Mr. S.S. Bhatt has been the chief general manager of Canara Bank for the last 33 years. He looks after the priority credit financial inclusions as well as CSR initiatives.
He narrates to us, his experiences working on the Thimmaiyanadoddi project.
“Corporate Social Responsibilities is in the DNA of Canara bank. We have been doing CSR activities since 1906 when the bank was established. The founder of Canara bank, who has been a supporter of the lower caste and the people of weaker sections said, ‘A good bank is not only a commercial heart of a community, but also the social heart.’ Accordingly, he made the bank interested in common people’s causes and found ways to help them. These ethos have been continued in Canara Bank over the years. Year after year, we all work towards developing the CSR concepts.
The bank has been taking up CSR initiatives in fields of education, health, family welfare and many other areas. The development of villages has been one of the great initiatives. Many of our initiatives are associated with villages, where we have helped with development. These interventions have happened with the help of other banks and NGO’s in the field too.
Thimmaiyanadoddi village, near Bangalore, is a hamlet with about 60 families. It was quite a backward village. When Nivasa came up with a development plan for the village, Canara bank was really interested in associating with Nivasa in creating good infrastructure in the village and also to make sure that the interventions required for the development is supported by Canara Bank. A preliminary survey was conducted in the village. A gap assessment was also made in the village in the study.
As the name suggests, Nivasa was working towards building houses for the people there. They encouraged the people to decide to build new houses through the funding arrangement. Canara Bank wanted to support this initiative by giving support for laying out roads, drainage systems, water harvesting systems, drinking water supply, and some non-credit interventions like supporting the children through education, building a community hall for the meeting of village people and the women there. We also wanted to identify the unemployed youth and women providing them with some skill-based training to take up self-employment ventures.
Over time, we noticed many development changes in the village. In December 2014, new houses, water tanks, central road with drainage, water harvesting system were all constructed and set up. The community hall, an important part of the village, was complete and provided the village with a place to meet. It also provides space for workshops and programmes organised for the children by volunteers. We also provided computers in the school for computer education for the children.
Providing support for infrastructure alone in a village is not sufficient. There should be some growth in the village so that the people find ways to get income through a productive venture. In order to do that, we provided farmers with the right credit facility. We identified entrepreneurship among the women, trained them in some activities (candle making, tailoring, etc.) We have a self-employment training institute exclusively for women in Harohalli where these women were trained by expert faculty. There was an arrangement made, wherein the women were connected to a merchant in Bangalore, so that whatever they make is sold easily and they get their income.”
Watch the remainder of the interview in the video.