Fusion Microfinance: Unlocking India’s growth potential with empowerment of women entrepreneurship
Women entrepreneurship as a concept has been embraced by the whole world considering the vital role its untapped potential plays in economic development of a nation.However, a deep analysis clearly reveals that in developing economies the participation of women in entrepreneurship has beenpredominantly minimal as compared to that of men. There have been several factors responsible for low presence of women entrepreneurs in business scenario and majority of them are rooted in the orthodox and traditional socio-cultural environment. One of the most prominent hurdles is the lack of finance that curbs growth of their enterprise. Especially, women entrepreneurs from rural communities apparently face a horde of challenges to seek credit for their business on the grounds of prejudiced mindset of local authorities and unauthorized lending groups coupled with a lack of information on where credit can be sought.
Realization of this huge gap fueled passionate entrepreneurial desire in Devesh Sachdev, an accomplished veteranand an influentialleader, and motivated him to work towards empowerment of underprivileged women in the society by creating specialized economic opportunities for them. Fusion Microfinance Private Limited was incorporated in 2010 as NBFC – MFI (Non Banking Financial Company – Micro Finance institution) for providing flexible and cutting edge financial solutions & services to serve women entrepreneurs from the socially and economically deprived strata of the society. Contribution towards nation building through women empowerment has been the cornerstone of the company’s foundation.
During a conversation with The CEO Magazine, Mr. Sachdev speaks about the ideation of the company, “In 2009-10, almost 60% of the population was underbanked. Fusion was formed to become a medium that can bridge this gap. We wanted to create opportunities for the unbanked women clients enabling them to channelize their true potential. The commercially sustainable model of the Microfinance Sector was a good medium to reach out to the underbanked woman entrepreneurs. These women entrepreneurs had the potential to further churn out employment opportunities by their ventures. This induced a formal structure in the lives of the economically active women while making them financially literate.This was the primary goal behind setting up Fusion. The secondary goal was to create job prospects and foster competitiveness in the remote areas. The rural and semi-urban areas in India have always witnessed a dearth of jobs with agriculture being the chief occupation. Fusion opened the door of employment for the youth in these areas giving them an opportunity to become self-reliant and live with pride.”
Fusion Microfinance surfaced at a time when few players in the financial services market catered to rural community as a whole. The radical and progressive concept was eyed by several like-minded equity and debt providers. Fusion began its journey with Incofin, a Belgium based impact fund as its first equity partner and continued to partner with marquee investors like NMI, BIO, OIKO Credit and Creations Investments on the board. “We also have funding from Indian Microfinance Equity Fund,a Government set up specialized microfinance fund. On the other side, we have a list of very strong lenders supporting usfrom the Public Sector including SIDBI, NABARD, MUDRA,IDBI and SBI. We have large private sector banks like HDFC, Axis, Ratnakar and various other financial institutionsthat have been crucial players in raising our debt capital.We have cumulatively raised $ 325 million the form of Debt Capital since our inception”, says Mr. Sachdev apprising us about the company’s investors and funding.
Today, Fusion thrives as one among the ‘top ten Micro Finance Institutions in India’ for its remarkable as well as unprecedented approach and its outstanding performance towards uplifting women communities through promoting and supporting women entrepreneurship in rural India. Fusion’s journey that stretches seven years has been successful in fetching happiness to more than a million clients across 14 States through cumulative disbursal of INR 3,000 crores.With a strong presence Pan India, the company has prominently carved a niche for itself with a robust portfolio that offers a broad spectrum of flexible financial products that operate on the time-tested Grameen Joint Liability Group (JLG) model and are developed to fulfil clients’ specific needs. Fusion’s unique suite of products encompasses a bouquet of Income Generation Loans and emergency Loans that are offered with Life insurance for both the Client and her Spouse. In case of unfortunate event of death of either client or her husband, the company not only waives off the principal due on the client but also returns the principal repaid to the client or her nominee. Fusion’s uncompromised focus on client centricity reflects in its services. The company stands as a frontrunner in this space conducting financial literacy programs in conjunction with the door step delivery of financial services towards making a difference in their lives by enabling them to reach their true potential.
- Recognition for Cashless endeavors in 15th Asian Network of Quality Congress held in Kathmandu
- ‘Business World Digital India Award 2017’ for the usage of Information Communication and Technology (ICT) in Rural Development.
- 92% score in Code of Conduct Assessment in May 2017 against the guidelines of unified code of conduct, RBI FPC and RBI guidelines for NBFC-MFI
- ‘Super Achiever’s Award 2016’ under BFSI category instituted by Stars of the Industry Group, Mumbai
- Client Protection Certification from Client Protection Principles – SMART CAMPAIGN for embedding client protection practices into the organizational culture and meeting strong standards of client care in Aug 2016
- ‘Best MFI of the year 2014 Award’ at ‘Microfinance India Awards 2014’ instituted by ACCESS
- Listed in India’s 25 leading MFIs by CRISIL in 2014
The leadership behind the Success
Devesh Sachdev – Founder & Chief Executive Officer at Fusion Microfinance is an XLRI Post Graduate with a profound experience spanning more than one and a half decades in the Service Industry. During his stint with BSA, now a reputed logistics entity, his leadership qualities have been instrumental in spearheading growth for the company and establishing it as the Market Leader in its segment. Devesh has a proven track record of being a multi-dimensional leader with thought leadership. Amongst the diverse experiences, his expertise lies in building business, managing large teams in a cost-efficient manner, strategy, key relationship management and handling all dimensions of the business. Under his leadership, Fusion has grown into one of the leading microfinance institutions and continues to expand its operations. He is also the Vice President of MFIN, a Self-Regulatory Organization for NBFC-MFIs. MFIN works closely with regulators and other key stakeholders and plays an active part in the larger financial inclusions dialogue through the medium of microfinance.
During an interview with The CEO Magazine, Mr. Devesh Sachdev speaks about the key aspects concerning his leadership and the company’s growth. Here are some excerpts…
TCM: Fusion has gained massive recognition in the Indian financial services landscape. What are the key differentiators that set Fusion apart from others?
Mr. Sachdev:Fusion,as an Organizationcreates differentiation by having a very committed teamthat brings a lot of knowledge and passion to serve the clients who are in the bottom of the pyramid. We believe in a balanced and responsible growth strategy that adds value to all the Stakeholders with clients in the centre. Growing with responsibility, we are very high on governance mechanism and transparent policieskeeping customer centricity as the key in all our endeavours.Due to our dynamic workforce, we understand the macro environment of our Clients. This enables us to step in theshoesof our clients, allowing us to provide them customized solutions as per their requirements.Within the Microfinance Sector, we are one of the youngest companiesamongst the top 10. We strongly believe in risk diversification and have an even spread of our portfolio. We ensure to maintain equilibrium with our geographical presence in 186 districts spread across 14 Indian states. We express our gratitude to over a Million Clients we cater to as our relationship gets stronger with each passing day. They all have contributed in makingus a reliable brand.
TCM: What does the future hold for the company?
Mr. Sachdev: Fusion stands committed to leverage the Jan Dhan, Aadhar and Mobile (JAM) platformtowards bringing out efficient value-added services to our clients. We continuously aim to provide seamless financial services to the Clients. Moving in this direction, Fusion has started strategic projects operating on Lean Six Sigma Project methodology.
The continuous improvement journey at Fusion has always focussed on customer efficiency. We have been conducting campaigns towardsgenerating awareness about the Digital Payment Platforms.Under customer efficiency projects we have linked more than 90% of our Clients with Aadhar. In addition, we are driving a behavioural change in our Clients to inculcate banking habits in the. Today 60% of our Clients avail Cashless Disbursements through collaborated efforts put in the first phase of the Project. We are currently in Phase II driving awareness campaigns on the Digital Payment Platforms. Ideation and implementation of Digital Branches is another step in this direction which operates on 100% cashless disbursement model. As a part of the project, Fusion team assisted the clients in opening new bank accounts. The rigor has resulted in happy and satisfied clients who are slowly and steadily coming at par in terms of digital payments.
TCM: What is your favourite aspect of being a CEO?
Mr. Sachdev:As a CEO, I feel blessed to get the support from the people. I have the leverage to experiment solutions which are otherwise deemed unconventional. From time immemorial the principles of tenacity, discipline and ethics have stayed relevant in measures of success.
Words of Wisdom
“Keep the nerves of steel with an appetite for risk and never compromise short term for the long term; become dynamic and future ready through persistence and patiencein your endeavours; and be flexible to change gears and open to shuffle your goal priorities in today’s volatile market” – says Devesh Sachdev – Founder & CEO at Fusion Microfinance