As a part of its financial inclusion plan, public sector lender State Bank of India today set up a specialised micro-finance branch in Asia’s largest slum area, Dharavi, here today.

The micro-finance branch is a specialised vehicle for delivering direct as well as indirect finances to the rural as well as urban poor, State Bank of India’s Chief General Manager Mumbai Circle Shayamal Acharya told reporters after inaugurating the branch.

This is the second such branch opened by the bank in the country, the first being at Bhopal, which it established in 2008.

The branch would offer small-size loans ranging between Rs 10,000 to Rs 50,000 to self—help groups, microfinance institutions as well as individuals at interest rates as low as 8-10 per cent.

“When we talk about financial inclusion, everybody thinks about rural financing. But there is a huge requirement of financial inclusion in urban areas as well,” Acharya said.

Such branches are also necessary as the bank’s regular branches are occupied in other business activities, Acharya said. “So we thought we should have a specialised outlet, which could cater to this particular target group in financial inclusion,” he said.

The bank aims to make it a profit-making branch in the first year itself, he said, adding, “financial inclusion should not be looked upon only as a charitable activity but it should mean business as well.”

The bank’s Deputy General Manager (Rural Financing) I R Reddy said the branch was looking at disbursing loans to the tune of Rs 50 crore by the end of current fiscal.

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