TheNFAPost Podcast
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Jamshedpur, NFAPost: Bandhan Bank, one of the leading banking and financial services company with the largest portfolio of microlending, has decided to play an active role in helping make Bengal, and eastern India, a thriving hub for technology-based start-ups.

As digitalisation of the economy has assumed the utmost importance in the country over the last few years, Bandhan Bank’s decision is expected to help India’s great dream to become a $5 trillion economy in the future.

Towards this objective, Bandhan Bank is playing an active role in helping make Bengal, and eastern India, a thriving hub for technology-based startups.

Bandhan Bank is a strong supporter of the WEBEL-BCC&I Tech Incubation Centre, which is a joint initiative of The Bengal Chamber of Commerce & Industry (BCC&I) and Webel Technology Ltd, a Government of West Bengal undertaking, under the control of the Department of Information Technology & Electronics.

The Tech Incubation Centre’s main objective is to create an ecosystem that will foster and support innovation, and knowledge-based entrepreneurship in Bengal leading to the creation of wealth and social value through successful ventures.

The Tech Incubation Centre, which was the brainchild of Bandhan Bank Managing Director & Chief Executive Officer Chandra Shekhar Ghosh, has seen renowned technology service providers such as Hewlett Packard, Google Cloud and Amazon Web Services support the cause.

Academic institutions 

Bengal has historically enjoyed inherent strengths including acclaimed academic institutions, skilled human capital, and a strategic geographic location whereby it can serve as India’s gateway to Southeast Asia. These advantages make the state an ideal hub for startups that leverage digital solutions to solve pressing challenges.

When he started Bandhan two decades ago, Chandra Shekhar Ghosh said it was also a start-up committed to making positive social impact by providing the economically underprivileged access to formal credit.

“Having faced the struggles of building an institution from scratch, I have first-hand knowledge of the importance that mentorship and handholding plays in an organisation’s early days. There is immense potential in the IT industry and supporting the Tech Incubation Centre is our humble effort at supporting entrepreneurship that can leverage technology to solve real-life challenges,” says Chandra Shekhar Ghosh.

Financial support

Not only does Bandhan Bank help the Tech Incubation Centre with financial support, it also facilitates periodic knowledge sessions between incubate firms and its senior management.

The Tech Incubation Centre will help develop local entrepreneurs from Bengal and their business ideas into the large-scale value creators of tomorrow by offering them – among other things – a co-working setup, and mentorship from industry leaders in diverse business domains and functional areas such as finance & taxation, compliance, legal and intellectual property rights.

Viable business propositions are also connected with potential financiers and collaborators; and startups that are a part of the incubation programme are invited to discussions in networks of BCC&I’s members and industry stakeholders.

Sector-specific needs

BCC&I Chairperson – IT Committee and PricewaterhouseCoopers Managing Partner, East and Technology Consulting Leader Arnab Basu said they have created a board of mentors who are mostly from the IT committee of the Chamber, who mentor the incubates on regular basis.

“On a need basis, we reach out to our other expert committee chairpersons to seek their advice on their respective areas for the incubates. Apart from that, if there are sector-specific needs, the same is provided from The Chamber’s network of experts,” says Arnab Basu.

The Tech Incubation Centre has a total capacity of 20 seats and, till date, 29 incubate companies have benefited from the programme. After perfecting their business model and achieving a certain scale, these startups leave the incubator to venture out on their own.

Detect health problem

One such startup that successfully participated in the incubation programme was ExeRx Health Tech Pvt. Ltd. Kolkata-based med-tech company uses IoT-based technology to detect health problems such as anaemia, and liver and lung-related diseases, without drawing the patient’s blood.

EzeRx Founder & CEO Partha Pratim Das Mahapatran said WEBEL-BCC&I Tech Incubation Centre has been an integral part of the success story of EzeRx.

“The working environment, the opportunities and the guidance offered by the centre has been of utmost importance. We have been able to expand our marketing area due to the connections introduced to us at the centre. We wholeheartedly extend our gratitude to WEBEL-BCC&I and Bandhan Bank for believing in us,” says Partha Pratim Das Mahapatra.

Another venture that has gained acceptance after being part of the Tech Incubation Centre is Schoppen Solutions, which is a biotechnology startup that uses Artificial Intelligence and IoT for the modernisation of apiculture.

Schoppen Solutions Founder Arijit Das said the WEBEL-BCC&I Tech Incubation Centre ecosystem shaped up his vision and created a pathway between ideas and reality. “The government connection was a milestone which shaped the future course of my company,” says Arijit Das.

Foster growth

Government of West Bengal. IT Promotion Cell, Information Technology & Electronics Department Advisor Swarup Roy said the WEBEL-BCC&I Tech Incubation Centre is particularly designed by the Government of West Bengal’s Department of Information Technology & Electronics to foster the growth and building up an ecosystem of start-ups in the Information Technology space, and more specifically in the emerging technology areas.

“This has already brought in a number of successful start-up ventures and the Centre has been relentlessly working towards curating more such ventures towards bigger success,” says Swarup Roy.

Bandhan started in 2001 as a not-for-profit enterprise that stood for financial inclusion and women empowerment through sustainable livelihood creation. It turned into an NBFC a few years later but the core objective remained financial inclusion.

Universal bank

When Bandhan Bank started operations on August 23, 2015, it was the first instance of a microfinance entity transforming into a universal bank in India. On the day of launch itself, Bandhan Bank started with 2,523 banking outlets.

Bandhan Bank is driven by a constant desire to serve better. It offers world-class banking products and services to urban, semi-urban and rural customers alike. In the last few years of operations, Bandhan Bank has spread its presence to 34 of the 37 states and union territories in India with 5,197 branches and banking outlets serving 2.25 crore customers (as on December 31, 2020).

With its experienced management, diversified team and well-entrenched distribution, Bandhan Bank is well poised to meet the aspirations of its customers and stakeholders.

 

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