Monday, August 14, 2017

SBI Gram Seva to focus on 500 Villages for Digital Inclusion

          State Bank of India top management today announced the launch of a new CSR initiative. SBI Foundation – the CSR arm of State Bank of India is the implementation partner of this initiative.

          The ultimate goal of SBI Gram Seva is to transform the adopted villages into model villages through adoption of digital tools.  Through digital infrastructure it is hoped that the villagers in adopted villages will be able to make complete use of various Government schemes. SBI will not directly fund any schemes; rather it will be an enabler for various government schemes.

          In the coming days, complete details will be available on SBI foundation website. Do drop in at SBI Foundation for more details.

          “SBI has adopted villages in the past but there was no focus on holistic development or sustainability. The projects were left to the branch managers and after we exited, the villages slipped back. But Gram Seva changes this,” said SBI chairperson Arundhati Bhattacharya.

          "The reason why we undertook this initiative is threefold. One is to ensure it is holistic, sustainable and we want to ensure that we do it in collaboration," Chairman Arundhati Bhattacharya told reporters.

          “Our job is to offer banking services. Therefore, we shall only be looking to fill the gaps in the village infrastructure in cooperation with NGOs. We will be using Human Development Index as an indicator to measure development of villages of the next 3 years,” Bhattacharya said.

          The main areas of intervention under SBI GRAM SEVA are health, education, environment, women empowerment, livelihood, skill development, and developing the infrastructure. As far as possible the project will use government funds for the development activities. But if the need arises, the SBI would step in for funding support.

According to MK Rekhi, head, SBI Foundation, the main goal of the project was to link specific government schemes to individuals and to lay emphasis on digital concept and to involve the Panchayat village staff. "The programme operations cost is expected to be around Rs 2.40 crore per gram panchayat over a period of three years. The target is to cover at least 100 gram panchayats in three years," he said.

The bank has started a pilot in 10 gram panchayats across six villages—Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Jharkhand Bihar and Assam. “We are looking to develop a replicable, scalable and sustainable model of development for villages,” said Bhattacharya.

"There are 1 lakh gram panchayats we cannot cover all of them but we can create a model which other institutions can follow. This will be an ideal platform for ladies club across the country to make a contribution," said Rajnish Kumar, managing director of SBI.

The project -- SBI Gram Seva -- marks a sharp departure from the bank's earlier approach. For one, the bank has decided to partner small local NGOs who are involved in ground-level work in each of the villages rather than going for pan-India entities. In the past, the focus was on individual villages while under the Gram Seva project, the bank will now adopt a cluster approach by partnering Gram Panchayat's that cover five to six villages.

Another big change is the focus on digitisation and bridging the gap between government services and the villages. Rather than spend money on infrastructure, the bank will provide digital infrastructure and hand holding support to enable the villages avail benefits of different government schemes and thereby covert each village into a smart village.

The aim of the project is to link the specific government schemes to the individual in the villages.

A sub-section on SBI Foundation will be beneficial to keep abreast of the progress of the adopted villagers. Such a sub-section will also encourage other organisations to learn from the lessons and fine-tune them.