Social Performance Management and Peoples Engagement (SPM & PE) at Sambandh


Going forward microfinance shall be increasingly measured by how much difference an Institution has made in the lives of the target people instead of how much profit the institution has made in a particular period. From (with) the evolution of microfinance institutions – the very essence of the customized small loans was to make a change in the lives of the people having limited or no access to formal financial avenues. And the social performance attached to the lending business is being adjudged while tracking the attainment of the set social goals of a microfinance service provider. In this regard, Sambandh has given special emphasis on deepening of the client relationship with a variety of initiatives apart from designing & delivering (socially) responsible financial products. The Management and the Team closely monitor the activities that coincide with the organization’s social goals and core philosophy.

Being a double bottom line company, it is imperative for Sambandh to be financially and socially responsible towards its clients. Other than providing credit facilities for income generating purposes, Sambandh constantly engages itself with clients with the provisions of different value-added services and responsible financial products. It also organizes financial literacy trainings for the clients to inform them about the benefits of being a part of a group (JLG/SHG), on maintaining cashbook and encouraging internal lending and develop a culture of regular and timely repayment of their monthly instalments.

Sambandh integrates credit with that of socially responsible services like WATSAN (Water & Sanitation) – it is a complete package of services given to our clients that includes the awareness building on the use of safe sanitary uses, and building a well-trained locally available masons who can built affordable lavatories. The clients are offered financial assistance to construct toilets at close quarters of their households through this product.

The Credit Linked Life Insurance is a cover for the loan amount given to the clients, and the client can take the insurance for herself and spouse. In any unfortunate incidents of death of the client or the spouse, the family gets the instalments back that were already been paid to Sambandh, and on the other hand Sambandh gets back the remaining outstanding amount.

Apart from engaging with clients, the organisation takes the client-MFI relationship to the next level and provides “Get Well Soon” service. Under this service, in case of any unfortunate accidents of the spouse or the client, the field staff rush to the hospital or to the client’s place and present them with health-drinks, assorted fruits and a “Get Well Soon” card signed by the staff in vernacular language. Similarly, in the incident of unfortunate demise of the client or her spouse, funeral ex-gratia amount of Rs 500 or Rs 1000 is provided to the family.

In every two months Sambandh organises health camps by inviting its clients to take the benefits like expert advices from the visiting physicians on communicable diseases, developing daily healthy habits, usual check-ups and getting general medicines without any charge.

Employee Engagement & Leadership Development

Sambandh has developed such employee-friendly culture that there is always a scope for someone to take the situational leadership roles in the organization. This culture has been imbibed in the DNA of the organization, where a constant monitoring and due care is taken up so that the objective of the promoters to create a pool of leaders not managers, doesn’t go in vain. Sambandh Centre of Leadership Excellence (SCLE) has taken a good shape with the evolution of a full-fledged SPM & PE team since last year. The team going by the original agenda of encouraging the youngsters to come forward, devise a set of activities centering around soft skill development. It takes a great deal of effort to persuade the minds of the per say field staffs to express themselves while taking part in a group discussion on certain topics of their choice.

This activity entirely focuses on the development of soft skills of the field level staff. It is one of those areas where Sambandh believes each one of its employees should be well groomed to interact with the team-mates as well as with visitors. While facilitating on organising this activity the SPM & PE team coordinates with the FO department and comes out with a topic and schedule.
This is again another form of employee engagement initiatives that aims to break the complacency and any monotony at work. It is organized in the second half of every Friday. Here a number of team-building and fun-filled games are being played that brings in the lighter side of every participant. While participating in these games/exercises the employees get an opportunity to interact with their other department colleagues.
Appreciation Week
This is an interesting way of creating a platform where every employee gets a chance to share an appreciative note to someone who has brought in joy and happiness in his/her personal or professional life in the preceding year. It is observed in the month of June every year. Here many of the employees find it so surprising and overwhelming to get a good note on them sent by someone they haven’t thought of.

The clients are also upskilled in managing their expenses and given technical input on individual’s/group’s economic activities to scale up and diversify their sources of income. Another important aspect of regular savings is demonstrated to help them be self-sustainable. Financial Literacy Trainings are organized every month in all our operational branches spread across the operational states. This has been taken upon more systematically with the success of the following SIDBI-PSIG program.

During the year 2016-17 Sambandh piloted Financial Literacy and Women Empowerment program along with ACCION Technical Advisor India, under SIDBI-PSIG (Poorest States Inclusive Growth) program supported by DFID to improve understanding on financial services of the poor. About 6000 clients were benefited through trainings provided by the Master Trainers in Odisha. These master trainers were provided trainings on application of Information Communication Technology to train the SHGs/JLGs through digital media, interactive games, mass awareness camps, role plays etc by ACCION in partnership with Sambandh. As earlier note, the pilot was a huge success and the clients and their families been benefited from the initiative, hence Sambandh has decided to scale up the FL&WE initiative targeting 12000 clients and, in the process, recruited 12 Master Trainer for the accomplishing the objective. It is found that the 2nd phase has helped the clients to gain knowledge, women’s capacity to address financial and gender issues, enrolling themselves into several govt. schemes beside many other financial planning aspects.

Sambandh has gone into a partnership with Awaaz.De, an Ahmedabad based innovator which develops concepts that target the rural and difficult terrains to send need-based pushed messages and voice-over calls that can be received even from a feature phone. Awaaz.De is developing story-based modules (in Hindi & Odia languages) to enhance the understanding on financial planning, household budgeting, developing savings/banking habit, benefits of investment and insurance for all of Sambandh’s clients in phase-wise manner. The pushed call/message would also include a confirmation on the receipt of the monthly instalment amount as well, which would avoid incidences of misappropriation of cash at the field level.