What began as a microfinance group has now transformed into a small finance bank with its footprints across Indian metros. It is none other than Bengaluru’s Ujjivan Small Finance Bank Limited. A subsidiary of Ujjivan Financial Services Limited, there’s no stopping the small finance banking institution that forayed into the banking sector in the age of demonetisation in February.

Ujjivan kicked off its journey in West Bengal back in 2007 as a micro finance group and has expanded its presence with 53 branches across 18 districts in the state. It has started off its banking operations in Kolkata with five small finance banks and ATM branches on 28 April. The small finance bank has opened around 25 ATM outlets all over the country and is targeting to fund one-third of its portfolio by deposits. It has posted a growth of 35 per cent on its total income.

Samit Ghosh, managing director and chief executive officer, Ujjivan Small Finance Bank Limited said, “Our customers in the microfinance segment primarily belong to the unorganised sector, which was largely impacted by demonetisation. Many of our customers lost jobs and were badly hit. Bengaluru has a number of workers employed in garment factories who were badly hit by the move. Workers employed in the unorganised sectors in Uttar Pradesh have also fallen on hard times owing to the effects of demonetisation. With elections coming to an end, there has been a significant turnaround in the economic situation from March.” However, Ujjivan has a limited exposure in the Vidarbha region of Maharashtra.

Based on access and trust, the small finance bank has set up multifarious channels across the country.The banking group has come up with its premier unbanked centre in Rajarhat in Bengal. Abhiroop Chatterjee, head of microfinance and branch banking, Ujjivan Small Finance Bank Limited, said, “We have 26 unbanked centres in the remote recesses of the eastern zone. Our microfinance group is present across seven major towns with 12 branches in North Bengal including Siliguri, Alipur Duar, Cooch Behar, Malda, Jalpaiguri and Kaliagunj in the district of North Dinajpur. We plan to set up 53 unbanked rural centres across the length and breadth of the country sometime this fiscal, out of which 26 will be in West Bengal. We are looking ahead to convert 23 microfinance branches in West Bengal into small finance banks.”

The small finance bank has a commendable presence in Bengal among all the eastern states of India. Chattejee said, “We are contemplating to transform our three micro finance set-ups into small finance bank in Siliguri, Malda and Balurghat in the current year and the remaining microfinance entities in North Bengal will be converted next year.”