BOB to gear up microfinance operations

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Mumbai, Oct 2 (UNI) In order to boost up its nation-wide microfinancing operations, the public-owned Bank of Baroda (BOB) is planning to form a new entity within the Bank for microfinancing.

Initially, the Bank plans to open its microfinance services for the economically backward people through at least 350 branches in rural areas of the country, BOB Chairman Dr A K Khandelwal said.

Interacting with visiting reporters from Mumbai in Dungarpur, Dr Khandelwal said that the Bank is seriously planning to accelerate its microfinance activities from its branches in rural areas.

Dungarpur, one of the most backward districts in the country, has been adopted by the Bank on Monday, for its total integrated rural development and financial inclusion with combined efforts from the local administration, NGOs and Shelf Helping Groups.

Without revealing the time frame in which the Bank's microfinance project will become fully functional, Dr Khandelwal informed that his Bank has already opened a Centre of Microfinance in Jaipur and a Mamorandam of Understanding (MoU) with the Microfinance Centre of Rajasthan is on cards.

Apart from its ambitious plan of integrated rural development and financial inclusion, BoB will recruit 90 field microfinance staffers in the Dungarpur district alone where the adoption process is to be completed over a period of three years with a financial outlay of Rs 54.5 crore. ''For extending this service in other parts of the country the Bank has identified 350 thrust branches,'' Dr Khandelwal informed.

Stating that a public sector bank can not have a national face until and unless it includes both faces of the country that is the backward rural and the progressive urban population, he said, ''I believe that serving the poor and helping them in their empowerment is no more a loss incurring business and that is why we have taken microfinance in a serious way.'' UNI

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