5 Common SME Financing Mistakes To Avoid

The SME (small and medium enterprises) sector is an important contributor to India’s economic growth. Even though their product or service may add great value for certain people, many SMEs face challenges. This is mostly because of the lack of research and planning by the business owners about the potential opportunities and risks of the particular niche in which these units operate. Many-a-times such businesses fail to make accurate assessments of their working capital requirements and, even when they do, cannot find ways to finance them.

Some common financing mistakes made by SMEs relate to whether or not to borrow, estimating the correct amount of SME business loan required, checking the full financing cost, the time wasted on getting a loan approved and the opportunity costs.

SME Financing Options and Some Common Mistakes

The Government and the private sector have taken several initiatives to increase availability of small business loans to SMEs in India. Despite the improved availability of SME finance, many units are still struggle with easy access to finance. This is mainly due to the lack of awareness of new-age, innovative financing solutions that are offered by FinTech lenders like Capital Float.

Here are the five most common financing mistakes made by SMEs:

1. Lack of Planning: One of the gravest shortcomings of smaller businesses is the inability to plan for the longer term. Business owners tend to get so involved with daily operations, troubleshooting and trying to complete orders that they fail to step back and look at the bigger picture. In the absence of a business plan, many SMEs do not foresee the amount of cash they would require to grow and expand. They suddenly find themselves in a severe cash crunch, unable to meet their working capital needs.

A sound business plan is essential for approaching a bank for a loan. Moreover, the ability to project a cash crunch or the funds needed to grow would allow SMEs to approach banks in time, since traditional lending institutions may take months before sanctioning the loan. This is where FinTech lenders have eased the situation. By deploying cutting-edge technology, Capital Float can ensure loan approval within hours. The use of powerful algorisms helps determine the prospects of a business, easing the process of loan approval. In fact, such lenders do not require a formal business plan for sanctioning SME finance.

2.Wrong Estimation of Funds Required: Most business owners feel anxious about overestimating their loan requirement and having to pay interest on excess funds. This makes them lean towards underestimating their costs. Thus, even when a loan is disbursed, these businesses are left wanting for more. Of course, the overestimation of the loan requirement hits the bottom-line.

What such businesses need is Capital Float’s Pay Later Finance product, which offers a Predetermined credit amount. While a credit amount is determined, based on the prospects of the business, the SME has the flexibility to transfer only as much funds, as it currently needs. Repayments can be made as the business generates money, and the repayment restores the credit amount, making funds available for future requirements.

3.Hidden Charges: Several lenders burden SMEs with hidden fees. These charges may be exorbitant and the business owner may not even know when they are levied. At Capital Float, perfect transparency is maintained, with no hidden charges. In fact, unlike most traditional banking institutions that impose a fee for the early repayment of a loan, there are no prepayment charges at Capital Float.

4.Choosing the Wrong SME Finance Product: Most SMEs turn toward unorganized moneylenders or traditional banking institutions to borrow money. These loans are not tailored to the specific needs of the SMEs. New-age lenders like Capital Float offer various SME business loans that have been designed keeping in mind the needs, business model and ability to repay of different businesses.

5.Trying to Arrange Collateral: SMEs sometimes put too much at stake to get a loan or do not borrow money in the absence of collateral. Capital Float offers small business loans in India without the requirement for collateral. One can also opt for a Merchant Cash Advance, which converts accounts receivables of a business to quick and usable funds.

Apart from these common mistakes made by small businesses, the timing of the loan approval and receipt of funds plays a critical role in the success of SMEs. Any delay in arranging the necessary funds can prove catastrophic for a business. This is mainly because SMEs often do not have sufficient negotiating power with their suppliers. They need to make payments for raw materials long before they can raise an invoice to their customers.

The rapid evolution of technology to address SME finance needs have revolutionized the lending space. The objective of FinTech lenders is to eliminate the liquidity issues faced by the SME sector by ensuring the quick approval and disbursal of the loan amount, while also making it easier for these smaller businesses to repay the loan. However, to make use of these advantages, SMEs need to be made aware of such options.

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Capital Float looks to expand to over 100 cities – Livemint

Capital Float plans expansion in over 100 cities as it bids to offer loans for small brick-and-mortar store owners for a bigger share of the growing financial lending market

Capital Float, which is currently focused on offering loans to small and medium merchants in Tier 1 and metro cities, is now looking to concentrate more on tier 2 and tier 3 cities.

Mumbai: SME lending platform Capital Float, run by Zen Lefin Pvt. Ltd, is looking to expand its reach to over 100 cities and venture into newer categories like loan for small brick-and-mortar store owners, as it eyes a bigger share of the growing financial lending market in the country.

“We are expecting a 10 times growth by the end of March 2017, adding 15,000-20,000 customers (borrowers) cumulatively across all the loan products segment,” said co-founder and managing director Sashank Rishyasringa.

The company has offered loans to 3,000 borrowers until now.

Founded in 2013 by Rishyasringa and Gaurav Hinduja, Capital Float has disbursed loans amounting to over Rs.400 crore.

A technology-led non-banking financial company (NBFC) underwrites unsecured loans online to start-ups, business-to-business (B2B) providers, manufacturers and e-commerce merchants through its own books.

It currently gets 33% of the business from online vendors.

With the aim of extending its focus to small mom-and-pop or kirana shops along with micro small and medium enterprises (SMEs), the company has already made a mobile application that approves loans in less than eight minutes.

Loans to kirana shops could be in the range of Rs.50,000-100,000.

India currently has minimal lending options for small businesses. These businesses are largely ineligible to receive any financing from banks or NBFCs.

Traditional banks ask for collateral, financial statements and bank statements and do not offer small ticket size loans.

Capital Float is trying to solve the problem by lending money to small businesses that might not have collateral, significant revenues or years of experience.

The company offers an alternative for these small traditional business houses that have largely banked on chit funds and local money lenders to borrow money from.

Identifying a need to extend credit to such under-served, Rata Tata, Vijay Kelkar (former finance secretary and chairman of the National Institute of Public Finance and Policy) and Nandan Nilekani (co-founder of Infosys Ltd and the architect of Aadhaar) will soon start a microfinance institution named Avanti Finance, Mint reported on Monday.

Capital Float, which is currently focused on offering loans to small and medium merchants in Tier 1 and metro cities, is now looking to concentrate more on tier 2 and tier 3 cities. “I expect a significant contribution of these cities (tier 2 and tier 3) to the company’s growth, which could be around 33% by next year,” Rishyasringa added.

The loan products currently include working capital finance to online sellers for 90-180 days, long-term finance to merchants for six months to three years, bill discounting and taxi financing (loans for cab drivers), among others.

Broadly, the company has partnered with e-commerce websites, payment gateways, cab services, amounting to 50 partnerships, including with Snapdeal, Shopclues, Paytm and Uber to offer loans to a large pool of small businesses and merchants who work with these partners.

The company is also eyeing profitability in the next 12 months on the back of a robust demand for loans by SMEs.

To enable faster disbursal of loans, the company launched its mobile application two to three months ago, which is privately available to businesses through partners.

While loan applications were initially accessible only through the website, Capital Float is now seeing that mobile application and mobile browsing has grown to contribute 50% of loan applications, said Rishyasringa.

The mobile application is built on four technology pillars of India Stack—Aadhaar-based authentication, an electronic process of know-your-customer (e-KYC), electronic signature (e-Sign) and unified payment interface (UPI).

India Stack is a set of publicly available application programming interface (API)—that enable companies to build applications and businesses based on these four pillars.

The fin-tech company receives a loan enquiry every three minutes, said Rishyasringa. An inquiry implies a prospective borrower initiating a loan application process.

While the company remains stringent in extending loans, by approving 20% of the applications, total loan disbursal amounts to an average of Rs.70 crore per month.

Additionally, the average loan amount extended to a merchant is Rs.10 lakh at an interest rate of 16-19%, for a tenure of between 60 days to 2-3 years. The company maintains and targets to continue to maintain a non-performing asset (NPA) proportion of less than 1% of its total loan amount.

NPA is the proportion of the amount of bad loans to the total amount of loan disbursed.

Backed by George Soros’s Aspada Investment Co., SAIF Partners and Sequoia Capital, the company has raised $42 million, including $25 million in series B round of funding in May.

Other players in this segment that Capital Float competes with are Capital First Ltd, NeoGrowth Credit Pvt. Ltd and SMEcorner.in (Amadeus Advisors Pvt. Ltd). In July, NeoGrowth raised $35 million from IIFL Asset Management, Accion Frontier Inclusion Fund managed by (Quona Capital) and Aspada Investments, along with other investors, reported PTI.

The original article is written by Arushi Chopra. Click here to read the original article.

Oct 24, 2018

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3 Things To Do When Applying For Business Loans

The growth of the SME (small and medium enterprises) segment, which contributed nearly 40% of India’s exports, has been restricted by the lack of access to timely finance. Only 4% of 57.7 million small business units in the country have access to formalized finance, leaving many to rely on informal lenders, who charge exorbitant interest rates. Requirements like collateral and detailed documentation as well as the long processing and disbursement time of loans deter SMEs from approaching traditional financial institutions. Thus continues the huge gap between the need for funds by SMEs and the amount of funds actually approved as loans.

This severe shortfall needed to be addressed, especially given the importance of SMEs to India’s economy. This is where FinTech companies like Capital Float have risen to the occasion, offering new business loans that are aligned to address specific needs of the SME sector. While cutting-edge technology is being deployed to make innovative financial products available to smaller businesses, SMEs must be aware of the available finance options to take make an informed decision.

SMEs make some common mistakes when applying for secured and unsecured loans. As a result of these mistakes, their loan applications may get rejected. Here are some tips for small businesses to avoid rejection of their business loan applications.

Be organized

Banks and other lending institutions would require certain documents to verify the claims made by a business. The decision to sanction a loan is taken by the lender after evaluating the prospects of a business, its ability to repay the loan amount and its previous credit record. This is done by checking various documents certifying the presence and existence of a business, its financial statements, taxes paid by it and other documents that indicate the financial standing of the business and the business owner(s). To ensure speedy approval of its loan application, a business must organize its documents and submit these in an orderly manner to the lending firm.

Any kind of delay in submitting the desired documents may be viewed negatively by the lender and could even derail the whole process. So, every business seeking a short term loan needs to be organized about its documentation. All the papers should be ready for submission when applying online for a loan. Your swiftness in providing the necessary information along with requisite documents can speed up the approval process.

Be Mindful of Your Credit Profile

The credit profile of the business owner or owners plays a key role in the ability of the SME to secure a business loan. Ensuring a good credit profile is not difficult. This is possible by ensuring that all your credit card and bill payments are made on time. The timely repayment of all due amounts including the ones relating to any existing loans helps improve the credit score.

Often business owners ignore their credit score thinking that it would not impact their ability to secure a loan for their business. They fail to understand the significant negative impact this can have on their business. It is important for business owners to regularly check their credit scores and take the necessary steps to improve them. Such efforts can ease the process of securing finance for the business in the future. In some cases, the credit scores do not even reflect the true situation. Regular monitoring can help business owners rectify the errors in the scores and boost their chances of getting loans on time.

Have A Firm Business Plan

Seeking loans without any kind of business plan may result in the loan application being rejected. A business plan is a reflection of the goals, the purpose of a business and ways to achieve them. It shows how a business intends to operate and how much funds are needed and at what time. A clear business plan not only helps a small business to ease the process of loan application, but also to determine the specific amount of funds required. This in turn enables the business to apply for a business loan well in advance besides providing the lender clarity into the purpose for which the loan is sought.

Thus, a well laid out business plan helps a business provide answers to questions like:

  • How much loan is required and for what purpose?
  • How quickly are the funds required and for what duration?
  • What is the current financial standing of the business and when will the business be able to repay the borrowed amount?
  • Does the business need secured or unsecured loans?

With FinTech lenders like Capital Float offering an array of innovative products, small businesses also need clarity to enable them to choose the loan that is most appropriate for them. A business plan would also help with this. In the absence of a business plan, the screening process may take longer and the chances of rejection of the loan application are also higher.

A business seeking a loan should not borrow from the first lender it comes across. Instead, it’s advisable to do thorough research and compare the loan terms offered.

Capital Float helps small businesses seeking loans to identify the right type of loan for their working capital needs, besides offering multiple repayment options. The use of advanced algorithms helps to underwrite businesses uniquely, check the repayment ability in absence of credit scores and develop customized lending solutions to suit the individual requirements of potential borrowers.

Oct 24, 2018

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Implications of GST for Services

The new Goods and Services Tax (GST) is a unified tax structure that was implemented by the Government of India on 1 July 2017. The new regime has ushered a significant change in taxation levels and rules associated with it. On an average, we see the tax slab increasing from 15% to 18% for most of the services. While this may translate to higher cost of services to the end consumer, GST also presents a whole lot of opportunities, pushing ease of business.

Services Sector in India: An Overview

India is a strong services-led economy with the sector generating a significant chunk of employment opportunities and contributing to the GDP. It contributed around 66.1% of India’s Gross Value Added (GVA) growth in 2015-16, is the biggest magnet for Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), and an important net foreign exchange earner. Some of the core areas of service are IT and ITES, banking and financial services, outsourcing, research and development, transportation, telecommunications, real estate and professional services.

Some of the positive impacts of GST on service providers are:

Clear distinction between goods and services: The old regime does not clearly distinguish between goods and services, leading to many instances of double taxation. For example, software is often treated as a good and as a service. The new regime clearly distinguishes goods from services, and also defines principal supply, composite supply, and mixed supply separately. For example, when an individual books a Rajdhani train ticket which includes meals, it involves a composite supply wherein the ticket and the meals cannot be sold separately. Since the transportation of the passenger is the principal supply, the rate of tax will only be charged on the ticket. Alternatively, for items that can be sold separately, but are sold together, like a hamper of snacks and aerated drinks, the rate of tax applicable on the higher product will be levied on the composite supply. There are also separate definitions for supply of software, works contracts, and leasing transactions to bring in more clarity and transparency on their taxation rules.

Streamlining of taxation for intra-state service providers: Due to the state level taxes being subsumed, it will become easier for service providers that operate within the state to know their tax obligations better. Such companies can move away from multiple tax calculations. For example, a CD with software incurs Excise, Service Tax, and VAT under the old regime; this is simplified to one unified rate under GST, making tax calculations and administration easier for intra-state service providers.

Input credit facility: VAT payment under the old regime was not eligible for setting off against output liabilities. The input credit facility is now made available to service providers as well, wherein tax paid on any inputs can be claimed and adjusted against tax paid on output. This will result in direct cost savings for service providers and may even offset the expected rise in end pricing. For example, an AC fitter who paid tax on the raw material for AC fittings (pipe, tape, solder etc.) will be able to claim that tax, and end up spending less on the cost of fitting the AC. This cost advantage can spill over to the customer as well.

Regularised return filing: The old service tax system required two half-yearly returns for services businesses. Under GST, this has been replaced by a number of returns provisions, depending on the type of taxpayer and the type of business:

Return Type of tax payer Timeline of filing return
GSTR 1 For outward supplies of sale (for registered taxable person) By 10th of the next month
GSTR 2 For inward supplies received by a taxpayer (for registered taxable person) By 15th of the next month
GSTR 3 Monthly return for registered taxable person (except for Compounding Taxpayer) By 20th of the next month
GSTR 4 Quarterly return for Compounding Taxpayer/Composition Supplier By 18th of the next month
GSTR 5 Periodic return by Non-Resident Foreign Taxpayer By 20th of the next month
GSTR 6 Return for Input Service Distributor (ISD) By 13th of the month succeeding the quarter
GSTR 7 Return for Tax Deducted at Source (TDS) By 10th of the next month
GSTR 8 Annual Return for e-commerce operator By 10th of the next month

While a shorter timeline for filing returns might seem overwhelming, regularisation in return filing will result in better streamlining of taxes. Since all these returns are required to be submitted online through a common portal provided by GSTN, the process is simplified and will help the government weed out regular defaulters. This in turn will result in a major boost in the contribution of the Service sector to the GDP.

Service providers, however, are concerned about the following aspects:

  • State-wise registration will be required: In the old regime, a service provider could operate with a single place of registration, since services were taxed only by the Central government. For example, if an IT services provider was present across states, they could carry out tax and delivery transactions from the main location. However, now a service provider that is offering services across states must register each place of business separately in each state. This is because the new GST regime entails taxation of services at “location of service recipient”, which will differ for different states. This means service providers will need to register afresh in new states and then carry out tax transactions separately in each state. For example, an IT company like TCS that has a widespread presence across states will need to decentralise service delivery.
  • Decentralised reporting will add to costs: Under GST, the “location of service recipient” is the key criterion for how a service will be taxed. Tax considerations will be related to the place the service is being delivered, and even a pan-India service provider with several “locations of service” will need to maintain state-wise records of input credit, audits, service consumption, etc. For example, earlier a service provider like TCS would enter into a single contract with the client, based on its main location, and then would discharge service tax based on the single-service tax registration model. GST will decentralise service delivery models, ensuring various TCS units adopt their own tax reporting and tax management. While this need for decentralised tax tracking and processing is an immediate cost to service providers, it presents a very real opportunity to streamline reporting and compliance measures for the future.

GST offers clear benefits to the services sector, and while some of these measures entail additional cost and effort in the short term, businesses can look forward to simpler operations with the new taxation laws.

All in all, services industries must gear up for better ways to manage business. Now is the time for them to equip themselves with the right people, processes and technologies, and emerge as service providers of the future.

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Oct 24, 2018