Dr Sukesh Zamwar the Managing Director of Buldana Urban, a highly successful multi state cooperative society active in the Buldana region in Maharashtra is a cooperator with a difference. An orthopedic surgeon by training Zamwar’s entry into cooperative was not premeditated. After finishing MBBS he went to Germany to become a knee-replacement expert, and on return home did dabble with surgery for a while but he soon got drawn towards the cooperative movement.
But his idea of cooperative is not archaic. He is not keen on any government support. And his idea of cooperative is not restricted to one sector. It encompasses everything that a community needs. Responding to changing times he re-defined cooperative in his own way and it proved highly successful–so much so that in a short period of three years Buldana Urban became a 1.3 billion US dollar cooperative bagging several national and international awards.
Buldana Urban was established way back in 1986, by Mr. Radheshyam Devkisan Chandak. Today Buldana Urban has a network of 265 online branches across Maharashtra and a total of 353 branches. It is the first credit society to do core banking. Its deposits have exceeded 1900 crores and loan recovery is at impressive 98%. It has expanded its activities in Chhatisgarh, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Andaman & Nikobar, Goa and Madhya Pradesh.
How did he do it? He says three things–diversification, selflessness, extensive use of technology and lastly focusing on the problems of the community and developing business models around them.
It is the last mantra which has done a miracle for Buldana Urban.There was shortage of water in the area so Buldana Urban would get a RO Plant offering 15 litre mineral water at the rate of Rs 5. There is a pressing need of road , he would again construct the same and collect toll to make it viable. This way Buldana has under its portfolio schools, hostels, godowns for farmers, old-age homes, easy and cheap credit for farmers, housing societies and what not.
Zamwar’s concept of the multi-purpose cooperative was an instant hit in the area. He met Nitin Gadkari , Union Minister who heard his story open-mouthed! For the Minister was quick to realize that here lies a mantra for uplifting the poor.
Sukesh joined Buldana Urban in 2007. His father-in-law Shri Chandok was the Chairman but Zamwar worked hard for 4 years before taking over as its Managing Director. ”I had to sit with his PA and was treated on a par with other employees. It was the democratic culture of the place which inspired him with the idea of giving his best,” Sukesh reminisces.
On the issue of involving youth in the cooperative movement Jamvar admits a sorry state of the cooperative movement today does disappoint the youth. But he seems to have a formula and suggests cooperatives should have a rich portfolio to attract them. Citing the case of Budana Urban he says ”we have a wide-range of portfolios which include hospitality, farming, banking, hotel-industries and many others”.
A young one chooses any portfolio of his choice, said Zamwar who is also Chairman of the Youth Committee in the ICA (A-P). He has recently toured Sri Lanka, Bhutan and Nepal and has interacted with the young people explaining to them the merits of the cooperative movement.
He also sees the role of the media in making cooperatives attractive destinations for the youth. The success stories of cooperatives must grab the headlines to prove their worth, Zamwar suggests.
In sharp contrast to the established cooperative leadership Zamwar, however, does not expect much from the government. “The government has only to ensure an enabling framework for cooperatives to grow. Plus the government should give us jobs and start the PPP model in a meaningful way”, he added.