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ESAF Small Finance Bank

ESAF Small Finance Bank (formerly known ESAF Microfinance) is an Indian small finance bank providing banking services and small loans to the underbanked.

ESAF Small Finance Bank
ESAF Microfinance & Investments (P) Ltd.
Scheduled Bank
Founded10 March 2017
HeadquartersMannuthy, Thrissur (Registered & Corporate Office)
Number of locations
400 branches
Area served
Key people
Mr. Prabha Raveendranathan
Mr. K. Paul Thomas
(MD & CEO)
Total equity475 crore (US$73 million) (2018)
Number of employees
4,000 (2018)

ESAF started its operations as an NGO in 1992 as Evangelical Social Action Forum. Before becoming a bank, ESAF was a non-banking finance company and microfinance institution (NBFC-MFI), licensed by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and headquartered in Thrissur city of Kerala.

History and operationsEdit

On 11 March 1992, K. Paul Thomas,[1] along with Mereena Paul and a few friends, started ESAF in a small house in Mannuthy named "Little".[2] Jacob Samuel, one of the co-founders, coined the name ESAF, which is an acronym for Evangelical Social Action Forum. At inception, ESAF had five life members, seven annual members and eight honorary members. ESAF society was registered under the Travancore Cochin Literary, Scientific and Charitable Societies Registration Act. The initial president was Itty Mathew; J. Danabai was the vice president, Thomas was the secretary, supported by Samuel as joint secretary and Arun Ramakrishnan as treasurer.[3]

ESAF started lending in 1995 as the first microfinance company in Kerala. It became ESAF Small Finance Bank after receiving the first banking license in Kerala since independence.[4][5][6]

On 17 March 2017, Pinarayi Vijayan, the Chief Minister of Kerala officially inaugurated ESAF Small Finance Bank at Thrissur, Kerala. By August 2017, the bank had 3,750 employees, 284 branches, and a presence in 11 states.[2]

In March 2018, a year after its launch, the bank had expanded to 4,000 employees and 400 branches, with 2,200 crore (US$338 million) in deposits and 4,200 crore (US$645 million) in loans.[7][8]

ESAF Small Finance Bank received RBI approval to operate as scheduled bank in December 2018, making the Thrissur-based ESAF Small Finance Bank the fifth scheduled bank from Kerala after Federal Bank, South Indian Bank, Catholic Syrian Bank, and Dhanlaxmi Bank. This will reduce the bank's cost of funds, while increasing the bank's ability and obligation to provide services.[9] The bank's net profit increased to 90.28 crore in the 2018-2019 financial year from 26.99 crore the previous year.[10]



  1. ^ "ESAF to graduate into a bank soon". OnManorama. 18 September 2015. Retrieved 18 March 2018.
  2. ^ a b "ESAF SFB fulfils banking dreams of common man". 4 August 2017. Retrieved 18 March 2018.
  3. ^ "History at a glance". ESAF India. Retrieved 20 March 2018.
  4. ^ "RBI issues Small Finance Bank license to ESAFurl". Business Standard. 18 November 2016. Retrieved 17 December 2016.
  5. ^ "ESAF ties up with FIS for micro finance bank". Economic Times. 24 November 2016. Retrieved 17 December 2016.
  6. ^ "The small finance bank will be profitable within first year of operations: K Paul Thomas". Business Standard. 16 June 2016. Retrieved 17 December 2016.
  7. ^ "ESAF Crosses Rs.2300 Crore Retail Deposit in the first year - India Education Diary". India Education Diary. 12 March 2018. Retrieved 20 March 2018.
  8. ^ "ESAF Bank to celebrate first anniversary". The Hindu. 11 March 2018. Retrieved 20 March 2018.
  9. ^ "With RBI nod, ESAF is now scheduled bank". The Hindu BusinessLine. 28 December 2018. Retrieved 9 January 2019.
  10. ^ "ESAF Small Finance Bank Q4 profit up over 3-fold". The Economic Times. 13 May 2019. Retrieved 16 November 2019.