Project Name: Poorest States Inclusive Growth Programme (PSIG)
Location: National (UP, Bihar, WB, Odisha, MP)
Supported by: Department for International Development (DFID) and Small Industries Development Bank of India (SIDBI)
The Poorest States Inclusive Growth (PSIG) Programme is an ambitious Department for International Development (DFID) supported programme designed to address the protracted challenge of access to financial services by the poor. Launched in April, 2012 the programme focuses on four poorest states of the country viz. Bihar, Odisha, MP, and UP. Supported by UKAid through DFID, the programme seeks to engage with both the demand and supply side actors to catalyze financial access and to strengthen the enabling environment through support to policy initiatives for financial inclusion. The programme is being implemented by Small Industries Development Bank of India (SIDBI), an apex Development Financial Institution promoted by the Government of India. The PSIG programme has two separate, interlinked components- Financial Inclusion and Women’s Empowerment and Impact Investments.
ACCESS-ASSIST is a consortium partner of SIDBI for the implementation of policy advocacy mandate of PSIG programme. The overall objective of the policy advocacy output is to advance policy dialogue by engaging with relevant stakeholders at different levels. In order to keep pace with the dynamic nature of FI space, ASSIST has undertaken several policy initiatives at the state as well as national level. Over the years, specific themes have been focused upon to address the changing landscape in the sector.
ASSIST as part of PSIG Programme has been working towards increasing funding to MFI and to strengthen the regulation space. So far around 15 exposure visits for senior bank officials have been organized to appraise them on MFI operations. Apart from facilitating visits between bankers and MFI staff, ASSIST had also institutionalized the State level Lenders forums to act as a platform for discussion between banks and other funding agencies and the MFIs operating in respective states. In order to further strengthen the policy advocacy agenda on financial inclusion in the PSIG states, ASSIST has set up the State Financial Inclusion Forum (SFIF) in the four PSIG states having membership from relevant stakeholders such as banks, MFIs, SRLMs, credit bureaus, etc. The forums provide a platform to generate important deliberations and suggestion at the state level. The suggestions received at the forum meetings were further taken forward to address specific issues in the form of research studies, recommendation papers, pilot projects, etc.
With policy advocacy as its prime mandate, ASSIST has developed several knowledge products in terms of policy papers, briefs and recommendations have been developed to engage with the larger audience. The topics have ranged from understanding the policy regulations for SFBs, strengthening RRBs, Studies in cooperative banking structure to analysing the outreach of MFIs in the PSIG states. The findings or major suggestions generated from these efforts have been disseminated by organizing several state as well as national level consultations. Apart from these, consultations to discuss pertinent financial inclusion topics have been organised on a timely basis. Through these efforts, ASSIST under the aegis of the PSIG Programme has been working to facilitate policy and institutional environment that encourages increased financial inclusion by way of provision of financial services to the poor in a responsible and convergent manner