ESAF to Launch Year-long Silver Jubilee Celebrations


Thrissur: The year-long mega silver jubilee celebrations of ESAF, an NGO based in Thrissur, will begin on Saturday close on the heels of the launch of its small finance bank on March 17.

As part of the silver jubilee celebrations, plans are on the anvil to build houses for 25 most- needy sangam members of ESAF. The organisation also has plans to launch scholarship programmes for the  children of sangam members and host an annual event to honour the best women entrepreneurs of ESAF.

Addressing a press conference here on Friday, K Paul Thomas, the Founder and Executive Director, ESAF and Chairman, ESAF Group of Social Enterprises, said that close on the heels of launching the first private bank in Kerala after independence, the organisation is all pumped up to keep up with the expectations of the public. “Over the years, ESAF has won innumerable awards and honours and the nod to launch a small finance bank was the latest and the most important landmark in the history of ESAF,” he said.

”Some path-breaking innovations are lined up for the public to experience differentiated banking at its best,” said Paul Thomas. The bank will give loans for farming, small businesses, housing and education. It will also have a spectrum of deposit options for all customers, including non-resident Indians (NRIs). The biggest advantage of becoming a bank, according to Thomas, is that ESAF can offer full spectrum of financial services with value-based banking as the key differentiator. The company hopes to start operations with a network of around 85 retail branches and 300-plus customer touch points, which would be opened through the year.

The success of ESAF is an outcome of the social business model propounded by its founder. Triple bottom line is the underlying concept that drives the social model forward. It ensures the organisation’s social contribution towards society, the economic empowerment of the customers, and environment-friendly policies. “The organisation has set social targets for each branch and has set parameters to gauge the same,” said Paul Thomas.

Started as an NGO focussing on career counselling and advisory services, ESAF has moved into the areas of healthcare services, environmental care, skill development services, financial literacy programmes, capacity building programmes, and care for differently-abled.

Some of the highlights in the journey of ESAF in the last 25 years include, getting selected as an aggregator for NPS by the Central Government in 2010 and in the same year getting selected by ILO for their action research programme – decent work deficit in the country. So far, the organisation has enrolled more than 3 lakh unorganised workers under the Swalambhan National Pension Scheme.