Financial inclusion refers to equal availability and accessibility to financial products and services at affordable prices. However, just providing access to these products and services, intending to integrate them into the formal banking structure, isn’t going to solve the ever-growing gap in financial inclusion.
Despite the growing inclination toward bringing about financial inclusion through digital banking, there exist gaps that prevent this kind of inclusion a reality. Between 2014 and 2017, the ownership of accounts rose by at least 30%. However, it is surprising that, at 48 %, India has the highest percentage of inactive bank accounts. Of those people who have a bank account, only 7% of the population use it to save money (Global Findex Report, 2017). We also observed in our interactions with the community members that a majority of the population is sceptical about banks and prefers storing money at home. They are not aware of the different products and services provided by banks. We live in a world where we have access to all the information at the click of a button. Financial advisors, internet ads, and social media influencers are available 24*7 to give us an overload of information to allow us to make the right financial decision. However, the rural poor are yet again left behind. Not only do they not know about the right financial options for them, but they also are lost when they seek out this information. With the world moving rapidly towards banking and digitization, it becomes all the more important for us to ensure that this population is not left behind.
Lack of financial awareness and knowledge:
The 2008 global financial crisis was instrumental in bringing about the importance of financial literacy to the forefront. One of the main ways banks, financial institutions and other organisations have responded to the lack of financial awareness, is through financial literacy camps. Often focused on targeted messages to open bank accounts, and avail of specific financial products, these camps are often a one-off sessions, promoting the bank and its services. Important financial training catering to an individual or household’s financial needs and goals are often, if not never, discussed in these sessions. Communities, therefore, end up availing of products that may have limited application in their lives. Since these camps tend to be held at remote locations that lack access to a bank branch, adoption and usage tend to be low.
To address this gap, we are planning to relaunch Swabhimaan- Rang De’s Financial Literacy Initiative. The Swabhimaan program was launched in 2017 to provide women with access to financial literacy and awareness and bring about a behavioural change in the way they manage their finances and make important financial decisions for their households. While this program was limited to a few locations across the country, Rang De now aims at implementing this program across our impact partner communities. Delivered on an IVR platform, the self-learning modules will empower our investees with the knowledge required to adopt the usage of banking facilities, receive their loans and make on-time digital repayments by themselves. It will also educate them on how to make responsible credit decisions. Continuous training provided throughout the loan tenure of the investee, not only provides them with financial knowledge but also supports them through their repayment process. The platform is designed to become a one-stop shop for all financial literacy-related queries and support.
The platform is set to go live soon, enabling every investee on Rang De’s platform to make an informed decision regarding the loan that they avail. Do keep a lookout at this space for updates about the Swabhimaan program. To know more, reach out to email@example.com.