What is generally known about the Export-Import Bank of India (or, Exim Bank) is its role in providing businesses with overseas investment finance, project finance, and line of credit. For instance, the latest press release on the bank’s site is about the $144 million line of credit to the Government of the Republic of Liberia, for power transmission and distribution project.Importantly, the bank is also working with small entrepreneurs and NGOs, under a programme called Grassroots Initiative and Development (GRID), informs T. C. A. Ranganathan, Chairman and MD, Exim Bank, during a brief interaction with YourStory. “What we do for handloom and handicraft units is to work with them to make their product exportable, by assisting in technology, packaging, and presentation, through workshops and study groups with experts in that field,” he adds.
The latest annual report of the bank speaks of a Memorandum of Cooperation (MOC) with the Rural Technology and Business Incubator (RTBI), an incubator cell in the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras Research Park, to evaluate and support organisations at their nascent stage for improving rural livelihood. “RTBI facilitates rural-inclusive technology and business innovation in India and is registered as a not-for-profit society. Exim Bank’s MOC with RTBI would pave the path for the Bank to support companies doing innovative work in the rural sector, whose potential have been evaluated by an expert group.”
The annual report mentions a few GRID initiatives, including support to the following:
- A weavers' cooperative in West Bengal, manufacturing and exporting handloom products like saris and dress materials.
- A trust, which is into production of appliquéd garments, hand-embroidered accessories, etc., in the Bhuj region of Gujarat.
- An organisation based in Bangalore, producing handicraft and handloom products, for setting up of a Common Facility Centre (CFC) in Channapatana Crafts Park.
- The Ants Craft Trust, Bangalore, and Omkar Arts and Crafts Association, Goa, for a Design Development and Training Workshop for 30 women artisans in developing creative and modern designs for coconut shell craft. “The workshop was organised in association an organisation working with around 1000 women artisans… Training was imparted for developing new design prototypes, better packaging of finished products as well as pricing of these products. During the workshop, 20 innovative designs were developed,” the report notes.
“If anyone is interested in benefiting from GRID, they are welcome,” says Ranganathan.