In India, two-thirds of the country’s population is under the age of 35 and experiences a high rate of unemployment and underemployment. Many take work in the informal economy to make ends meet. Entrepreneurship is a pathway for such young Indians to find economic opportunities in their communities. One of the biggest hurdles they face is getting access to finance. While very few are fortunate enough to have some savings or get loans from friends and family, most of them end up relying on various informal sources as well.
Annapurna Finance, established in 2009, is a microfinance institution and a longtime partner of Accion that offers microloans, insurance, and other financial services, and their target segments are the financially excluded individuals, households, and micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs). Their financing support to grassroots entrepreneurs is helping to address the unemployment challenge.
Annapurna is also evolving to meet the needs of an increasingly tech-savvy market. In recent years, they have worked with Accion on their own digital transformation, which appeals to youth entrepreneurs. Annapurna’s Customer Engagement Platform (CEP) simplifies communication, allowing small business owners to receive updates about their loans effortlessly. The platform leverages existing channels like WhatsApp that are already familiar to their clients. With support from Accion and funding from the Swiss Capacity Building Facility, Annapurna is further enhancing its CEP to cater to the product, service, and information requests of its client base. Their goal is to encourage more clients to embrace digital channels, making financial services more convenient and accessible.
Here is an inspiring story of a young entrepreneur and client of Annapurna Finance on the outskirts of Bhubaneswar in Odisha, India, who realised his dream of owning a business and becoming financially independent.
Picture courtesy: Accion