India is the world’s largest diversified democracy, where people from every sect, religion, class stay in harmony. But ever thought about the 260 million marginalized (2014 figure) community, what problems they go through especially financially? Upliftment of this community is quite necessary for India to be a developed nation.
With a view of empowering the low-income marginalized communities in India, Pahal was started almost a decade ago. Today it is India’s one of the fastest-growing companies providing microfinance services to marginalized and low-income households. Registered with Reserve Bank Of India as a Non-Banking Financial Services Company, Pahal currently has 175 branches in 7 Indian states with a network of 1600 employees. With loans provided to more than 8 lakh households from the marginalized communities, Pahal is uplifting them economically which improved their way of life.
Founded by Kartik Mehta, who is a Chartered Accountant with more than 30 years of experience in the finance and banking sector. He has worked in multiple roles like corporate finance, treasury management, retail banking & distribution, agriculture credit & priority sector, and microfinance. For the past decade, he has focused on the microfinance sector and he is using his skills for the betterment of marginalized communities.
Recently, Pahal raised a debt capital of 5 million USD from WaterEquity, a USA-based impact investment asset manager. WaterEquity is focused on solving urgent global issues like clean water, similar to that concept Pahal’s initiative ‘WASH’ which is water, Sanitation, and Hygiene. This also includes in line with the norms of “Swachh Bharat” mission, which is also a very important aspect in terms of human development.
‘We work in a lot of villages where people don’t have access to proper sanitation. When we raise some funding, we make sure that some part of it goes to that initiative and water equity is at the forefront in the world; supporting such initiatives and it is quite a big achievement for us to raise such funding’, adds Mr. Mehta
Mr. Mehta on following the sustainable goals says, ‘The biggest change is awareness, it was such a basic thing but it gained a lot of momentum after 2014. It is everywhere now; it is kind of a mission where stakeholders are eyeing it as an important issue for development. And obviously, it has benefits to good health, which leads to better productivity. The UN predicts, by 2030 people should be self-sufficient. But in the Indian context poverty, hunger, clean water, sanitation all these aspects are so critical with the lack of financial aid somehow. Today water and sanitation is the classic case, affordable clean energy would be the next one!’
India is the second most populated country in the world, handling a pandemic like this is more than challenging, but given the challenges Indian government has done a commendable job over the last 18 months. Particularly the Reserve Bank has been completely supportive be it infusing liquidity or providing the guarantee.
It may take some time to gain back that momentum we lost during COVID. But in the last two months particularly after the second wave, there’s a wave of excitement in the market which is good for the economy. The current government is quite supportive towards the MSMEs and Startups. They’ve taken some hard steps on the ground and we’ll see the quite remarkable results in coming two to three years, said Mr. Mehta.
He further adds that the government is very keen to involve the expertise of the private sector wherever it is possible and the way public-private partnerships have worked in critical sectors like Railways and infrastructure. Execution is the key and the thought process we have witnessed so far is quite clear towards the development. The entire digital approach the government has taken over the past 6-7 years, we’ve seen its fruit-bearing results and strategically they seem on the right direction.
Pahal envisions to serve 2 million customers in the next three years. After working in the field for 30 years, Mr Mehta says nothing’s more motivating than the satisfaction of our borrowers and stakeholders. Things have changed in past ten years, especially after 2014. One should continue to doing their best as there is always more to do and that keeps me going.
Today India is on the verge of major financial revolution, the next decade would be great for finance professionals. Mr. Mehta says the most important quality for anyone who wants to pursue this profession “skills” & “consistency”. Today there’s ease of doing business than we had 30 years ago. Initiatives like “Startup India” might develop the country differently and this is the right time get to be a part of it. The message is to participate in every opportunity we get and to be persistent with clear conscience.
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