Inside BharatATM’s financial inclusivity programme

Launched in 2020 by Mahagram, BharatATM is a financial platform that helps kiranas and neighbourhood retail stores offer banking services to customers.
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Hello Readers, 

In rural India, finance for women is still restricted to self-help groups, many of which have disbanded over the years due to negligence and a lack of substantial efforts to engage women in microfinance.

To remedy that and engage women in finance, neobank BharatATM launched a programme in March, called ‘Bank Sakhi’ (sakhi means female friend).

What the startup does is essentially identify women in small towns and villages, partner with them, and onboard them on the BharatATM platform so they can start offering its services, such as withdrawal/deposits, bill payments, etc., from either their kirana stores, if they have one, or at people’s doorsteps.

So far, the company has enrolled around 11,230 women in the programme, across India. It piloted the project in Odisha, where it enrolled around 230 women in the programme.

But, why is BharatATM focussing on women?

Ram Shriram, CEO and Co-founder of Mahagram, the parent company of BharatATM, tells YourStory that even in households where men are sole earners, it’s women who handle most of the money in terms of expenditures related to grocery shopping and running the house. 

“We realised if we could enrol a few women and got them a savings account, they would help other women start their own accounts too,” Ram tells YourStory


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