Rarely do we see a public sector bank undertaking an out-of-the-box initiative. But Chennai-headquartered Indian Bank appears to have shown the way that public sector banks can go beyond the business of lending and do their bit to support micro and small entrepreneurs.
Indian Bank has always been a frontrunner in MSME (micro, small and medium enterprise) lending, with credit exposure of over ₹68,800 crore and has several schemes for these entities.
A huge impact
But its unique MSME Prerana, an online training and business mentoring programme in local dialects using simple terminologies, has created a huge impact on small entrepreneurs at a time when MSMEs are grappling with various issues such as closure of units, disruption in delivery schedules, payable and receivables.
MSME Prerana has unleashed a new wave of confidence among small entrepreneurs to equip themselves in financial statement analysis, filing of returns, and various skill sets required to handle the business professionally to overcome the crisis.
Lack of information about various financial products, services and schemes deprive MSMEs of benefits offered to them. MSME Prerana, launched by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman in October 2020, seeks to address the information asymmetry that improves credit access and overall quality in the lending space.
“For entrepreneurs, the USP of this ‘Prerana’ initiative has been that it is a simple, jargon-free learning aid available in their local language and at their place of choice, being an online programme. Especially for women and SC/ST entrepreneurs, we have made it completely free with the bank sponsoring them,” says Padmaja Chunduru, Managing Director and CEO, Indian Bank.
The web training programme has been customised as per the requirement of entrepreneurs and various sectors such as textiles, automobile, food processing and leather industries in Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh. It also highlights the special schemes/ initiatives taken by the Central and State governments, RBI and banks.
With knowledge partner Poornatha & Co, which has done many programmes for small entrepreneurs, Indian Bank has designed the content, involving experts from both sides. This is a two-week programme and entrepreneurs have to spend 1-1.30 hours a day during this period. A series of 10 virtual programmes have been successfully conducted in Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh. With strong positive feedback to the programme, the bank is expanding it to more languages and to more states.
To undergo expansion
MSME Prerana will be rolled out in other States such as Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Gujarat and Maharashtra this month. “On April 9, we are rolling out in Andhra Pradesh; we have covered more than 600 entrepreneurs through this programme so far,” said PC Dash, Programme Adviser.
Indian Bank has developed a webpage on ‘MSME Prerana’ for establishing an integrated business information solution network that links all relevant State and Central level information sources in one platform.