Bangalore: Serving a social causes can make sound marketing sense. India's largest bank, State Bank of India, has launched a scheme called ''Hrudaya Suraksha'', as part of a tie-up between with noted cardiac surgeon Dr Devi Prasad Shetty's Bangalore-based Narayana Hrudayalaya, to provide low-interest loans to poor heart patients. (See: King of hearts)
The scheme was launched by Nobel laureate Muhammad Yunus yesterday.
The scheme benefits SBI to increase its loans portfolio, while ensuring that heart patients need not sink in their life's savings for treating a life-threatening ailment.
Hailed as the first of its kind financial product for heart care in India, SBI will provide loans up to around 80 per cent of the total medical expenditure, or Rs50,000 whichever is lower, at 8.5 per cent per annum.
This scheme has been specially designed so that economically challenged cardiac patients can secure funds needed for treatment at Narayana Hrudayalaya. According to SBI chairman O P Bhat, the scheme is part of a pilot project to evaluate the concept of offering a loan on low-interest terms to people below the poverty line, which includes the substantial chunk of the population earning less than $2 per day.
Narayana Hrudayalaya is a cardiac care hospital that has been conducting heart surgeries that cost around Rs65,000. Therefore, the upper limit of the loan scheme of Rs50,000 falls well within the 80 per cent threshold for the cost of treatment.
The cardiac treatment loan would be available to patients screened and referred by the hospital. Moreover, the interest for first three months would also be paid by Narayana Hrudayalaya.
The borrower will need to repay the full amount including the interest within six months, and the loan amount would be administered at SBI's Health City Branch on Hosur Road in Bangalore.
A guarantor would be required for the loan, and could be in the joint name of the patient and his/her spouse, a close relative, or anyone else who would opt to be a co-borrower. Loans for minors would be availed by the parents.
Muhammad Yunus, pioneer of the micro credit movement in Bangladesh, explained that each nation had its own vision of creating an affordable health-care system for its citizens, and banks have a significant role to play by opening more opportunities such as the one in this cardiac scheme. He gave the example of the role of his bank in bringing social change, with one of the objectives of the Grameen Bank being to eradicate dowry.
To achieve that objective, the bank issued housing loans to women on a condition that the land on which the house would be built has had to be owned by them.
Yunus said that this move resulted in husbands transferring the ownership of the land to the wife to avail the loan. With the lady of the house becoming the owner of the property, divorce rates dropped, as ''most of the men fear being sent out of the house that they no longer own."