Nandan Nilekani has again set his eyes on a microfinance venture after an experiment that failed a decade ago in Bangalore by his family members. This time he was able to rope in Ratan Tata, chairman emeritus of the Tata group, Nandan Nilekani, former chairman of the Unique Identification Authority of India, and former finance secretary Vijay Kelkar.
Since technology is the main stake in bringing costs of lending down in recent years, a tech-enabled strategy of Nandan Nilekani is at forefront this time and the new venture to be known as Avanti Finance will provide small-ticket loans to under-served and un-served segments in India.
To go into operations by the end of this year, Avanti Finance is banking upon the very low delinquency rates in the segment compared with any other customer segment, though the interest rates are far higher in the market.
However, Tata and Nilekani are bringing their investments from their philanthropic capital, and envisage re-investing gains in philanthropic causes. Avanti will apply for registration to the Reserve Bank of India under the NBFC-MFI segment soon, said a statement.
Ratan Tata said, “Avanti will be a platform to impact the poor through credit at individual and community levels to create a lasting improvement in their livelihoods and standard of living, ushering prosperity.”
Nilekani said, “My participation in Avanti is more driven by social motivation rather than anything else — with a view to serve the under-served and un-served. Technology is an important differentiator and allows us to make a difference in many ways than one.”