Microfinance has grown to be one of the most demanded financial services. Like other counterparts in developed markets, the population of emerging markets demands a range of financial services, including savings, remittance and insurance. Established in 2007, Shikhar initiated its journey with the objective of delivering innovative microcredit, insurance and other ‘livelihood augmenting financial products and services’ to the ultra-poor urban population.
Microfinance was prevalent in rural areas but the need was felt to cater to the urban population with such services. Thus, the foundation of urban microfinance was laid by Shikhar, who pioneered urban microfinance in the country. The company has established sound standards and processes which is different from the industry trends. It introduced and facilitated the practice of monthly repayments as per the need of a large section of customers as against the clacical microfinance weekly repayments.
Since the company’s inception, they introduced client protection policies, which were later enforced by RBI’s Malegam Committee across the Microfinance Industry. Shikhar initiated the disbursement of loan to their customers using NEFT into the client’s bank accounts and stopped disbursing loans by cash. Shikhar is living true on its vision of empowering communities by financial services and livelihood opportunities by being a pioneer of innovative domestic social equality.
Satyavir Chakrapani, Chief Executive Officer & Managing Director of Shikhar, is a law graduate and undertook his post graduate studies from EDII, Ahmedabad. Mr. Chakrapani has to his credit, successful implementation of projects on microfinance, microinsurance, Panchayati Raj, tele-medicine and developing knowledge networks.
Satyavir has designed programmes on tele-medicine and satellite clinics, community-based health and HIV/AIDS care, sustainable community-based project implementation, community-based microfinance, microfinance institution, a network of faith-based organizations for knowledge sharing and collaboration for addressing human suffering.
Satyavir has developed advanced awareness material and mediums for information and knowledge sharing. He has also implemented various campaign based programmes and has been efficacious in raising funds for various small and large programmes.
Satyavir’s motivational insights:
A Training Manual cum Information booklet “Pragati Ka Dwar- Panchayati Raj”, Published by Population Foundation of India, 2004.
Wrote a paper on “Faith & MDGs: A Global Reconciliation” for ARM 2006 at Agra.
Presented paper on “New horizons of human development: Interfaith Collaboration in Achieving Millennium Development Goals” during International Conference on.” “New horizons of human development and social transformation: Towards a Multiverse of Dialogue and Learning”, in Chennai on February 09, 2006.
Distinctive Services with a Unique Serving Style
Shikhar provides microcredit products through the Joint Liability Group Model. Apart from the income generating loans, Shikhar, in collaboration with Samsung, offers low-cost mobile phones to its customers in easy affordable monthly installment method thereby promoting digitalization among the masses. It also provides water purification systems in collaboration with Hindustan Unilever, thus educating and ensuring a habit of clean drinking water.
Shikhar has introduced the underprivileged masses to cashless financial transactions through transfer of loans to their bank accounts. It was the first and only one in the industry to achieve 100% cashless disbursement successfully. This effort greatly helped the company during the demonization drive towards the latter part of 2016.
Shikhar continues to focus on active “client engagement” whereby clients are facilitated and assisted on issues related to livelihood and business. Certain aspects covered under this includes viz. assistance to clients for various kinds of insurance including their business assets, making them aware of basic health, hygiene and drinking habits.
Smartly Ruling the Financial Market
With a dream to pioneer urban microfinance, raising initial capital was the biggest challenge. However, a breakthrough was achieved by private equity investment.
Another challenge emerged when Shikhar decided to establish itself as an entity that was driven by client centric demand against the conventional microfinance model that was prevalent then. But this challenge was converted into a favorable situation through constant focus on client behavior and active engagement with them in order to understand their needs, preferences and also their ability to repay loans. This helped Shikhar to outline the products and processes that were commensurate with their needs and abilities.
Believe in Customer Satisfaction
Clients, who have been served by Shikhar, are entrepreneurs today who have not only established their own source of earning and created a respectable standard of living for themselves but also are in turn creating new jobs in their community.
Apart from the size into which it has grown, the JLG model in which it operates has made a deep impact in caste and religion based barriers.
Encouraging heterogeneity and learning among its clients, Shikhar has invented a fruitful approach in overcoming depressive and hierarchal social system. With JLG groups that include people from different religious and caste backgrounds, Shikhar has helped in slowly but steadily eliminating such elements from at least among its 42000 clients which has and is surely to leave a lasting impact on the society in times to come.
Goal: Next 1 to 3 years – Touch the 500 cr. portfolio mark and 100 cr. capital net worth with complete paper less operations in over 10 states.
3 to 5 years – to be listed in stock exchange with business reaching approximately 1000 cr. Mark and 200 cr. capital net worth. Gaining eligibility for obtaining small finance bank license.