New Member Spotlight: Equitas Small Finance Bank

Thursday 29th June 2023

Equitas Small Finance Bank (ESFB) is one of the 12 Small Finance Banks licensed by the Reserve Bank of India to focus on underserved segments. The bank has more than 25,000 Crores (about $274 million) in loans and deposits. With 20,000 employees, it operates over 900 banking outlets across 18 Indian states and Union Territories.

We spoke with Dheeraj Mohan, Head of Strategy, Investor Relations, Business Intelligence (BI) and Customer Experience (CX), about Equitas’ strategy to drive women’s financial inclusion and access to credit.

Alliance: For the benefit of our global readership, can you please share Equitas Bank’s market position and business model?

DM: Equitas Small Finance Bank is the second-largest Small Finance Bank in India in terms of total loans and deposits. ESFB focuses on mass affluent communities from Tier-1 and metro cities for deposits and other products and lends to aspiring entrepreneurs and small business owners from underserved segments.

Alliance: How have you tailored products to meet the needs of women customers?

DM: ESFB has specific products to fit women’s needs and preferences. For instance, most of our Micro Loans are held by women. These are offered as Joint Liability Group Loans and are specifically designed for self-employed women. The bank also has a dedicated “Eva” savings account for women depositors that includes salient features like telehealth consultations, discounts and rewards.

Alliance: You are building out a more comprehensive CVP for women. What will this include and how are you using data to build it?

DM: ESFB is planning to build and launch a wider array of products catering to women customers, such as a credit card designed exclusively for them and more loans for women SMEs. To help design these products, the bank is involved in a market study of the credit behaviors of women customers compared to overall credit behavior. We have complete sex-disaggregated data on certain loan products, and we’re also in the process of upgrading capabilities to identify women SMEs for other products.

Alliance: Digital financial services can help banks reach women—particularly low-income women. How is Equitas Bank leveraging technology to drive financial inclusion in this segment?

DM: The Equitas Sakthi App is exclusively designed and offered as Joint Group Loans for factory workers, many of whom are women. Factory workers can apply for the loan through the app, which speeds up the disbursement and collection process.

Alliance: What is ESFB doing to support its women employees?

DM: Creating a more diverse, equitable and inclusive work environment is a key strategic initiative for ESFB and its senior leadership. The bank is currently working with a global expert to shape its approach for successfully driving the D&I agenda and strengthening the representation of female employees.

Alliance: Why did you decide to join the Alliance, and what are you looking forward to learning from and/or sharing with the network?

DM: ESFB is looking forward to deepening its understanding and gaining insights in many areas, including novel ideas to build more women-centered financial products, best practices to attract more women customers, strategies to enhance women customers’ experiences and using the Alliance’s database to drive success.