“You can’t even sign,” said the educated woman from across the bank counter. Pyaarelal knew that after being rejected by the seventh bank he had approached, he now, had nowhere to go.
Until a couple of years ago, like most villagers, Pyaarelal did not have a bank account - primarily, because he didn’t know how to and secondly, because no one would open one for him. However, four years ago, Pyaarelal became eligible for a social security pension, which needed him to open a bank account to receive the funds.
In April 2013, word spread that a group of people from the city were opening bank accounts in Pyaarelal’s village. He headed to what looked like a big green and blue counter, with a hoarding that read ‘Grahak Seva Kendra - powered by FIA’, assured that he was in for another rejection. Imagine his surprise, when a woman at the counter offered to open a bank account, that very instance, in his name.
“Mera khata khul gaya,” smiled Pyaarelal, as he blessed the FIA team who had now gathered around him, as excited as he was, about their first bank account.
Ever since, set up by an enterprising team, with an expertise in the banking sector, have traveled from state to state, impacting people at a micro-level. Having covered 29 states, their passion to tap into the unbanked sector, in India and to see every Indian has a bank account of his own, seems to be falling into place...