The Baroda Gujarat Gramin Bank (BGGB), sponsored by Bank of Baroda is committed to inclusive economic growth through rural development to bring up standards of living of rural society. Following its motto of ‘reaching out to the unreached’, the bank started a Mega Financial Literacy Drive ‘500 Street Plays in 500 Villages’ between 15 April 2015-31 December 2015. It decided to cover Sub Service Areas (SSAs) and create awareness about financial literacy among different strata of tribal / backward rural masses.
BGGB joined hands with M/s Kalamunch Acting Academy (renowned name in Rajkot since 2007), to conduct the drive and spread the message through street plays. The script was framed/edited by B R Patel, Chairman of the bank as per its requirements. It was modified from time-to-time with introduction of new schemes as announced by the government and the bank. The main focus of street plays was general banking; introduction of Banking Correspondent and Banking Facilitator (BC/BF); benefits of PMJDY, PMJJBY, PMSBY, APY and Mudra; importance of Aadhaar seeding with bank; importance of mobile number registration; importance of RuPay debit card and Kisan Credit Card; crop loan; crop insurance; retail loan; advantages of paying loan on-time; and, sanitation under Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM). Interestingly, the ills of smoking, drinking and tobacco were also talked about. The idea was to de-addict people and encourage them to open bank accounts from the money saved therefrom.
- The maximum focus of the drive was on mobilising low-cost deposits; going aggressive on qualitative lending – particularly agriculture and allied activities;
- Encouraging micro entrepreneurship and SMEs;
- Accelerating the process of financial inclusion through micro finance; increasing the net profit by arresting revenue leakage, recovery in written off accounts and curtailing avoidable expenses while increasing non-interest income; and,
- Bringing down gross NPAs by recovery and slippage prevention.
Needless to say that the bank was able to create more visibility for itself and created awareness about financial products and banking with little effort and that too in an entertaining manner. People from all age groups enjoyed participating in the street plays.
The bank was able to reach out to over 200,000 rural folks across 14 districts of middle and South Gujarat. The impact assessment conducted by the bank revealed that people across villages enjoyed participating and were inclined towards the financial products, which otherwise was not very easily welcome. More than 250 people including school children, teachers, women, senior citizens participated in each and every play on a regular basis.
- Consumer base has grown.
- Increase in CASA deposits.
- Awareness about financial literacy through innovation.
- Transactions with BC increased as people turned more aware about the use of BC channel.
- Situation on NPA recovery improved.
- There were instances where people were involved in drinking, smoking and chewing tobacco. They were encouraged to give up these habits and save money. This resulted in not only people giving up addiction but also opening up of several new bank accounts.
- Better visibility for the bank.
BGGB, uniquely used the method of street play to convey the message of financial inclusion through financial literacy—becoming the first Regional Rural Bank (RRB) in the country to undertake such a campaign— something that has been emulated by many others now. Street play has proven to be an effective method of conveying the message, which is both entertaining and informative and not limited to the elderly; included children and women as well.
In order to serve the newly created demand and serve its customers better, the bank opened 14 new branches in 7 districts in a single day.
These initiatives have not only been appreciated by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), NABARD and Bank of Baroda but also made it to the Limca Book of Records in 2016.