The Kerala Vidhava Sangham (KVS), an organization which has over 16,000 widows as members, has already secured clearance from the Co-operative Department for starting the bank whose thrust is to empower women from marginalized sections, especially widows.

The institution, named as Widow Development Co-Operative Society (WIDCOS), will formulate schemes aimed at generating a large number of employment opportunities for widows, their wards and other hapless women through various schemes and entrepreneurship programmes.
The first branch of the bank would come up at Ollur in Thrissur district and more branches would be opened in other parts of the state in course of time.
"WIDCOS will be like any other bank in the co-operative sector. But widows and poor women will get preference in our service," KVS president Daisy Mathew said.
She said the process of raising capital was already under way and major shares were taken by KVS members in Thrissur district.
Social activist P N Rajan, who chairs the advisory committee of KVS, said widows are one of the most marginalized sections in the society who need special care and backing. The bank was an attempt by widows to support themselves.
"The idea of starting a co-operative bank is one of the handful of empowerment programmes planned by KVS. Apart from normal banking functions, it would also extend credit support to self-employment and entrepreneurial ventures," Rajan said.

Widow-friendly programmes to be taken up by the bank include disbursal of low-interest housing loans, conduct of chit funds and small saving and deposit schemes for women.

Widows's self-employment initiatives would get financial assistance. The bank would also help them find market for their products, Rajan said.

A shop providing pesticide-free vegetables and fruits, door-to-door delivery of household articles in flats and residential apartments, delivery of packed meals in construction sites and job training programmes are also on cards under the bank, he said.

Rajan said the KVS has plans to open more branches of WIDCOS in other parts of the state and form a state-level apex body to regulate all their activities.
Rajani, a Chalakkudy-based civic body staff, was selected as the president of the co-operative society, which is expected to be operational in August. As per rough estimate, there are over 40 lakh widows in the state.


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