COVID-19 achieved the unthinkable: it expedited digitalization by more than a decade across sectors and industries. Due to restrictions and social distancing conventions, even small companies and kiranas have chosen to go digital. Accepting online payments, ordering supplies online, controlling inventories, and more were all part of the package.
All of it, though, came with its own set of difficulties. Despite a dynamic startup ecosystem in the country, sometimes finding funds and investors for small business entrepreneurs in the growth phase is still a challenge. Here are five organizations that are providing solutions and facilitating financial uplift for small businesses by providing low-interest loans and on-demand financing for working capital. They also offer expert guidance on how to invest money and timely bill payment alerts to help people maintain clean credit histories to qualify for larger loans.
StoreKing, a rural retail ecosystem that connects suppliers and financial institutions to rural consumers with Kirana as an anchor, also leverages the retail/kirana stores to cater to the rural masses, by connecting them with NBFC lenders, who are otherwise inaccessible to the village folks. StoreKing has already established a network of 25000 kirana stores, which will be utilized to connect rural folks to NBFC lenders. StoreKing has so far disbursed 120 crores worth of loans and has also had a remarkable collection percentage of more than 99.6%.
Progcap (Desiderata Impact Ventures Private Limited) is a mission-driven, inclusive financing technology firm working to unlock the transformational impact of millions of micro and small enterprises in the last mile by providing them affordable, customized finance and digitizing their supply chains. Progcap uses a mix of technology and its unique delivery model to underwrite credit and thus provide the under-banked semi-urban and rural retailers in India access to flexible, collateral-free working capital.
Sub-K is a digital finance (Fintech) company that offers affordable, accessible, and scalable financial and payment services to rural/urban areas that have difficulty accessing the traditional financial models. They seek to bridge the digital divide, and create a ‘financially included’ society, through a robust and widespread retail distribution network and in-house Fintech solutions. Sub-K creates a high-tech-high-touch operating infrastructure at the last mile to deliver meaningful financial services through a capital-light model and a wide distribution network. They also offer savings, credit, remittance, insurance, G2C, and B2C payments as a channel partner for formal financial institutions. Unlike single product FinTechs and exclusive digital platforms, Sub-K’s innovation lies in offering diversified financial services through digital solutions coupled with list mile connectivity. As a result, their services are cost-effective, customer-centric, highly accessible, and crafted according to the needs of the financially and digitally excluded population.
ShopKirana is a B2B – commerce that started with a vision to empower millions of retailers which connects 1.2 Bn+ population of India in terms of trade. The company is focused on technology and supply chain innovation that aims to empower retailers to be competitive by providing technology, operational expertise, and scale advantage. Idea is to partner with millions of retailers (by becoming part of their supply chain) and making it the biggest and quickest go-to-market channel for products and services. ShopKirana directly works with brands to give them a boost on the demand side and reach to masses with transparency and deep market intelligence.
OkCredit is a part of the Ok network – an ecosystem of apps aimed at digitising small and medium businesses (SMBs) across India. With technology that is simple and easy to access, the startup is solving various pain points in everyday functioning of small business owners, be it tracking their accounts, managing staff at their set-up or the need to go online. Ok network’s first product- OkCredit was launched in 2017 by Harsh Pokharna, Gaurav Kumar and Aditya Prasad. OkCredit has given a complete digital makeover to the traditional register book – ‘Bahi/Udhar Khata’ and made the daily bookkeeping task simpler and effective for millions of small businesses. The app not just helps small businesses keep track of credit transactions – both payments and receivables, it sends timely reminders and also makes it easier for them to collect and settle balance amounts quickly. The app has seen more than 20 million downloads.
Banco Santander financing agreement will support fonYou’s ambitious growth strategy and accelerate international market expansion
Fintech innovator fonYou today announces that it has secured €7 Million in growth funding from Banco Santander’s Smart Fund, in a financing deal that will support fonYou’s future technology development and market expansion as it rolls out its innovative fintech solutions across key regions – including Latin America and Europe, the Middle East and Africa.
The new framework finance agreement will fund fonYou’s ambitious product development programme and strategic roadmap, as it expands its sector focus beyond telecoms to integrated digital finance enablement across global fintech and ecommerce markets. fonYou’s innovation roadmap is focused on delivering new technologies to enable the deployment of embedded finance solutions – including instant payment, “Buy Now, Pay Later” and emerging credit modalities – in partnership with connected mobile operators, ecommerce, and the wider global banking ecosystem.
Harnessing its vast experience built delivering AI-driven data analytics and digital transformation solutions to power revenue growth within the telecoms sector, fonYou is ideally positioned to address the needs of multiple vertical markets that are seeking to enable frictionless, digital financial transactions in real-time at mass scale.
Fernando Núñez-Mendoza, Co-Founder and CEO of fonYou commented: “This milestone financing secured from Banco Santander’s Smart Fund is a clear expression of confidence in our business – recognising the very significant market opportunities presented by the high-growth digital finance sector, which our innovative, AI and ML-driven fintech solutions are uniquely placed to serve. We are in a unique position to take advantage of these opportunities with our multi-industry Fintech solutions based on Cloud and Artificial Intelligence. With the support of the Smart Fund, we will accelerate the expansion of our team and drive product development, as well as our international commercial strategic plan. Our first objective is to provide a new generation of users with access to the digital economy and e-commerce through open, secure financial solutions designed for mobile devices.
Banco Santander’s Smart Fund is an exclusive financing initiative that supports eligible SMEs in the development and execution of strategic growth plans for sustainable, innovative digital initiatives with strong job creation potential. With an allocation of EUR 1.12 million, the Smart Fund is supported by the INNOVFIN SME Guarantee, which is financially supported by the European Union in the context of the Horizon 2020 Financial Instruments program.
About fonYou (www.fonyou.com)
fonYou is a multi-award-winning fintech company that provides cutting-edge payment and lending platforms to enable telecom operators, financial institutions, and brands to manage their business online. The company is working with the world’s largest telecom operators serving more than 300 million consumers. fonYou´s headquarters are in Barcelona, Spain and it has operations offices across Latin America and Africa.
fonYou is building the future with fintech.
For further information please contact:
PR for fonYou
+44 118 328 2782
Caspian Equity a leading Impact investing company founded by Viswanatha Prasad, today announced the appointment of Saurabh Johri as Executive Director and CEO. Caspian Equity invests early-stage equity in Food and Agriculture, Renewable Energy and Financial Inclusion sectors. Caspian Equity was set up in 2004- and till date has set up 3 Equity funds viz. Bellwether Microfinance Fund, India Financial Inclusion Fund, SME Impact Fund IV. Over the last 17 years, Caspian Equity has attracted funding from Development Finance Institutions, Family offices and HNIs and having invested in Food & Agriculture, Small Medium Enterprise and Financial Inclusion sectors returned over USD 180 Mn to investors
Viswanatha Prasad, Managing Director, had set up Caspian Equity for investing in enterprises that address the problems of access and efficiency in business ecosystems that have a positive social or environmental impact. Caspian Announcing the appointment Prasad said, “ I am very pleased to have Saurabh Johri join us as CEO of Caspian Equity, who has been with us for over 3 years in the capacity of Group CFO. This appointment heralds our renewed focus on bringing more capital and expertise to entrepreneurs by banking on our combined experience of working with early-stage impact enterprises. I believe under the able leadership of Saurabh, Caspian Equity will strengthen its team and its footprint in the impact investing sector.
Saurabh Johri who comes with diverse experience of working with start-ups, and in renowned organisations like Infosys Technologies Limited and Jana Small Finance Bank, till recently as a CFO of Caspian Group, said, “I am very excited about the new responsibility, having known Prasad, Ravi and Caspian team for over 10 years, I am looking forward to developing the institution further. We will build on the traditional strengths of Caspian by leveraging grassroot connects with entrepreneurs and delivering on both impact and financial metrices to the investors.
Ravi Narasimham, Investment Director, Caspian Equity who brings with him over 20 years of experience in impact investing and Fund Manager SME Equity fund said, “Saurabh comes with a rich experience that is a combination of corporate and of impact space. I hope Caspian Equity will cross important milestones under his leadership and my wishes are with him in this journey“
This appointment will be effective from December 9th.
WIN took forward the conversation on bolstering home-grown brands, small businesses and women entrepreneurs paving way for thoughtful leadership, in collaboration with Aazol Ventures Pvt. Ltd., presenting an exceptional panel discussion with some of India’s renowned female changemakers and trailblazers.
An in-depth, live discussion took place across platforms, a panel comprising of Harpreet Suri – renowned mom-blogger and influencer, Mrs. India mentor; in addition to Apurva Purohit – leading Businesswoman, author, Founder: Aazol Ventures Pvt. Ltd., – Amrita Chowdhury – a business strategist, engineer & innovator; Meghna Ghai Puri – Educationalist, President of Whistling Woods Organization; Mansi Zaveri – Actor, Podcaster, Founder of Kids Stop Press; Kanisha Malhotra – Entrepreneur, Actor, Influencer and Filmmaker; and Stuti Jalan – Founder of Women Inspiring Network. The discussion was aimed at taking forward the conversation on the growing prominence of home-grown brands. The live session was cross streamed on Thoughtful Leadership and Entrepreneurship with Aazol, which has garnered more than 15,300 views across platforms.
Leveraging the influence of key note speakers such as Kanisha Malhotra with over 3.7mn followers, Mansi Zaveri with 190K followers, Whistling Woods 157K followers and Amrita Chowdhary with 22K followers, the session effectively engaged their followers and boosted awareness amongst thought leaders and a younger demographic.
Apurva Purohit, founder of Aazol stated, “I think the pandemic resulted in a lot of inequality in the system between the haves and have nots, between rural and urban, between educated and non-educated, between men and women. So, I think any person who lives in fairness. Has to really reflect that what can I do? And we have been so blessed in the resources that we have got and, in the experience, we’ve got, the education we’ve got. It is our job. It is our job to create impact, how do we create impact? Whether it is for one person or whether it is for hundred women or a million women. I think our company came in at that moment where we realise that rural India’s stressed. So, we have tied up with self-help groups to buy some incredible food products that they are making all over rural Maharashtra and bring it to urban consumers. From the urban consumer end, I think the need that the pandemic sort of hit upon was a need for more healthy living, mindful living, eating local and again whatever is happening in climate change. One of the big messages ah the universe is throwing at all of us is how do we live a more sustainable life and local cuisine which is healthier, more sustainable in terms of the farming and also is fulfilling the, the inequality that that that is existing by ensuring that income goes to rural self-help groups. I think that was really the thought that ah the vision of Azul was born with.” Women are great agents of change, especially in leadership positions. They lead with compassion, unwavering sense of intuition and meticulous organization. They bring in far-reaching benefits of diversity and gender parity in leadership and decision-making environments.
The default gender of leadership is male. Women entrepreneurs in India often do not want to label themselves as ‘women leaders’ but they are the need of the hour. We need to establish women leadership, we need to show that we are better leaders, we need others to know of our presence. We do not need to compete but we need to show that, if she can, then so can I. Collaborate to help each of us to grow. We need to end the notion that women are against women when in reality women are more than happy to help each other. Women entrepreneurs in world share the same experience when it comes to their skills.Women’s entrepreneurship and leadership skills are always questioned and the only way out of this it by joining hands and walking together.
Both the discussions were essentially conducted, in an effort to celebrate home-grown brands, small business and business owners, and the very spirit and essence of female entrepreneurship and the future of enterprising, aspiring women looking to take the entrepreneurial plunge. The symposiums aimed to give some refreshing new outlooks and stances with respect to how today’s leading changemakers view the electrifying and absolutely empowering wave of female entrepreneurship across the country. The sessions also shed light on matters, such as key motivators for small business-owners, bringing back cultural nostalgia with domestic brands, contributing factors to promising growth in the number of female entrepreneurs, essence of women entrepreneurship in the society, valuable insights for individuals looking to embark on the journey of entrepreneurship, etc. Each panellist brought forth a unique perspective to the table. Amrita Chowdhury, talked about how progress does not happen by being balanced. As women expectations on us are far harsher, we are expected to balance everything. It is okay to accept a little imbalance in life. Accept you need to be unbalanced in few aspects of your life. All you need to show is impact, and impact is the product of growth, so demand impact.
Kanisha Malhotra shared her experience of building a brand “As an influencer, earlier, I used to just concentrate on my content. But since the pandemic I have also come up with ideas of my own business and everything. So social media in a way has been a really big support for all of us. Specially the small businesses and entrepreneurs because, I didn’t have a website to start with. So, I started making content, I started putting things on my Instagram handle or Facebook handle. So that’s where I started getting orders. So now also Facebook so many groups which you know really help you grow as a as an entrepreneur.” Entrepreneur, educationalist and director, Meghna Ghai Puri shared about her journey, saying that, “I think believing in yourself is so important. I think a lot of women do not believe in their own potential. It may seem so difficult to actually put into action. But, please believe in yourself, have the courage to face ups and downs.”
Renowned mom blogger, content creator and Mrs. India mentor, Harpreet Suri, stated that, “I come from a very conservative family. I never thought that I would be able to do something worthwhile in life. However, I changed the game, and chose to become the heroine of my own life.” Sharing an interesting story from her life, Mansi Zaveri told mothers to feel guilty about their choices, “So, you know one day, my husband and I were putting the kids to bed. It’s a ritual that we never let go. And we just asked both my girls so what you want to do when you grow up? Just as bed time conversation, and they said we want to run Kidstoppress. And my husband said nobody wants to do what daddy is doing. They like no, you know your job is very boring and we want to run. And trust me, all the guilt that I pent up over all of the years, the days that I am feeling like I am the worst mom, just flew into thin air. I just think that I can say, dude, I have, I am building a legacy business, right? So, it’s, it’s these small joys, right?”
Stuti Jalan, founder of Women Inspiring Network, stated that “The role of Women entrepreneurs in the nation’s economic development is inevitable. Women are willingly taking up business and contributing to the nation’s growth. Their role needs to be increasingly recognized and wholehearted steps need to be taken to promote women entrepreneurship.”
GoKwik an e-commerce enablement company has announced GoKwik Shopping Festival (GSF) from 3rd-5th December. GoKwik Shopping Festival is India’s first-ever shopping festival exclusively designed for D2C brands. With GSF, GoKwik aims to further drive the growing D2C movement in India. The festival will bring together leading D2C brands such as The Man Company, Man Matters, Beardo, Plix Life, Limeroad, Be Bodywise, Noise, Neeman’s, Fabric Pandit, Faces Canada, Zapvi, Otipy, Casekaro, Oziva, Sanfe, Melangebox, BoAt, The Souled Store, Arata, Freecultr, Chemist At play, Welly, Supertails, Damensch, Evolve snacks, Assembly, Almo, Setu, Zymrat and many more under one roof.
With GSF, brands will get access to a pool of new customers and will be able to communicate their offerings to them directly. Customers will also be able to enjoy heavy discounts of up to 60% exclusive on CoD and UPI orders on their favourite products across beauty, fashion, grooming, health and wellness, electronics, essentials, footwear and more. Apart from discounts, the festival will also see some new product launches by leading brands. The three-day festival aims to cement the customer relationship with D2C brands and help to increase their Gross Merchandise Value (GMV) by 4x while aiming to increase conversion by 2x.
India is seeing a D2C revolution as many customers across Tier 1, Tier 2 and Tier 3 and even Tier 4 cities and towns are now preferring to shop directly from the brand’s website. Given this GoKwik has also launched the #CelebrateD2C campaign and roped in actors Esha Deol, Zareen Khan, Rithvik Dhanjani, Krystle D’Souza, Simran Dhanwani and Kiku Sharda to promote & draw attention to these new-age brands. This campaign celebrates the magnanimity of D2C brands and their lightning-fast growth. It also aims to bring D2C brands together in an attempt to create a unified D2C ecosystem.
Commenting on this festival, Chirag Taneja, Founder & CEO, GoKwik, said, “We have always been about celebrating D2C. As the D2C ecosystem is thriving more than ever, we couldn’t wait to celebrate the massive growth and evolution this sector has seen. Every brand is giving its unique contribution to the overall economy of India and supporting these brands is of prime importance to us. With GoKwik Shopping Festival, we are attempting to further broaden their horizon and offer them a platform to meet their customers in an unrestrained, unique and first of its kind way. We are positive this will be beneficial for both brands and customers and will further strengthen the standing of the D2C eCommerce space.”
Marmik Mankodi, Director – Marketing at Mosaic Wellness said, “It brings us immense pleasure to be partnering with a D2C industry enabler like GoKwik in their flagship shopping festival. We expect to grow our new customers by ~2x during this shopping festival. While attracting new customers to the platform is essential, the fest also sheds light on how different brands have evolved & created beautiful D2C business.”
Taran Chhabra, Founder, Neeman’s, said, “We are excited to be part of the GoKwik Shopping Festival. The festival looks promising, and with it, we hope to reach a significantly newer customer base. Also, people will get a chance to explore Neeman’s different range of footwear that is designed to make them and the planet look good.”
Hitesh Sharma, Head DTC, Faces Canada said, “We are excited that the D2C category ecosystem is finally becoming strong. This event is testimony to this. We look at this event as an opportunity to reach the large community of online shoppers”.
GoKwik believes in a ‘Merchant-First’ philosophy. With its initial products, GoKwik has been solving two very crucial problems, Return to Origin (RTO) and Conversion Rates, for eCommerce players including traditionally offline businesses, new age D2C brands, and large marketplaces. GoKwik uses its proprietary AI/ML models to help reduce Return to Origin (RTO orders) & increase Cash on Delivery (CoD) conversion rates and its checkout and UPI solutions help improve checkout conversion rates ensuring higher GMV realization, increased profitability, reduced Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC), and increased delivery rates. Clients like The Man Company, Man Matters, Bodywise, Vmart, and V2Retail are already seeing a reduction in RTO after deploying GoKwik’s proprietary AI/ML solutions.
GoKwik has recently raised INR 112 crores ($15 Million) in a Series A round led by Sequoia Capital India.
Esper, the leading DevOps platform for edge devices, announced a key addition to its leadership team in Sudhir Reddy as SVP of Engineering. Reddy will lead the expansion of the engineering team in Seattle and Bangalore and spearhead continued innovation in the Esper platform.
As the previous Global Vice President of Engineering of Chef Software, a pioneer in DevOps acquired by Progress in 2020 for $220M, Sudhir Reddy brings extensive experience building and leading globally dispersed engineering teams. [In his tenure at Chef, he scaled the Bangalore team of 15 to over 100 engineers.] Reddy’s 26 years of experience includes leading all aspects of software engineering, including DevOps, product strategy and management, architecture, quality engineering, and information development and spanned companies such as Intuit and Oracle.
On the heels of the recent series C round, which brings Esper’s total funding to $100 million, and the announcement of the strategic partnership with Lenovo, Esper has grown revenue by 4x and more than doubled the global team.
“Reddy brings expertise in optimizing the expansion of an engineering team that delivers product innovation and building large-scale DevOps platforms,” said Yadhu Gopalan, Co-Founder and CEO of Esper. “This addition to our leadership team will position us well for our continued fast paced growth.”
“I’m thrilled to join Esper at this stage of growth,” said Reddy. “Esper’s obsession with customers and their success aligns with my passion for leveraging customer insights and empathy to drive the entire software development process.”
Born and raised in Bangalore, Reddy has strong roots in India. Reddy received a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Bangalore Institute of Technology and completed an executive program in business management at IIM Bangalore.
Esper offers a DevOps SaaS platform for intelligent edge devices. As the industry’s leading solution for Android DevOps, Esper is on a mission to let software teams ship without worrying about the hardware. Esper’s device infrastructure enables developers, mid-market organizations, and enterprise fleets of 100,000+ devices to deliver their software as a service. Esper has rapidly-growing global customer adoption among some of the world’s most innovative major brands in retail, hospitality, logistics, healthcare, education and more. For more information visit: https://esper.io.