BWDA Finance Limited: Driving Financial Inclusion for Underprivileged People
Mobilization and circulation of finance is the primary requirement of development of an economy. In the current scenario, financial institutions are the robust pillars of progress, economic growth, and development of the economy. Financial Inclusion is one of the fastest growing socio-economic sectors in India that aims to provide financial services at affordable costs to the underprivileged people. Access to safe, easy and affordable credit and other financial services for the poor and vulnerable groups are the key factors in accelerating the growth and reducing income disparities and poverty.
With the vision to develop poverty free, prosperous, equitable and sustainable society, BWDA Finance Limited (BFL) works for the financial inclusion of low-income households. Bullock-cart Workers Development Association (BFL’s parent NGO), was one of the pioneers of the Self Help Group (SHG) movement in Tamil Nadu. It was founded with the primary objective of rendering selfless, dedicated and yeomen service to bullock cart workers, laborers, rural artisans, poor and needy women and children in the regions of Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Pondicherry, and Andaman & Nicobar Islands. BWDA believes in the holistic development of its beneficiaries. Presently, BFL undertakes microfinance operations while BWDA focuses on the development activities and projects.
Distinctive Financial and Capacity Building Services
BFL offers market-oriented financial services and other credit plus services to improve financial inclusion and access for low-income households, who are marginalized and unbanked. BFL facilitates access to a bouquet of formal financial services such as savings, credit, remittance, pension, and insurance. BFL primarily provides services to beneficiaries through the SHG model. Additionally, it caters to JLGs (Joint Liability Groups) as well as individuals.
BFL offers various loan products to meet the credit requirements for livelihood activities, income generating programs, microenterprises, education expenses, medical expenses and consumption needs of the client. It also facilitates water credit to ensure safe drinking water and hygienic sanitation to its beneficiaries. The Widows and Destitute Welfare initiative links the most stigmatized women in the society to skilling and credit to set up and run their own microenterprises.
BFL firmly believes that financial inclusion i.e. delivery of financial services at affordable cost to low-income segments of society and the linking of the poor to mainstream financial services coupled with the capacity building are the key factors of empowerment. BFL spreading its roots in BWDA facilitates for holistic development of beneficiaries and works with BWDA to contribute in 14 out of the 17 United Nations’ sustainable development goals.
An Ingenious Leader of BWDA
“Without hard work, no fruit can be expected”
Dr. Joslin Thambi, the Founder and Managing Director have been a model of hard work, simplicity, and perseverance for the society. BWDA had its humble beginning in 1985 with a cycle, a typewriter, Rs.2500 and a passionate 28-year old who wanted to empower the marginalized people. Hailing from a family as the 8th child, whose prime breadwinner was a bullock-carter and experiencing the turmoil first hand, Joslin wanted to work for the empowerment of bullock-cart workers. His contributions are well balanced, shaping the underprivileged society with holistic development. Today, through various initiatives, Joslin’s efforts have empowered 5.4 million beneficiaries.
Successful Journey over the Years
Bullock-cart Workers Development Association (BWDA) was established on 2nd October 1985 by Dr. Joslin Thambi and was registered in 1986 under the Tamil Nadu Societies Registration. In 1988, BWDA started forming Self Help Groups (SHGs) of bullock cart workers’ families to build self-sufficiency and facilitate poverty alleviation. In 1992, BWDA started working with other low-income households and also linked SHGs to local banks to meet their credit needs for managing their livelihood and income-generating activities. Later in 1999, BWDA started direct lending to improve access to finance to empower the underprivileged in Tamil Nadu, Pondicherry, and Andaman & Nicobar Islands and to supplement loans from banks.
In 2003, BWDA acquired an NBFC, renamed as BWDA Finance Limited (BFL) to streamline its financial inclusion operations. BWDA resumed lending activities under the Business Correspondent Model in 2012 in partnership with Yes Bank. BWDA works as the BC of Yes Bank, IDBI and SBI to facilitate financial inclusion of members. BFL has two well know institutional investors, SIDBI and Dia Vikas and caters to member needs through direct lending and an esteemed business associate partnership with SBI.
Making the World a Better Place with its Strong Initiatives
BWDA has a member base of 36,221 Self Help Groups and JLGs with 6,09,559 members. BWDA has facilitated credit linkage of INR 1386.78 Crores to 1, 29,212 groups with 15,34,723 members. The B-WASH (BWDA Water Sanitation and Hygiene) Program has developed 8767 toilets and 2829,935 water connections by facilitating water credit of INR. 3514.41 lakhs.
Empowerment is collective and it is done through empowering the women of the family first, followed by children and other household members. BWDA and BFL are working for the holistic development of the household. Financial inclusion caters to members’ financial needs. The company’s health programs create awareness, access to basic health services and dedicated access for TB. The company’s child welfare program rescues children in danger and creates awareness on child protection through the Childline initiative, provides summer learning avenues for rural children. BWDA’s BWaaSH programs provide access to low-cost water credit for development of water connections and toilets.
BWDA’s education initiatives offer formal education through two schools and two colleges. Furthermore, the company’s senior citizen program empowers the aged people. Women empowerment programs offer capacity building, widows and destitute welfare, livelihood development, microenterprise development, access to fair priced goods.
BWDA’s relief and rehabilitation program supports low-income households in dire situations like floods, fires, and other natural calamities. The animal welfare program caters to the needs of our member’s livestock. There are also many other programs that address almost all requirements of our beneficiaries.
Converting Challenges into Opportunities