The pillars of Kochi’s economic prowess were laid during the past two decades with the assistance of a few financial entities in central Kerala. Modern Kochi owes much to the support it derived from banks. Elevation of the city as a prominent business hub in the country has been intertwined with the visionary practices adopted by these firms.

A key role in the making of modern Kochi was played by the Aluva-based Federal Bank. Its contribution in raising the capital for the Cochin International Airport at Nedumbasserry was timely and huge. The airport project required massive initial capital. It was Federal Bank which provided the money for buying land for the airport. The bank’s support instilled confidence in the proponents of the project.

‘A blessing for Kochi’

T.S.Jagadeesan, Chief General Manager, who joined the bank in the 70’s, says the very formation of Federal Bank is a blessing for Kochi. K.P.Hormis, the founder, could have distributed the shares among his family, but the visionary went across the country to enable a wide spectrum of people to participate in its formation. The bank has only independent directors and there is no nominee of the promoter in the Director Board.

The bank started functioning at a time when Kerala was gripped by unemployment. In the 90’s, a large number of employees of the bank were Kochiites. Out of about 1,900 recruited last year, about 500 persons belonged to Kochi.

One of the major infrastructure projects in Ernakulam that was supported by the bank include Kerala Water Authority’s water supply scheme for Tripunithura and Chowara.

Both these projects were given Rs.50 crore each. Telk, Traco Cables and several other industrial ventures have received substantial financial support from the bank.

The bank also financed Aluva-Cherthala four-lane project. The formation of Federal Bank was based on trust, says KP. Hormis’son Raju Hormis.

The local people of Mookkannoor, a village near Angamaly, trusted his father and the farmers there wanted him to keep their hard-earned money safe. In 2012,the total business of the bank touched Rs.86693.11 crore and with over 1000 branches it is ascending new heights, strengthening the economy of the State.

South India’s bank

South Indian Bank, one of the earliest banks in South India, has had a fruitful journey along with the growth of Kochi, helping the city to develop its commerce and industry. Formed by a group of enterprising men in Thrissur in the erstwhile State of Cochin during the Swadeshi movement, the bank could effectively free the business community from the money lenders.

Over the years, it has grown into a vibrant partner in growth across various spheres of financial activity in the city. The first among the private sector banks in Kerala to become a scheduled bank, it opened new avenues of business in various segments. Its pioneering efforts in Kerala in opening a Currency Chest, NRI branch and an industrial finance branch gave new dimensions for the banking sector in the State in general and central Kerala in particular. With a network of 750 branches and over 790 ATMs, the bank is set to scale greater heights, benefiting Ernakulam to a large extent.

Aiding development

The Ernakulam District Cooperative Bank Limited played a pivotal role in establishing important infrastructure projects in Kochi. “Building Goshree bridges was a long felt demand, but finding the money was a challenge , says M.M.Monayi, former Chairman of the bank.

It was the District Cooperative Bank which gave Rs.20 crore to form the consortium for the project which changed the face of modern Kochi.

The amount was allocated only on the basis of a mere government sanction, a proposition which was not enough for a bank to finance a project. The bank also extended help to the Nedumbasserry airport project by providing Rs.16 crore as a stopgap arrangement to fulfill the terms of Hudco with which the airport had a loan agreement.

Financial inclusion

The Kochi Cooperative Medical College, yet another landmark project of Kochi, was established with the monetary help from the bank. About Rs.80 crore loan was given to the medical college, apart from providing Rs.1 crore as share capital.

The bank had also played an important role in ensuring financial inclusion by extending banking facilities to many places where the public and private banks hesitated to enter.

It also had operated a mobile ATM to help people residing in different islands of Greater Kochi.

With over 50 branches and ATMs, the bank is treading its growth path along with the district’s economy.

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