In partnership with Haqdarshak Empowerment Solutions (HESPL), DBS Foundation has undertaken a social protection and financial literacy programme aimed at marginalised citizens across India, including daily-wage earners, domestic workers, farm workers, sanitation workers and micro-entrepreneurs. The programme will educate 2,00,000 beneficiaries (70% women) to build their digital and financial capacity to access relevant government entitlements and private financial services.

The programme is being implemented in 10 districts in Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Odisha, Tamil Nadu and Telangana, targeting some of the most vulnerable populations in these areas. The initiative’s ultimate aim is to establish a basic social safety net for these citizens and empower them with digital and financial training to take charge of their lives and households.

A brick-and-mortar centre, to be called Yojana Kendra, will be established in select communities. Women agents will be identified and trained as Haqdarshaks to serve and support the community. This agent cadre will mobilise potential beneficiaries from low-income families with minimal access to social protection and financial services.

The support agents will conduct financial literacy training camps using audiovisual tools and easy-to-understand content in local languages. Beneficiaries will be screened with the Haqdarshak mobile app to determine their eligibility for welfare programmes, and the agent will provide end-to-end support to fill forms, collect documents, and register beneficiaries under social protection programmes. The programme will be executed by 400 support agents, and there will be one supervisor for every 40 agents.

Shoma Narayanan, Managing Director, Group Strategic Marketing & Communications, DBS Bank India, said, ‘As a socially responsible bank, we recognise the need to create impact beyond banking and to encourage solutions for a more inclusive world. Our partnership with Haqdarshak is a concerted effort to empower marginalised communities, particularly women, by providing them access to social welfare and financial tools, which will increase self-sufficiency and give them agency over their lives. We are also proud of Haqdarshak, which has scaled significantly as a Business for Good under the DBS Foundation’s Grant Programme, and shares our purpose to build a better future.’

Aniket Doegar, Founder & CEO, Haqdarshak, said this was their largest project so far and they were hoping to impact the lives of 200,000 citizens, majority of them women, across disadvantaged sections of the community via digital and financial literacy training and by linking them to relevant welfare entitlements.

With a database of 7,000+ state and central welfare schemes, available in 11 Indian languages through web and mobile channels, Haqdarshak offers features such as beneficiary onboarding, a customisable eligibility engine, and an end-to-end application workflow.

The financial literacy rate among Indian adults is the lowest compared to other major emerging economies, with only 24% being financially literate, according to a report by the Global Financial Literacy Excellence Center. This disparity is attributed to a need for formal training and awareness, as well as interstate differences. Access to social welfare and financial inclusion services at the last mile is a critical challenge. According to a 2017 World Bank study, only 40 per cent of Indians can apply for government services as they cannot afford the time and money to access them.