Signs of higher women empowerment are evident in bank loan numbers as well. The number of female borrowers have almost trebled in the last five years . These have been mostly small ticket loans by women from bottom of the pyramid for a variety of small businesses and other self-employable avenues say experts which have become a part of banking sector loan portfolio with the emergence of small finance banks which have a significant MFI portfolio who have large exposure to women borrowers.
The number of women borrowers have gone up from 2.4 crore in March 2014 to 7.8 crore in March 2020, while the amount outstanding has gone up from Rs 3.8 lakh crore to Rs 9 lakh crore in the same period, according to the latest data released by the Reserve Bank in its publication, Basic Statistical Returns.
Besides loans for agriculture, these loans are essentially for small businesses, kirana stores, food stall, catering, self employment or even home and vehicle purchases say bankers. Going by the numbers, it is evident that most of these loans are small ticket loans by women. Banks on their own have a small exposure to small loans to women through their exposure to micro-finance lending. But since 2014, a new category of banks called ` Small Finance Banks’ have become a part of India’s banks which have small sized exposure.
” The principal reason is that over the last five-six years, a number of large microfinance organisations have got converted into scheduled commercial banks either through a new universal bank or small finance bank license or by way of a merger with an existing bank” said Sonali Kulkarni, Managing Director and Client Group Lead – Financial Services, Accenture in India.“ Typically, a significant proportion of micro-lending customers are women borrowers.” Share of women borrowers to total borrowers stood at 26% as on Sep-19, up from 21% in Sep-13, according to credit bureau Transunion Cibil.
It is perceived to be a sign of women empowerment. “It is a promising indicator of the evolution of India’s credit market which has enabled increased economic opportunities for women borrowers” said Harshala Chandorkar, COO, TransUnion CIBIL ” There is much scope and opportunity for the financial industry to customize credit solutions for women borrowers both on retail and MSME credit. Insights and data based digital solutions for customizing credit products as well as channeling these products to deserving borrowers will hold the key to improving financial inclusion”
Even, awareness and credit consciousness amongst these women borrowers has also improved with self-monitoring women consumers growing by 62% between 2018 and 2019. This is twice the growth rate of self-monitoring male consumers -30%, a report by Transunion Cibil said.