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Accion, SAIF Partners co-invest $1 million in MSME lender Aye Finance

Tags: MSME, SME, MSME lender, Microfinance, Aye Finance, Accion Labs, SAIF Partners, MSME debt

February 24, 2015 | COMMENTS ( 0 )

Accion, SAIF Partners co-invest $1 million in MSME lender Aye Finance

Aye Finance, a Delhi-based lender that serves profitable micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs), has raised around $1 million from SAIF Partners and Accion Labs today. It aims to serve MSMEs, which are often locked out of both traditional microfinance and commercial capital.

Aye Finance was founded by two veteran bankers, Sanjay Sharma and Vikram Jetley. With the majority of India's lending based in the southern states, India's northern region is marked by sizable levels of poverty and an unorganized sector of informal moneylenders charging exorbitant interest rates.

Sanjay Sharma, Managing Director, Aye Finance Pvt Ltd said, "The 40 million organized micro-businesses are the fastest growing industrial segment, nourished by the aspirations of the Indian working classes. We offer much-needed loans and financing to micro-businesses through our insightful, segmented origination processes. Our use of new-age mobile and cloud computing lowers the delivery cost and our understanding of industry segments continue to attract a rapidly growing and loyal customer base."

Aye has seen tremendous demand for its services since launch, opening 4 branches in the last 6 months, and has already financed over 300 micro businesses. Aye Finance's clients represent a number of industries – including shoemaking, garments, textiles, leather, auto components, and others.

Accion made its investment through Venture Lab, a $10 million initiative dedicated to providing seed capital and management support to innovative startups expanding financial access to the poor and underserved. SAIF provides seed, early, and growth stage capital for emerging companies in India and China.

"MSMEs represent a highly underserved 'missing middle' market in India," said Accion President and CEO Michael Schlein. "Too small for commercial finance and too large for traditional microfinance, these entrepreneurs must make do without the working capital they need to expand their businesses, buy bulk materials, or hire new employees. Aye Finance will address that 'missing middle,' providing borrowers with the capital that all businesses need, no matter their size. Ultimately, this access to credit will help more than the MSMEs – it will also benefit the clients and employees who rely on these entrepreneurs, and the local economies that grow along with successful enterprises."

The debt gap for MSMEs in India is estimated to be $198 billion, and is increasing at 11 per cent per year, according to a report by Intellecap and the International Finance Corporation. Aye joins a number of actors attempting to serve this sector, alongside the Government's renewed focus on supporting MSMEs. By formalizing the lending process and offering secured loans as low as $1,000 at market rates, Aye Finance will address an important need, and help India's burgeoning economy on its growth path.

"By getting to know these businesses that 'cluster' together in specific neighborhoods or districts in urban areas, we believe Aye can uniquely acquire and assess customers in a low cost manner that mainstream financial institutions have so far found uneconomical. This is a subtle, but powerful innovation that will transform the approach to small businesses' finance," said Vishal Sood, Managing Director, SAIF partners.

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