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ASSOCHAM Ladies League held an interactive session on ‘How massive outreach of banking services can enable women entrepreneurship to flourish’ on February 11, 2014 where several women entrepreneurs and management students joined to listen to thought-provoking and informative speech by Usha Anathasubramanian, Chairman and Managing Director of Bharatiya Mahila Bank and Dr. Harbeen Arora, Global Chairperson, ASSOCHAM Ladies League. The objective was to highlight the need for banking among women. At the interactive session, Usha Anathsubramanian said, “Women are the most underutilized economic asset of our country”. Being the first ever bank of its kind Bharatiya Mahila Bank, predominantly caters to women and its branches are throbbing with activities. At the session, panelists and women entrepreneurs from different backgrounds raised some pertinent questions:
1. Since microfinance institutions provides microfinance products and services to low income group customers, Neena Prasad, Chief Representative, Singapore Exchange, said, “Listing of micro finance institutions should not take place.”
2. Referring to 44 million women who are oblivious of the banking sector, Usha Anathasubramanian said, “Financial literacy is very important.”
3. “We need to get over urban obsession” underlined Mathew Titus, Executive Director, Sa- Dhan. He referred to the large scale migration of rural population to urban centers. Specifically men from interiors move to cities in search of better livelihood, there is a huge feminization of rural India happening in this way. Women are the most abled workforce of our country, as they carry out farming activities in the absence of their husbands. As adept homemakers, they are continuously engaged in household works and take time out from their busy schedule for art works like weaving, sewing, drawing and many more.
The talk was followed by Q & A session; some interesting questions which keep resonating with the audience and had an impact on their minds are as follows:
1. Ms. Sangeeta Mehra, a woman entrepreneur posed a question on “how a bank can ensure working woman’s safety as well as sustainability of her business and family.” She inquired whether BMB is taking any holistic approach that works out well to secure both priorities of a woman entrepreneur. Her concern was that, a businesswoman can claim for life insurance at times when she suffers due to adverse health, but what about those lives which are associated with the business she runs.
2. Mansi Mahajan, Chapter Chairperson of Noida Chapter of ASSOCHAM Ladies League asked a question about the inconvenience of claiming loans. She said that she had faced some grave problems while she claimed loans. She had been through lots of paper works, but finally what comes to her was no less than a shock, she was refused to be given loan as she was unmarried and could not provide collaterals.