Tech-driven Light Microfinance raises ₹196 crores in Series B Funding
Ahmedabad, September 22: Light Microfinance, one of the fastest growing MFIs in India, has raised ₹196 crores in Series B funding led by British International Investment (BII), the UK’s development finance institution (DFI) and impact investor. All three of the Company’s existing investors Nordic Microfinance Initiative (NMI), Triple Jump BV and Incofin IM, also participated in this round.
Light founder and MD Deepak Amin says, “BII is one of the world’s leading impact investors. Having a marquee investor like BII lead our Series B investment places Light very strongly for its continued rapid growth. I would like to thank our existing investors Incofin IM, Triple Jump BV and NMI for reposing their confidence and trust in us again. The investment is the result of Light’s commitment to robust risk management and to technology and innovation while delivering reliable finance towards inclusive growth.” The funding will be utilized for geographical expansion into new states to diversify the company’s product lines and continued investments in technology and digital initiatives.
Manav Bansal, Managing Director and Head of India, British International Investment, said, “I am thrilled that BII’s patient and flexible capital will back India’s microfinance sector, which we see as critical to boosting financial inclusion by increasing access to finance for women in rural areas and promoting women’s economic empowerment. Our partnership with Light will ensure customers can access financial products that support income-generating activities and increase productivity while improving financial security and promoting sustainable economic growth within communities and across the country.”
Deepak said, “India continues to see a huge demand for financial services, especially in rural India as households try to recover from financial difficulties faced by them due to the pandemic and at the same time get integrated into the mainstream Indian economy. India has recently become the fifth largest economy in the world and is growing at a very fast pace. Light aims to be a key pillar of this growth story by delivering timely, high-quality financial services to its customers.”
Light Co-founder and CEO Rakesh Kumar said, “It is our strong focus on the customer together with the risk management that has allowed the company to grow at such a phenomenal rate while continuing to have one of the industry’s best asset quality, something that we have maintained in every one of the last 16 quarters.” He added that the company will be rapidly expanding its fintech offerings too, including digital-only products and has a multi-year roadmap.
Arthur Sletteberg, NMI Managing Director, said, “Light’s asset quality and ability to serve their clients during challenging times is impressive. The Company demonstrated a yearly 90% growth ending June 2022 while maintaining a low-risk portfolio, which shows its deployment of robust risk management systems. We are eager to continue to support and cooperate with Light on their journey to grow social and economic inclusion for their clients.”
Light Co-founder and CFO Aviral Saini said, “Our customers are leaving an adequate digital footprint through relevant technology adoption enabling us to deploy AI/ML-driven underwriting and significantly ramp up productivity through strategic technology interventions. Light has been on the leading edge in using technology and analytics to bring cost-effective, customer-centric innovation in products and operations. This investment will help us rapidly diversify into new products, including digital-only loans, while expanding our geographical footprint. The new RBI guidelines for fintech put Light in a very advantageous position with its strong balance sheet, customer base, technology and risk management capabilities.”
Triple Jump’s Head of Equity, Orsolya Farkas, said, “Light’s growth trajectory over the past years has been very impressive, particularly considering the challenges, such as the lockdown, the Indian microfinance sector faced during the pandemic. The institution’s focus on maintaining excellent asset quality by identifying the right trends and technology interventions, makes Light an important strategic partner.”
Light Microfinance was founded in 2009 by Deepak Amin (MD), Rakesh Kumar (CEO) and Aviral Saini (CFO). It is headquartered in Ahmedabad and has operations across Gujarat, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Haryana. The company has been making significant investments in building its proprietary analytics platform which has already started yielding rich dividends for the company. The company doubled its assets under management (AUM) to over ₹1300 crores and over 3 lakh customer base spread across 68 districts in 4 states. The company closed its Series B funding just over a year after its earlier Series A funding where it had raised ₹75 crores. (https://lightfinance.com/blog/press-releases/)
Even during a time of extreme stress faced by the industry due to the pandemic, Light grew its AUM by over 90%, as compared to the industry growth of 25% comprising banks, small finance banks and NBFCs. The company has one of the best asset qualities in the industry and has maintained its portfolio delinquency PAR>30 at 5.0% and PAR>90 at 4.0%, while Equifax data had pegged the industry’s PAR>30 at 14.7% and PAR>90 at 11.9%. Light Microfinance has been rated BBB by CRISIL and M1 grade by SMERA Ratings.
Brief about Investors:
British International Investment
British International Investment is the UK’s development finance institution and impact investor. British International Investment is a trusted investment partner to businesses in Africa, Asia and the Caribbean. It invests between £1.5 and £2 billion every year to support the UK Government’s Clean Green Initiative and to create productive, sustainable and inclusive economies in our markets.
Nordic Microfinance Initiative
Nordic Microfinance Initiative (NMI) is a Norwegian public-private partnership investing in institutions building financial inclusion in Asia and Africa. Both positive social impact and sustainable financial returns are targeted, and NMI focuses on active value creation through both equity and debt investments. Investors include the Norwegian and Danish governmental funds for developing countries (Norfund and IFU) and private financial institutions and family offices from Norway and Denmark.
Triple Jump B.V.
Triple Jump is a Dutch impact-focused investment manager that provides meaningful and responsible investment opportunities in emerging markets. Funds managed and advised by Triple Jump provide financing across development themes such as financial inclusion, affordable housing, missing middle finance (SMEs), and climate and nature.
Incofin Investment Management
Incofin manages funds and investments in emerging countries driven by a desire to promote inclusive progress. Founded in 2001, its investors are leading development banks, insurance companies, pension funds, alternative investment funds, HNIs and retail investors.
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