Tribal women from the Paniyan tribe located in the Nilgiri hills of Tamil Nadu have begun saving for their old age through the "micro-pension" model


So imagine this: Women, from the Paniyan tribe, living in a matriarchal society, visibly from an African descent, with coiled jute rings , about 3cms in diameter, pierced through their earlobs- no coherent knowledge of the usage of cash, other than for the consumption of beetle nut and alcohol, now save for their old age through a state-of-the-art card payment solution! Fascinating?

The Paniyan tribe is one of the primitive tribes residing in the hills of the Nilgiris in Tamil Nadu. Living in hamlets, these natives are being enabled by the Center for Tribal Research and Development (CTRD) to have a better living through ‘pucca” housing, rearing live stock, bio-gas usage etc. Since livelihood activities such as access to farmer pacs are introduced, Invest India Micro Pension Services (IIMPS) has now stepped in to encourage micro savings within this community, which is perhaps neglected from formal financial services.

How does IIMPS achieve this?

With poor banking access (given the remote location) and lack of formal education among tribal communities, such an intervention could have had limitations. However, IIMPS, with its progressive and innovative card payment solution, now helps the Paniyan tribal community to save for their old age.

How does this work?

Financial Literacy centers have been set up by IIMPS in two locations, one at the CTRD head office, and the other at Guddalore in Tamil Nadu. Well trained counselors of IIMPS educate the tribals in groups of 10-15, to establish the need for old age savings through innovative tools such as flip charts, films and simple calculators. Keeping their education and grasping levels in mind, these tools are essentially pictorial and in native languages. Once they are well-educated and aware of the product details, and more importantly, voluntarily decide to join the scheme, an instantly generated micro-pension card is issued to each individual, which is unique to its beholder. The individual can now ‘load’ their card in denominations as low as a rupee… monthly, quarterly or annually, as specified through standing instructions taken upon enrollment. There are no penalties levied for default of payment, should the individual be unable to save for a particular period of time, going forward.

So how is this beneficial to the customer?

Each individual no longer has to succumb to the exploitation by those who collect cash from them. In the sense, since the cash is collected and instantly loaded onto the micro pension card (just like a pre-paid phone connection), the money travels to the accounts of the product provider under each individual’s name, without any delay.

The outcome?

  • No risk of cash ‘fraud’ for the beneficiary.
  • Instantaneous cash transfer to the product provider.
  • Real time cash trail reconciliation on the computer screens of the service delivery partner.
Changing Lives
field updates

Low income individuals in remote tribal locations at Tamil Nadu are now being enrolled for "micro-pension" in partnership with Centre for Tribal Research and Development (CTRD).

IIMPS and eKutir will jointly assist low income farmers in Odisha to accumulate micro-savings through the Micro-Pension model.