India’s economy is growing at a rapid rate, but there are still plenty of lowincome states where the economy is struggling.
One of these states is Rajasthan, where farmer Lalu Ram lives. For a man in Lalu’s circumstances, it’s almost impossible to get a loan from a ‘traditional’ bank. Nonetheless, Lalu was able to use a loan from Au Financiers to purchase a tractor for $8,000.
With the new tractor, Lalu has been able to produce three times more wheat than before and with the increased income this provided, can now build a bigger house and send his children to good schools. His daughter, Sunita, hopes to open her own school one day.
In 2013, we invested $13 million in Au Financiers, a non-bank finance company based in Jaipur.
They lend to the low-income customers such as farmers and small-scale entrepreneurs.
“ In India, there is quite a robust banking sector but the banks are primarily in the large cities. You have a whole segment mostly living in rural areas that are not able to access that traditional banking sector. That’s where finance companies like Au Financiers are able to
step in. It was really an ideal partner for us and central to our strategy for India.”
Geoffrey Manley, Investment Director, Debt and Financial Institutions at CDC Group
Sanjar Agarwal founded Au Financiers in 1996 and has since seen enormous growth, particularly in the last five years.
Originally starting out with one branch in Jaipur, today there are around 200 branches across the country. Annual turnover has multiplied tenfold, from $200,000 in the 1990s to $20 million today. It provides 3,000 jobs and helps 250,000 customers develop their business and increase income.
Au Financiers didn’t get where it is without its own struggle, however.
“ The foremost challenge was that initial capital was not available. It came very late, after 12 years of running Au Financiers. The next challenge is how we can manage our human resources, because this is a very people-focused industry, and you need to have good people around you to understand the customer.”
Sanjay Agarwal, CEO at Au Financiers
Au Financiers is an excellent example of a successful business having a positive impact on the local economic development. The more it expands, the more investment opportunities there are for farmers like Lalu Ram, who can save to give their children the education they deserve. Our investment will contribute to a further 2,000 jobs and an additional 22,000 customers.