I Gusti Made Oka, a BDB pioneer dies at 89

I Gusti Made Oka, the founder of Bali Dagang Bank (BDB), died Sunday at age 90.

As reported by BaliPost.com, one of the sons of the deceased, I Gusti Ngurah Oka Udayana (Dolah), confirmed the death of his father on Monday February 07, informing that the Patriarch of Oka will remain in state until February 20, 2022 at the family residence on Jalan Seruni No. 5 in Denpasar.

Current plans are for I Gusti Made Oka to be transported to Singapadu Village, Banjar Kutri, Gianyar Regency on February 21, 2022, for cremation.

Dolah said her father died of natural causes in old age. I Gusti Made Oka died at the Puri Raharja Hospital in Denpasar. “When he walked he needed help but had no health issues except that his memory had declined and he was not able to move independently,” Dolah explained.

The life of I Gusti Made Oka

A December 2000 newspaper article recounted how I Gusti Made Oka’s desire to help people fueled a career path from humble tailor to banker and founder of Bank Dagang Bali (BDB). In 1955, Oka and his wife Ketut Sri Adnyani began loaning the proceeds of their tailoring business to provide capital to other Balinese wishing to open businesses.

During the day, borrowers deposited gold with the Okas to guarantee their loans. Over time, people would also deposit their business profits with the couple, helping to establish a local loan company.

Determined to grow his financial services business, Oka tried to get more capital from Perniagaan Umum Bank (BPU). The conditions required to obtain a loan were strict and included the obligation to become a shareholder of BPUs. After obtaining shares in BPUs in 1956, Oka finally got a loan of Rp. 10,000.

As a shareholder of BPUs and forced to attend bank board meetings, Oka decided that in order to help the surrounding Bali community, he would have to start his own bank. In 1968, Oka established Pasar Umum Bank with a starting capital of Rp. 100,000, locating its bank near the main market of Denpasar.

Advertisements ran in local media and new customers flocked to become customers of Pasar Umum Bank.

Building on the success of operating a market bank, Oka decided to open a public bank. With an initial capital of Rp. 20 million, including loans from GDP Bali, on September 04, 1970, Bali Dagang Bank (BDB) opened with 30 employees.

Unfortunately, 34 years later, the operating permit for BDB was dismissed by the governor of Bank of Indonesia April 8, 2004.

I Gusti Made Oka has enjoyed a reputation for creativity and innovation in banking throughout its life. In 1982, he introduced one of the first ATMs in Bali, long before such machines became more common in Bali in the 1990s. Oka was also among the first to operate vehicles offering home banking services to their clients in Bali. He was also the pioneer “tabungan berhadiah” which gave gifts to people who opened a new account with its bank and regular raffles which allowed bank customers to win motorcycles, radios and other items. Due to its simple beginnings, Oka was among the early proponents of microfinance, now seen as essential to empowering the world’s poor and disadvantaged,

Born in Gianyar on February 12, 1939, I Gusti Made Oka died just five days before his 90th birthday. He was the father of 10 children, dozens of grandchildren and several great-grandchildren.

He is survived by his wife and lifelong companion, Ni Nyoman Sri Adnyani.

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