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Kerala Women’s Development Corporation puts up impressive show

Our Bureau Thiruvananthapuram | Updated on February 22, 2021 Published on February 22, 2021

‘Backed by robust funding and lending system’

The Kerala State Women’s Development Corporation, a financial services company established in 1998 under the Companies Act, has disbursed ₹480 crore as loans to 22,000 women beneficiaries during the last five years (as of January 31, 2021). The same period also saw repayments of ₹328 crore, which indicate the robust health of its funding and lending system, an official spokesperson said here.

The State owns 91.85 per cent of the shares in the Corporation; the rest are held by the Cenre. Five years ago, when the current team led by KS Saleekha, Chairperson, and Bindu VC, Managing Director, took charge, the performance had left much to be desired and even the statutory audit was pending for as many years, the spokesperson added.

Health restored quickly

The health of the company was quickly restored by systematically addressing the key result areas, the spokesman said. Avoidable costs — such as unnecessary advertisements and hiring of event management agencies for organising corporate functions — were identified and eliminated.

The business performance tells a story of its own and presents a perfect model of profitable functioning while not wavering on its commitment to discharge social responsibilities, he said. The company aims is to promote gender equity and build economic capability, confidence and self-esteem among women, especially the under-privileged.

“In an environment where government companies are perceived as white elephants that consume abundant resources and are faulted for failing to deliver concrete benefits to society, the Corporation serves as a shining beacon of hope. The business parameters are highly impressive and bear testimony to the infinite potential of the public sector,” the spokesman said.

PAT up 22 times

Profit after tax (PAT) increased nearly 22 times (from ₹10.88 lakh to ₹237.33 lakh) in the four-year period from 2015-16 to 2019-20, while operating costs, at around 16 per cent of revenue in 2015-16, plummeted to roughly 9 per cent.

During the last five years, on an average, the Corporation disbursed loans amounting to ₹100 crore annually, whereas the corresponding figure for the previous five-year period (2011-2016) was around ₹29 crore.

Corporate initiatives

Apart from providing public utility services such as working women’s hostels and safe-stay homes and she-toilets, the Corporation also runs a finishing school, conducts gender awareness sessions for various groups, popularises self-defence and safety measures, distributes sanitary pads to schoolgirls, and actively supports women in start-ups by granting loans on liberal terms.

Self-employment assistance is provided to tribal women, minorities, backward classes, scheduled castes, and safai karmacharis (including rag pickers) with funding from various Central agencies. Major initiatives include the Mithra 181 women helpline, women cells in colleges, the She-Pad distribution and menstrual hygiene programme, She-Toilets, the REACH programme, and the Vanitha Mithra Kendram.

Channel for loan disbursals

Bodhyam, a gender sensitisation programme for the police, was started in 2019. An Advanced Skill Enhancement Programme in Nursing commenced in 2020. The Corporation conducted several entrepreneurship development programmes and loan melas and initiated a transgender loan scheme in 2020.

In 2018-19, the National Scheduled Tribes Finance Development Corporation selected it as a channel for disbursement of loans and saw 2,640 tribal women being trained, and ₹30 lakh disbursed as loans.

Apart from distress calls and requests for emergency aid, Mithra 181 also handles requests for information, counselling and advice. The control room receives roughly 300 calls per day and has serviced 90,000 calls since the programme started in March 2017.

She-Toilet, first of its kind

The She-Pad project has covered 2.77 lakh beneficiaries in 1,524 government-owned and aided schools. Incinerators for eco-friendly disposal and storage cabinets are part of the project design. The Menstrual Hygiene Management (MHM) programme commenced in July 2019, and had covered 800 schools before the Covid-19 protocols forced a shutdown in the education sector.

The She-Toilet project is the first such initiative in the entire country. At least 58 she-toilets are currently operational in the State, 26 of which are in the State Capital. Flushing is automated and there are units for vending as well as disposal of napkins.

Vanitha Mithra Kendrams

Vanitha Mithra Kendram provides safe accommodation with free Wi-Fi, purified drinking water, canteen, napkin vending machine, incinerator, locker, guest rooms, recreation areas and parking facilities. Besides 24x7 security, the Kendrams also offer taxi service and medical and emergency assistance. Such Kendras are operating in Thiruvananthapuram, Kochi, Malappuram, Kozhikode, Wayand and Kannur.

REACH (Resource Enhancement Academy for Career Heights) is a grooming centre for girls with branches at Kannur and Thiruvananthapuram. The curriculum is tailored to industry specifications and an active placement cell helps the students find employment.

The Integrated Skill Development Centre aims at the holistic development of tribal women through vocational training and community intervention programmes, besides operating community kitchen and crèche facility. The Women Cell is functioning in 62 colleges with over 6,500 volunteers, and besides addressing the concerns of girl students, seeks to build a sense of social commitment among the youth.

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Published on February 22, 2021
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