Bandhan Bank Is Born: Chandra Shekhar Ghosh’s Incredible Journey From a Sweet Shop to Owning a Bank
Thursday, June 18, 2015
In most Indian languages, the word Bandhan means bond or togetherness. His bond with the credit-deprived poor in Eastern India’s villages and a Rs 2 lakh loan were the initial capital for Chandra Shekhar Ghosh, the son of a small sweet-shop owner from Bengal, to begin a microfinance institution, Bandhan Financial Services Ltd, and grow it to a private bank in less than 15 years.
Bandhan Bank, India’s latest private lender, will be officially launched in Kolkata on 23 August. On the first day, the bank will have a loan book of Rs 11,000 crore, close to 600 branches, 10 million customers and a net worth of Rs 3,200 crore. That’s the kind of numbers good enough to generate envy for any banker in India and requires years of hard work to achieve.
“My commitment to the poor remains,” said Ghosh. “They continue to be my focus and the bank would offer more services to them.”
That’s precisely the idea the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has put forward as a prerequisite for permitting licences to third set of private banks in India — promotion of financial inclusion, and no one better than Ghosh, knows its true meaning.
More than half of India’s adult population is still unbanked.
For many existing private banks, promotion of financial inclusion is a mere obligation forced by regulation and, for some, a fancy word. But for Ghosh, serving the unbanked segments of the society has been the mission of his whole life.
Ghosh was born into a family of Bangladeshi refugees. Since his father had just his tiny sweet shop as the only source of income, Ghosh was raised with limited resources. Ghosh’s father struggled to give him good education, but some how managed to send the boy to Dhaka University to study statistics.