Ramgarh, Jharkhand: In the hilly terrain of the region, a visit to bank entailed a whole day's work and travel expenses. Mato Devi, 50 tells us, "earlier we would have to leave our homes in the morning if we had bank work. After walking a fair distance, we would take some public transport. After reaching the bank we would have to stand in line for hours before our turn came. Sometimes the server would be down and we would return, hungry and thirsty, after having wasted the whole day and money." She smiles as she looks towards Saraswati, the ATM Didi,
"Ever since the Micro ATM has come the whole village blesses her. When ever we have any bank work we knock on her door and our work is done within minutes."
Under this scheme, women from the Sakhi Mandals are being trained as Bank Sakhis, Bank correspondent agents and Micro ATM Didis. These women deliver bank services at the door step. From depositing and withdrawing money to availing government schemes that are linked to banks, these women are taking banking services to remote areas of the state. With help from JSLPS, these women are increasing financial inclusion and delivering government schemes while earning a living.
Micro ATM Didi Saraswati Mahto walks between 8 and 10 km a day to reach her outlying villages to ensure no one is financially excluded. She tells us, "Whenever the villagers see me,they hail me by name. Now if someone falls sick, they no longer have to wait to go to the bank to get money for medicines etc. Old people who can no longer walk get their pensions at home. People with children studying in the cities can transfer money to them from home itself if the need arises. We can transfer or withdraw money and recharge phones with just a click!"
Shasta Khanum of the Littipara Block says, "I am a member of the Shanti Self Help Group. I joined in 2015 and I have learned a lot since then. I also kept up with my education. I have now become a Micro ATM Didi. "
Saraswati Didi withdraws between Rs50,000 and Rs.90,000 a day from her portable ATM. In April 2018, Rs. 9 crore, 18 lakhs were withdrawn using portable ATMs across the state. Lakhs of people across the state are using these ATMs for their financial needs. According to Brijlal, Chairman of the Jharkhand Grameen Bank, "Ever since members of the Sakhi Mandals have become Bank Correspondents the business of banks has gone up. More and more villagers are availinggovernment schemes. Over the last three months, the Bank Correspondents agents have facilitated 10,567 transactions worth Rs. 3 crores 92 lakhs. They go from door to door in very remote areas connecting people. This has increased business for banks while reducing costs."
The Sakhi Mandals in every village are informed about the selection of the Micro ATM Didi. The criteria for selection are that they must be an active member of the group and need to have studied at least up to the 10th standard. After this they are given a basic test at the Block level where they are tested for General Knowledge, multiplication and division, and some simple banking related questions. Once they pass the test, they undergo a three-day residential training. These Didis can earn up to Rs 3000 from this scheme.