The journey of Chandra Shekhar Ghosh as a successful banker is about the story of how he transformed the lives of many underprivileged women entrepreneurs through microfinance in the relatively underbanked eastern and north-eastern regions.

Even though Ghosh’s nearly a decade stint at Bandhan Bank came to an end on Tuesday upon completion of his tenure as its MD & CEO, it could mark the beginning of a new journey for him.

In his letter to the board of directors of Bandhan Bank on April 5, Ghosh had informed that he is looking to assume a larger strategic role at Bandhan group level after stepping down from the bank.

“As a banker CS Ghosh achieved remarkable feats. Especially in women empowerment, he has been very successful. We have seen many success stories of small women entrepreneurs who got microfinance loans from Bandhan. The bank has been very successful in empowering small entrepreneurs and transforming their lives with its micro credit operations,” a former board member of the Kolkata-based bank said.

“I think after retiring from the bank, he will get more time to think about the group. At the bank he had some limitations and borderlines. Now, he will be free of those boundaries and able to concentrate more on the group’s expansion,” said one of Ghosh’s former colleagues.

Marking a strategic move into the insurance business, Bandhan Financial Holdings (BFHL), the holding company of Bandhan Bank, completed the acquisition of Aegon Life Insurance in February this year.

Earlier, a consortium, led by Bandhan Financial Holdings, had acquired IDFC Asset Management Co as the Bandhan group believed the asset management industry would be one of the fastest growing segments in the Indian financial services industry.


Ghosh, who had started working in the non-profit sector after completing a master’s in statistics from Dhaka University, set up Bandhan in 2001 as an NGO to meet the dual objective of women empowerment and poverty alleviation. In 2006, Bandhan acquired a Non-Banking Finance Company (NBFC) and named it Bandhan Financial Services (BFSL).

Under the vision and leadership of Ghosh, then mostly unknown to the upper tier of the Indian banking fraternity, Bandhan was witnessing an exponential growth in its microfinance business as the MFI was rapidly expanding its footprint in hitherto untapped eastern and north- eastern regions.

In 2010, Bandhan Financial Services (BFSL) became the largest microfinance institution in the country. The Kolkata-headquartered BFSL’s loan portfolio had almost touched Rs 1,500 crore with over a 1,000 branch network and around 2.5 million borrowers by April, 2010.

In his Budget speech on February 26, 2010, Pranab Mukherjee, the then Finance Minister, informed Parliament that the Reserve Bank of India was considering giving some additional banking licenses to private sector players.

“Non Banking Financial Companies could also be considered, if they meet the RBI’s eligibility criteria,” Mukherjee had added. In February 2013, RBI released the final guidelines on licensing norms for setting up new banks and sought applications.

Moment of joy

The great moment of joy for Bandhan came on June 17, 2015, when RBI issued the banking licence to it to carry on banking business in the country. Ending the decade-long wait for new bank licences, RBI had then decided to issue permits to only two -- Bandhan and IDFC-- of the 25 applicants.

Bandhan started operations as a universal bank on August 23, 2015, after becoming India’s first microfinance institution to get a universal banking licence.

The bank on last Saturday said its board approved the appointment of Ratan Kumar Kesh, Executive Director & Chief Operating Officer, as an Interim MD &CEO for a period of three months or till a new Managing Director & Chief Executive Officer takes charge.

The board has appointed the Interim MD &CEO as the selection process for Ghosh’s successor has not been completed. He was the lender’s Managing Director & CEO since July 10, 2015.