While small enterprises are drivers of economic growth and create jobs in large numbers, the biggest hurdle they face is access to finance.
While small enterprises are drivers of economic growth and create jobs in large numbers, the biggest hurdle they face is access to finance. They need finance to purchase raw materials, pay wages, meet other working capital requirements and support expansion plans. One of the main reasons they are unable to get loans is the perceived credit risk involved in financing them. Consequently, these enterprises are compelled to resort to high cost financing from money lenders and other informal sources. To address this challenge, eight people led by Asish Mohapatra, an alumnus of IIT Kharagpur and ISB Hyderabad came together in 2015 to incorporate ‘OfBusiness’. The Gurugram-based start-up focuses on two key critical areas—financing and fulfilment. First, it brings in institutional credit—both secured and unsecured—to SMEs at lower cost. Second, it aggregates raw material sourcing and passes on most of the aggregation benefits like volume discounts from manufacturers to the SMEs.
“We bring SMEs into the financial mainstream by providing purchase financing of raw materials, which is 60-70% of the SMEs’ total cost. We have built flexible financing products aligned to SMEs’ cash flow cycles for traditional sectors like manufacturing and infrastructure enabling access to institutional credit, both secured and unsecured, as an alternate to financing by local distributors and financiers, which is at a much higher cost to the SME,” said OfBusiness co-founder and CEO, Asish Mohapatra.
OfBusiness has received Series A funding of $5 million from Matrix and a few angels, followed by Series B funding of around $11 million from Zodius and Matrix in November 2016. Disbursals on the platform have grown to `40 crore per month in 17 months of operation. NPAs have consistently reduced since growth, to a net NPA of 0.8% now. The start-up aims to expand from current 22 clusters to 50 in the next year. “We would also be penetrating deeper in newer sub-segments like chemicals and packaging, along with raising both debt and equity funding,” said Mohapatra.