India’s three very best gentlemen, who have already made their mark in helping the underprivileged, are coming in unison with a philanthropic scheme that could really enhance prosperity for the poor section of our society.
A technology enabled financial inclusion vehicle, this venture goes by the name of Avanti Finance and is supported by three strong pillars - Industrialist and Chairman Emeritus of Tata Trust, Ratan Tata; Infosys co-founder Nandan Nilekani; and Former Finance Commission Chairman Vijay Kelkar. The three of them are setting up a micro-finance company, which will be focused on delivering affordable and timely credit to under-served and un-served segments in India.
Planning to establish operations before the end of the financial year, Avanti will be backed by Tata’s experience who has been actively engaged in several initiatives of the Tata Trusts since his retirement. His endeavours in the last few years have been focused on creating a sustainable model for interventions, which have lasting impact on communities, especially the under-privileged and the deprived. He, along with Nilenkani will bring in the investments from their respective philanthropic capital, and any gains will be reinvested in philanthropic causes. Kelkar will bring forth his knowledge of financial institutions and the trio will be joined by R Venkataramanan, the Managing Trustee of Tata Trusts, as one of the founding-directors of the firm.
Thanking Dr. Kelkar and Nandan for agreeing to be part of this purpose driven initiative, Tata spoke about how he believes Avanti to be a platform that would ‘impact the poor through credit at individual and community levels to create a lasting improvement in their livelihoods and standard of living, ushering prosperity.’
A senior leadership team with experience in Technology, Microfinance, Enterprise Risk Management, Credit Operations and Customer Service, Leadership and Strategy Consulting, Structured Finance and Investment Banking is in place.
What will Avanti Finance do?
The aim is to leverage on the social sector presence of Tata Trusts and other likeminded partners and the rapidly evolving India Stack (Jan Dhan – Aadhar – Mobile), UPI and payments bank ecosystem. Avanti would use this ecosystem and will innovate on product design in consonance with the indigenous needs, to deliver seamlessly for the end consumer.
The promoters strongly believe that the institutional inequalities and information asymmetries are depriving the target customer segment of access to affordable credit.
The target customer segment over the last few years has displayed very low delinquency rates compared to any other customer segment, but still is charged the highest rate of interest.
Avanti’s primary objective is to make a difference in this sphere thereby enhancing the prosperity in these communities. Nilenkani trusts technology to be that an important that will make a difference in many ways than one. He sees his participation in Avanti as more driven by social motivation rather than anything else, “with a view to serve the underserved and unserved and make the Tata Trusts and other likeminded partners philanthropy more effective,” he added.
The microfinance firm plan to start operations by March 2017 and claims to register with RBI in the coming days. Access to credit at an affordable cost is still a challenge and all foreign schemes to work in India. Given such circumstances, Avanti Finance comes as a ray of hope for millions of people in India who are really looking forward to see what change the best in the country can bring. Expectations are already high with people eyeing happy changes, something we all could use in our life.