Ananya Birla fostering success
Within just a year since its inception, Svatantra Microfinance, founded by Ananya Birla had 10,000 customers, 51 employees, 9 running branches in two states and zero repayment default. This won the organization a Gold Award in the start-up category at the Skoch Financial Inclusion and Deepening Award in 2014. Beginning 2016, the ICRA assigned the long-term rating of ICRA A- with stable outlook for the Rs. 100.00 crore bank facilities and an MFI grade of M3+ for Svatantra’s ability to manage its micro finance activities in a sustainable manner.
THE YOUNG ENTREPRENEUR
Ananya strives towards bringing a change to the world. Starting out as an independent entrepreneur aged 17, her vision and dedication have been key to the success of her endeavors. The income divide was one of the primary reasons Ananya took to the microfinance industry, and strived to change the stigma associated with it. When the risk perception in the industry was very high, Ananya in her independent capacity, played a significant role in changing minds in the regions where Svatantra operates. Under her leadership Svatantra has won the “Gold Award for Best Start-Up” (Skoch Financial Inclusion and Deepening Awards, 2014), “Spirituality @ Work: Sach Bharat Samman” (Sach Bharat Confluence 2015) and has maintained a quality loan portfolio, offering one of the lowest interest rates in the country. In addition, Ananya has also co-founded MPower, a movement to ensure that all individuals with mental illness can live a happy and empowered life. She aims to break the stigma around mental illness through creating awareness about the issue.
Ananya is driven by hard work, values and principles. Her management style revolves around strength identification, thought building, nurturing ideas and empowering people. Undeterred by obstacles, Ananya loves a challenge and her breakthrough ideas coupled with her perseverance make for a thought leader of this generation.
Legacy is a motivator for Ananya and her family has been a huge support system through her entrepreneurial success. She takes particular interest in the start-up ecosystem and the binding theme behind her business and initiatives is accessibility – making inaccessible accessible. Based on this vision, she’ll soon be launching her second venture in ecommerce space. This premium brand will revolve around travel, design and lifestyle. Her objective is to create platforms that provide solution and simplify connectivity based problems. Ananya’s leadership approach lays an emphasis on high performance while upholding values and ensuring employee satisfaction, and she stresses on a good work-life balance. She believes in business with a heart – and believes in adhering to high levels of social responsibility.
Ananya’s passion for music keeps her engaged when she is not working. Business and music are a great combination to create and they are the most powerful tools. Her long term vision is to leverage her skills in some way. In an era when the start-up ecosystem is ever-increasing, the ability to influence a change is what will distinguish entrepreneurs from the rest. Ananya aims to inspire a change across borders.
SVATANTRA MICROFINANCE HISTORY, STRUCTURE AND POLICY
Svatantra Microfinance is an Indian microfinance organization founded by Ananya Birla, the daughter of the Indian industrialist, Kumar Mangalam Birla. The company was launched on February 17, 2012 and is among the top three micro finance companies in India today. The company received a license for the microfinance business from the Reserve Bank of India in February, 2013 and was made popular by Nobel laureate Muhammad Yunus.
The organization provides affordable financial and non-financial solutions to rural women who have taken up entrepreneurship. Svatantra offers the lowest interest rate for micro loans in the country and now operates over 40 branches in 21 districts of Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh. It offers livelihood-related loans at 22% interest rate, as compared with standard micro finance companies whose interest rates range between 25-26 %. The organization has a 100% cashless disbursement through National Electronic Funds Transfer (NEFT) and also helps its clients open bank accounts, adhering to one of its core missions of financial inclusion. Svatantra’s microcredit policy is based on a group lending model where members take unsecured loans to fund a business or other income generating activity and stand guarantee for one another in their group ensuring credit discipline and prompt repayments through peer pressure.
The company uses integrated software, developed by Infrasofttech, for its loan management and accounting requirements, with branches being fully computerized. It offers credit of as much as Rs.10,000/- to women in villages to buy sewing machines or any other item that will earn them a livelihood. Currently, the organization has 1,20,249 active clients across three states (Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh) and a total client portfolio of 128 crores.