Kolkata: At least Rs900 crore is expected to flow into Bandhan-Konnagar, a non-profit and the forebear of Bandhan Bank, from the World Bank and three state governments over the next five years as the organisation scales up its poverty alleviation initiatives to benefit at least 300,000 families.

Founded by Chandra Shekhar Ghosh, managing director of Bandhan Bank, as the vehicle through which he made tiny working capital loans until he transferred the business to a non-banking financial company, Bandhan-Konnagar helps underprivileged women to acquire skills to start their own businesses.

A registered society, Bandhan-Konnagar was founded in 2001. Its micro-credit business carved out in 2009, following which it has focused exclusively on poverty alleviation. It started two trusts—Financial Inclusion Trust and North East Financial Inclusion Trust—which indirectly own substantial minority stake in Bandhan Bank.

Apart from the World Bank, the local governments of Rajasthan, Bihar and Jharkhand have committed to fund Bandhan-Konnagar’s programme titled Targeting Hardcore Poor, or THP, under which the organisation spends at least Rs30,000 on an underprivileged family over two years, according to Ghosh, who is a mentor at the non-profit.

Many of these people are so poor that they do not qualify even for micro-credit, he said, adding that the aim of THP programme is to impart training and turn at least one woman from each of these families into a bread-earner. The programme was launched in 2006 with a World Bank funding of $25,000, and has till now benefitted some 70,000 families, according to Ghosh.

The programme is currently under implementation in nine states: Assam, West Bengal, Bihar, Jharkhand, Odisha, Telengana, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Tripura covering some 1,543 villages, according Bandhan-Konnagar’s latest annual report, which lists among other donors to the programme companies such as ITC Ltd and Interglobe Aviation Ltd.

Bandhan Bank will also contribute 2% of its profits for social initiatives of the non-profit. The dividend earned by the two trusts of Bandhan-Konnagar are also utilised under different programmes. The non-profit is currently setting up 20 high schools in as many districts of West Bengal. It currently runs around 3,100 primary schools, providing free education to around 100,000 students.

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