J.S. Parthiban is a bank manager with a government owned bank in India. He is currently posted at Salem, Tamil Nadu and was posted at New Delhi prior to that. In Delhi, he recognized the need to help free, beggars  and street vendors from the clutches of private money-lenders who charged exorbitant interest rates.

“There were no bank schemes designed exclusively for them. Yet many people were selling flowers, water, toys and other things on the streets. They earned 500-600 Rupees ($10-12) a day. But, they were ignorant in money management”

Mr. Parthiban took the initiative to educate them.

“It took time and a lot of patience to earn their confidence. I would stand by their side, observe them and start conversations. I showed my genuine concern to understand their lives and businesses.”

With great difficulty, he convinced them to open a bank account.

“It was difficult to open a bank account in those days. You needed many documents, such as the PAN (Permanent Account Number) card for tax purposes, ration cards and proof of residence. I made sure that my bank staff made them comfortable and that they understood how to open a savings account. In a few initial cases, I even took their personal guarantee. Their need was genuine and I took the risk.”

Due to his efforts, many street vendors are out of debt, and have a savings too.

“I remember a young man who sold cold water on the street for 50 paisa (half a rupee) per glass. He would earn anything from 600-700 Rupees ($12-14) per day and would have 20-25,000 Rupees ($405-505) in his pocket and did not know where to keep it. By the time I moved south to the state of Tamil Nadu in 2002, he had about two lakh Rupees [a lakh is equal to 100,000; so two lakh means 200,000 Rupees or $4,050] in his account and he had repaid his entire loans. He was free from worry and started spending quality time with his family.”

After being transferred to Salem, he has helped set-up several Self Help Groups for poor villagers.

“In one poor village I discovered families who were cutting trees for firewood and brewing illicit alcohol for their livelihoods. It was a life they despised but they knew no other way to make a living. Many of the husbands were alcoholics, making the life of the women and children a constant hardship. I convinced them to take a loan from the bank to buy buffalos and work hard to change their lives.

Today they are selling milk and converting buffalo dung into bio-gas. There is no more brewing in the village, and the cutting down of trees in the forest has stopped. They have already repaid their entire loan. Life for them has taken a complete U-turn for the better.”

Mr. Parthiban’s initiatives demonstrates how educating the street vendors and villagers in banking practices can be beneficial in transforming their lives. Thank you Mr. Parthiban, for going above and beyond your work as a bank manager. Read more at http://www.guardianweekly.co.uk/?page=editorial&id=1058&catID=9