India's best bank for CSR 2019: Punjab National Bank
Punjab National Bank
It hasn’t been the best of times for Punjab National Bank. A colossal fraud spotted in February 2018 came at a bad time for both the bank and for a government keen to sort out its troubled state banks.
But amid all the chaos, the New Delhi lender, or more specifically its corporate social responsibility team, deserves great credit for keeping its eye on the ball.
For make no bones about it, Punjab National Bank’s CSR platform is impressive. Its primary aim of giving back to society is far from your standard bland corporate slogan.
Under the leadership of managing director and chief executive Sunil Mehta, the bank provides free medical camps, helps to build schools and hospitals, and promotes financial inclusion. The lender has placed itself at the heart of Pradhan Mantri Mudra Yojana, a government programme that aims to improve financial inclusion among the rural and the under-banked, and Standup India, a plan to boost entrepreneurship among the historically disadvantaged.
PNB is also using its vast network – it has 7,000 branches across India – wisely. Around 8,000 business correspondent agents are sent on the road with the aim of bringing the rural and unbanked into the formal financial system.
It also opened 12 dedicated farmers’ training centres, which teach members of the farming community to, among other things, manage their books, conserve rainwater and solar energy, and understand animal health and treatment.
It has also opened 103 financial literacy and credit counselling centres, which provide no-frills face-to-face financial advice to all- comers, explaining in layman’s terms how to open a bank account, secure access to capital and manage a corporate or a household budget.
In recent years, Punjab National Bank hasn’t always been good at helping itself – it’s on track to post a loss in the financial year to the end of March 2019, before returning to profit – but to give credit where it is due, it is consistently good at helping others.