The 730% interest loans that changed the life of Bandhan's CEO Chandra Shekhar Ghosh

Last Updated: Tue, Mar 13, 2018 19:06 hrs
Vendor selling vegetables waits for customers at his stall at a market in Mumbai

There have been numerous ca​s​es of naive shopkeepers returning more than the mathematically correct change. ​​In several cases, customers may return back the ​extra money, but ​even such kindhearts wouldn't be ​forgiving of the mathematical dumbness of such ​shopkeepers.

Being fooled ​by​ simple mathematical calculations ​is ​on​e​ ​thing, but being fooled ​by​ ​s​imple interest ​calculations ​is ​quite another. Bank loans, ​c​redit ​c​ard statements, and even tax computations for years have regularly ​misled​ ​countless people. ​It is no surprise then that many unsuspecting ​small vendors from Tripura w​ere allowing themselves to be fooled into paying colossal interest rate.

​These small​ ​vendor​s​, who had little ​money, ​each ​took a loan of Rs 500 ​every morning to buy the items they wished to sell.​ They would ​repay Rs 505 ​by afternoon after selling their wares.

The shopkeeper was happy, the lender got his money back, and ​almost ​nobody suspected anything ​was ​amiss.

A simple math reveals that the ​interest they were repaying​ runs to a whopping 7​30​%. With that logic, if you purchased a smartphone priced at Rs 10000 on a 7​3​0% loan, the total component at the end of the year would work out to Rs 8​3​000 (​more than ​eight times of the original amount).

​A sweet-shop owner's son​ was noticing all this​. ​

Chandra ​Shekhar ​Ghosh​ -​ ​for it was him - tried explaining ​to ​the vendor​s​ that ​t​he​y were​ being made a fool​ of​. But the vendor​s ​​laughed him off saying ​​they ​were only giving money to buy tea to a man who was helping them - without ​insisting on any paper work.

Besides serving as an inspiration to Chandra Shekhar Ghosh​ to start Bandhan​ - first as a micro-finance company and then as a bank - th​is​ story ​also speaks volumes about​ the financial quotient of ​ordinary Indians. We might be a land of the great mathematicians​ ​- Srinivisa Ramanujam, Aryabhatta, Brahmagupta, and Shakuntala Devi. But interest calculations are not meant for the average joe. As a rule if you wish to succeed in business, remember these two formulas.

Calculating Simple Interest

Calculating Compound Interest. Source: Byjus

​Back to​ Ghosh​. He​ observed that ​loans with​ 7​30% interest ​were rampant elsewhere too. Around Shobha Bazaar, a famous vegetable market in Kolkata, Ghosh ​found a young man distributing Rs 500 to vegetable sellers every morning. The honest vegetable sellers would return the principal and also Rs 10 as interest by the evening. ​​

Ghosh tried ​educating ​​the vegetable sellers​ about the rip-off​, but soon found that most of them did not have a bank account, and no bank was keen to ​grant them​ loans. His first​-​hand experience observing the fate of women entrepreneurs motivated him to start ​a microfinance firm. The dream ​to launch Bandhan ​was fulfilled when a few relatives lent him Rs 1.5 lakhs in 2001. In 2002, the institution received its funding from SIDBI.

In the early days, critics pointed out that Bandhan's interest stood at 30% per annum, but as funds poured in, the institution revised rates to 20.5% with no processing fee.

​​By 2003, Bandhan delivered loans estimated at Rs 15 lakh to 1120 wom​​en. With investments coming from World Bank, Ghosh was confident of taking the microfinance story on a national level. It​'​s banking license application got the RBI's approval on February 22 2013. The same year, IDFC Limited too bagged a license to start a bank.

As a bank, the entity has meagre NPAs​ (Non-Performing Assets)​, in comparison with its peers such as the State Bank of India or the Punjab National Bank. As on December 2017, the bank's profits stand at Rs 9 billion. Chandra Shekhar Ghosh's startup could ​soon ​become India's fifth largest private bank by market capitalisation.

The recent IPO is estimated to off-load 4.94% holdings, or 11.9 crore shares. At Rs 370 per share, the bank's market capitalisation is estimated at Rs 89129 crores. Yes Bank's mar​​ket-capitalisation is currently at Rs 72040 crores, while IndusInd Bank stands at Rs 103881.92.

The bank is launching its IPO on March 19. History will recollect this as the largest capitalization exercise by a bank- over Rs 4900 crores. Details of the IPO here.​​

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