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Khushboo Sharma

IWB Blogger

Uttam Tibrewal Tells Us How AU Small Finance Bank Is Striving To Make Banking More Inclusive For Women

  • IWB Post
  •  August 21, 2018

Earlier this month when we marched along the streets of Jaipur for our Vocal Streets campaign, our hearts were singing in joy as we reclaimed the streets of Jaipur for our womenfolk.

With ‘Vocal Streets,’ IWB provided a platform to the women of Jaipur to share their stories of street harassment. We also roped in Jaipur Police Force as we went ahead in our pursuit of the vocal Jaipur streets, the kind of streets where no act of harassment against women should go ignored. The Police helped us raise awareness about street harassment, laws pertaining to it and inculcating a sense of confidence in these women.

For the second leg of the campaign, after conducting extensive research, polls and personal interactions, we signposted the most unsafe streets in Jaipur and then raised our battle cry against them. Our aim was to visit these places accompanied by the Jaipur Police and sing a song of empowerment (the ‘Vocal Street’ anthem), both literal and metaphorical.

SFS, being voted as one of the most unsafe areas in Jaipur, became a natural selection for the shooting of our first ‘Vocal Street’ anthem i.e. ‘Confident’ by Demi Lovato, covered by our star singer Komal Panwar. Here is the full song, if you haven’t already checked it out yet:

Indian Women Blog

Wooohooo, are you ready for the head spin? Exhale, we are releasing cover song ‘Confident’ by Demi Lovato. Our campaign #VOCALSTREETS, in collaboration with Jaipur Police is creating #awareness…

Our partners for the campaign, AU Small Finance Bank backed us in pursuing the big goal – safety on Indian streets.

An interaction with Mr. Uttam Tibrewal, Executive Director of AU Small Finance Bank made us realise how the bank is striving to make the banking experience more inclusive for women. They told us, “As a bank, we do not differentiate whether our customer is a man or a woman.”

Here are excerpts from the interaction:

How is your bank working for women’s empowerment in India?

We become a banking partner in the growth story of our customers irrespective of their gender. In the past two decades of our experience, many women entrepreneurs chose to partner with us as we empowered them to make their decisions and whole-heartedly supported their business endeavors. Our lending decisions are made on the potential of the business, not on the gender of the borrower.

Please tell us about the special plans and schemes that AU small finance offers to women?

In the last 21 years as an NBFC, we realized that distinct categories of customers have distinct needs and the best way to serve them is by providing tailor-made solutions for each section. With this approach, we have empowered many women entrepreneurs to not only become self-sustainable but also generate employment for others and positively contribute to our nation’s economy. Now, as a bank too, we want to provide our women customers solutions that are specially meant for them. In this line, we have already started offering special Savings Account for them called Tejaswini. Besides monthly interest payout, this account offers them the advantage of preferential pricing and the convenience of family banking.

How are you sensitizing your staff when attending to women customers? 

All our sales staff and the service staff at our bank branches go through a rigorous training before they start interacting with customers. Soft skills training forms an important part of this as it sensitizes them on dealing with different kind of customers. Besides, they are regularly provided refresher training on customer dealing to upgrade themselves.

Does your bank offer any programs to educate and better inform women about the nuances of banking so as to make it easier and a hassle-free experience for them?

Making banking accessible to all is a national agenda and both RBI and the Government of India are making focused efforts in that direction. As a bank that has traditionally served a large section of the unbanked and under-served population, we take it upon us to spread awareness on how people can benefit from banking. Therefore, every month we conduct financial literacy camps in unbanked and underbanked areas and encourage more and more people, including women, to participate in these camps. Invitations are extended to all the panchayat members so that more people would participate. At these camps, besides sharing information on the basics of banking, people are encouraged to open bank accounts and associate with formal banking channel. From Oct 2017 to March 2018, we have already conducted over 60 such camps.

Owing to lack of understanding and confidence, when it comes to women who are homemakers, they almost always approach family for loans (and not the banks) to start small enterprises. How can banks be more women customer-friendly to enable women to venture into businesses?

Banks need to see women as potential customers and start approaching more and more women. The executives might need to spend some time to make them understand the benefits of borrowing from a bank, the cost advantage and transparency of the system. As an NBFC, we have observed that once we build a rapport with women entrepreneurs, they keep coming back to us for all their financial requirements. This way it is a win-win for both.

How active is your bank in closing the gender gap in employment? How does your bank encourage women to break glass ceilings in the banking sector?

AU Bank is an equal opportunity employer, providing a collaborative and rewarding platform to all its employees irrespective of their gender. A candidate’s suitability for any role in AU Bank is decided based on their caliber, experience and qualification only. Having said that, we are mindful of maintaining a good balance of both genders in our team.

Image for representational purposes only.

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