We arrived in Ramnagar Village, about two hours outside of Pune, India, and were greeted by celebratory horns and a traditional welcome ceremony. Under Secretary of the Treasury for International Affairs Lael Brainard traveled to Ramnagar to learn about innovative efforts in India to provide banking services to rural populations and to share ideas for partnership between India and the United States to address issues such as financial access and financial literacy.
In the village, she met with Mann Deshi Bank customers who lead self-help groups that have used loans from the bank to start small businesses and other activities. From these women and later in the day at a local vegetable market, she learned about Mann Deshi's E-card program, which allows women to make secure deposits through a bank agent who travels to their village with a handheld device.
Brainard also met 20 girls who received free bicycles from the Mann Deshi Foundation as part of a program that helps girls stay in school by providing a means of transportation. Additionally, she toured a mobile training center for computer skills and livelihood.
“Expanding financial access for rural and poor families is an area in which the United States and India can share best practices and learn from each other,” said Brainard. “The innovations used in mobile banking offer many interesting opportunities for expanding the reach of financial services, which can help families both in India and in many communities in the U.S. achieve their aspirations.”
During her visit to India, Under Secretary Brainard also toured a cell phone tower just outside of Delhi that fuses U.S. and Indian technology and financing in support of green energy. The tower’s power supply was recently adapted from a diesel generator to solar hybrid energy as part of a larger project that includes support by the International Finance Corporation and the Export-Import Bank. An American firm provided the solar cell technology and worked with Indian telecom and other private firms to make the transition – a great example of the growing opportunities for our business leaders to deliver new technologies in India and create high-quality jobs at home.
A relationship between the United States and India will be one of the defining partnerships of the 21st century, and this week’s visit was just one in a series to help translate our vision of partnership into reality in the financial realm.
Read more about Under Secretary Lael Brainard’s trip to India, including remarks at a Confederation of Indian Industry event and an Institute of International Finance event, and check out more photos.
Anil Kakani is Senior Advisor for India.