Financial decision making as we know it has been revolutionised with women taking the centre stage in the process. A product of changing mindset, majority of the female working class is no longer an uncaring dependant daughter, wife or mother. They take financial decisions and are setting new perspective with respect to financial independence. While most of working class and self-employed women are aware about financial opportunities and benefits available, there are others who are not well-versed with these financial benefits. The government is doing everything it can to encourage women participation and is consistently making an attempt to provide various financial benefits for women in the country.
Various financial and life insurance institutes offer special schemes to promote financial independence and stability in women:
- Savings Bank Account – Many banks have ‘women’s savings account’ that offer discounts and cash-back to women who spend on shopping, wellness, food, entertainment and a lot more through the bank’s debit card. It allows women to earn while they spend. There are various banks that offer an additional discount to women on medical tests specific to women’s health. This encourages women to prioritise their health and wellbeing. Additionally, women can open a ‘Junior Account’ for the education of their children. It has no minimum balance requirement if it is linked to a Recurring Deposit Account or a Systematic Investment Plan.
- Health & Life Insurance Premiums: Women can benefit from the special medical insurance schemes and premium rates that are customised to meet their health needs. Life insurance companies offer special schemes for women, keeping women-centric diseases like breast cancer in focus. This encourages women to invest in a policy based on their current medical health. Women enjoy less premium with discount upto a certain age at large. Insurance premium paid on life insurance is exempted under the Income Tax Act for men and women. Traditionally, women end up paying a lower amount of premium as compared to men because women have a higher life expectancy than men.
- Low interest rate on loans: Women applying for a home loan can enjoy a low interest rate. There is a difference of about 0.05% on the interest rate between loan applications made by men and women. The same is applicable for car loans as well. When you look at it regarding net interest savings, you can benefit in the long run.
- Reduction in stamp duty: Some states in the country provide an exemption to women in stamp duty and transfer duty for conveyance deeds, sale deeds and gift deeds. The exemption is only applicable if the property is in the name of a woman. In states where there is no exemption, there is a small rebate on the percentage of duty charges for women.
- Entrepreneurship: The government has introduced various incentives and schemes to promote entrepreneurship among women. A recent scheme by the government aimed at financial benefits for women, ‘Stand Up India’ allows women entrepreneurs to apply for bank loans between RS. 10 lakhs and RS. 1 crore in the manufacturing and trading sector for the first time. The government has also launched a Mudra Yojana Scheme for women to grant loans ranging between 50,000 to RS. 10 lakhs for women. Aspiring women entrepreneurs who want to start small new enterprises and businesses can easily avail it. Additionally, there are various banks that offer different packages to women based on their loan requirement and enterprise size.
- Bharatiya Mahila Bank: The bank was started with the goal to finance underprivileged women who wanted to start their own business. In 2017, it was merged with State Bank of India. The scheme offers a loan of up to RS. 20 crores for small businesses at an interest rate of 12.25 percent.
- Cent Kalyani Scheme: This scheme is to provide financial stability for women who manage small and medium enterprises in the agricultural sector or retail trading. Loans of up to RS. 100 lakhs are sanctioned without any requirement of a guarantee. These loans are offered by the Central Bank of India.
- Mahila Udhyam Nidhi Scheme: This scheme was launched by the Punjab National Bank, and it aims to help women set up new projects. Loans of upto RS. 10 lakhs are sanctioned by the bank.
- Annapurna Scheme: This scheme is suitable for women who own a food catering business. It is offered by Bharatiya Mahila Bank and State Bank of Mysore. They offer loans up to RS. 50,000 without any requirement in collateral. The loan is to be repaid within a period of three years.
- Stree Shakti: Offered by the State Bank of Mysore, the loan is suitable for women who are a part of Entrepreneurship Development Programs. For this loan, the applicant must have 50 percent ownership in the business and loans of up to RS. 50 lakhs are sanctioned.
- Orient Mahila Vikas Yojana Scheme: This scheme was initiated by Oriental Bank of Commerce and is ideal for women entrepreneurs in India who want to start a small business. There is a concession of 2 percent on the rate of interest on the loan. Moreover, no collateral is needed for a loan amount not exceeding RS. 25 lakh.
- Dena Shakti Scheme: The scheme offers loans up to RS. 20 lakhs and is suitable for women who want to do business out of education, housing and retail trading. There is a concession of 0.25 percent on the rate of interest.
Women in India have already come a long way in life. Financial stability for women is of prime importance for the government. Thanks to these financial benefits, women can now start their own business without having to worry about the money. These schemes encourage women to invest in the property, look after their health, borrow funds and make their start up dream come true. Women across different sectors can benefit from the different loan schemes offered by banks. These schemes also help women save tax through tax exemptions and avail deductions up to a certain limit. Yes, there are many other ways India still needs to develop and look after women, but we are hoping that too, will happen soon.