Banks like SBI, Indian Bank, ICICI; SHG Members and NGOs who made significant contribution to the programme were felicitated by Honorable Minister.

Speaking on the occasion, Dr. Harsh Kumar Bhanwala, Chairman, NABARD said, “NABARD has played an active role in this program by taking up various roles of policy advocacy, capacity building of the channel partners and banks. It has also assisted in extending support for promotion of groups, nurturing Self Help Promotion Institutes and collaborating with NRLM. We are aware of the need for product innovations here and the need for leveraging digital technology to ensure that SHGs realize their full potential. ESHAKTI, our latest initiative, is a step in that direction.”

Smt. Anjuly Chib Duggal, Secretary, Department of Financial Services also spoke on the occasion and stressed upon the positive impact which synergy between NABARD and SIDBI can bring around in the fields of occupational and entrepreneurial training besides financial literacy and market outreach among these groups.

Shri H R Dave, NABARD’s DMD in his address assured the FM that NABARD will continue engaging itself vigorously with the SHG bank linkage program which is not only the largest micro finance program in the world but also the largest in terms of number of partners engaged.

A commemorative memoir book “25 years of SHG Movement” and a report on “Status of Micro Finance in India 2017” were also released at the occasion followed by thematic discussion on “SHG Bank Linkage Programme- Giant Leap in Women Empowerment & Financial Inclusion” where the leading Microfinance practitioners and bankers were the speakers.