SME Financing: A Variety of Options Available to Suit Your Needs

The 2017 Union Budget underlined the significant role that Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) play in the development of the country, in terms of industrial output, exports and generating employment. While SMEs contribute to the growth of the country, they face challenges in raising finances due to their size and their inability to provide adequate collateral.
Many SMEs have operational problems due to improper management and as a result, the lenders are wary about extending SME finance. To cover their risk, they charge higher rates of interest, insist on proper collateral, take extra efforts during due diligence, and even try to appoint their representative on the company board. Given the extra effort required when it comes to SME lending, traditional SME finance companies take a long time to disburse the loans.

Institutional route to SME finance

SME need loans to finance their working capital requirements. SME finance for working capital requirements traditionally starts with the establishment of cash credit, overdraft and working capital limits with the banks. SME finance is also required for purchasing assets and for expanding and scaling the business. For this purpose, term loans are secured from banks and SME finance companies for purchasing assets and for meeting other incidental expenses. Apart from these sources of finance, SMEs can also secure funds from the following traditional sources:

  • Export credit to finance the pre-shipment and post-shipment export-related activities.
  • Letters of Credit (LCs) and bank guarantees to facilitate trade and meet the performance and financial obligations.
  • Bill discounting where bills of exchange which are covered by LCs or bank guarantees are discounted by banks, NBFCs or SME finance companies.
  • Leasing where the banks, NBFCs or SME finance companies buy the asset on behalf of the SME and then lease it back to the SME.
  • Factoring and securitisation where illiquid assets are used to secure advances from banks, NBFCs or SME finance companies.
  • Venture capital investments from individual investors or companies.

Government impetus to SME lending

Recognising the issues faced by small businesses and their criticality to India’s development, the Government has initiated several measures to ease the credit availability for this segment.

  • The finance minister has set the lending target for SME finance at Rs 2.44 lakh crore for 2017. In other words the directive ensures that banks and financial institutions will disburse loans to SMEs collectively worth Rs 2.44 lakh crore through this year.
  • The Government’s Credit Guarantee Scheme (CGS) under the Ministry of Micro, Small & Medium Enterprises (MSME), which secures the loans given by banks to SMEs, now has an increased outlay of Rs 2 crore from the earlier Rs 1 crore.
  • The 2017 Union Budget infused Rs 10,000 crore of capital into state-owned lending institutions to promote SME lending.
  • SMEs can continue to avail of loans under the Pradhan Mantri Mudra Yojana, where SME finance is disbursed to small businesses as working capital loans or short-term loans. The amount ranges from Rs 50,000 to Rs 10 Lakh and no collateral is required as they are covered/secured by the CGS scheme.

Alternative SME finance channels

Rapid strides in technology are changing the banking and financial industry and several new channels of credit are emerging as viable alternatives for cash-strapped SMEs.
New age FinTech companies are using advanced technology to introduce new SME lending products that have quick and easy approval processes. Companies like Capital Float have made it easier to secure SME finance. Such new age SME finance companies have introduced online portals and mobile apps that can be used by SMEs to apply for and manage loans. They have simplified and shortened the loan approval process by using big data and analytics to evaluate loan applications.
New age SME finance companies like Capital Float have also introduced innovative financial products for customised SME lending. These new SME lending solutions include:

Collateral-free financing solutions: These are unsecured loans given by the SME finance companies to SMEs who cannot or do not want to provide any security. FinTech SME finance companies like Capital Float use technology to swiftly assess the credit-worthiness of the loan applicants and speed up disbursal so that a business owner can receive the loan amount in their account within 72 hours. Capital Float also has easy and flexible repayment terms which make the loan easier for SMEs to manage.

Merchant cash advances or credit card receivables: These unsecured loans or advances can be availed of by SMEs who use Point-of-Sale (PoS) terminals. The amount advanced is dependent on the monthly credit card sales generated on the point-of-sale machine.

Online seller finance: This is a working capital loan given to e-commerce vendors for managing their day-to-day operations and leveraging business opportunities.

Supply chain finance: In this kind of financing, the SME finance company liquidates the borrower’s invoices by paying up to 80% of the invoice value to the borrower.

Capital Float is one of the leading SME finance companies that uses FinTech to create SME-friendly credit options. It provides short term unsecured loans to SMEs, and a basket of customised financial products that cater to the needs of small entrepreneurs. These include online seller finance, supply chain finance, merchant cash advance, and Pay Later, which is a revolving credit facility.

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Cashflow Management Tutorial for School Owners

Cashflow is the lifeblood of any organisation, including schools. Unlike most small and medium enterprises that have unstable revenue because of variations in customer purchases and seasonal cycles, schools are usually assured of a running income from the fees paid by the students each quarter. However, cashflow management is as serious a task for educational institutions as it is for any other business.

With the fee they receive, schools have to pay their teaching and administrative staff, maintain the campus, periodically purchase lab equipment, sports supplies, furniture and other items, and keep some reserves for unforeseen expenses. When money falls short of requirements, they may have to apply for loans from a school finance company. In addition to banks, FinTech organisations have stepped forward as significant providers of school finance in India.

Whether a school manages its operations with its earnings or takes the support of school finance, it is essential to handle the fund prudently. The following tips for cashflow management in schools can help the owners avoid severe financial constraints:

Anticipate future requirements: Will some students be leaving the school to change their board (CBSE, State Board, ISC, IGCSE) from the next academic year? Will you be hiring any new staff members? Does the school need to replace any furniture or teaching equipment? It is good to have a basic idea of such needs as they have an impact on your earnings and expenses. If you feel that the outflow of cash could be more than the inflow and reserve funds, it may be necessary to apply for school finance.

Make arrangements with vendors: If you have developed long-term relationships with the vendors who regularly supply lab materials, sports gear, canteen groceries and other provisions to your school, you can make occasional arrangements on payment terms. As an example, if your regular pay cycle from the receipt of invoice is 30 days, it can be extended to 45 days in a period when you are spending funds on additional works in the school.

Work to maximise cash inflows: With constant improvements in your education services, you can attract new students, which will have a positive impact on your earnings. Schools that have classes till Standard VIII but have a reasonably high strength of students can work with an education board to upgrade to Standard X or XII. To facilitate the construction of a new building and for additional campus amenities, you can apply for school finance by sending a quick digital application to a FinTech company. The revenue generated from fees paid by students in new upper classes will help you to pay off the borrowed amount and interest in small EMIs.

Stay connected to lenders: If despite your best efforts on cashflow management, money falls short of requirements, remember that funding for schools in India is available on easy terms from a FinTech school finance company. You can get a collateral-free loan, and you need to submit only the soft copies of eligibility proving documents when you choose a FinTech company as your lender.

Apply for Unsecured school loan

Capital Float is a friendly FinTech organisation providing school finance to recognised educational institutions that have functional classes till Grade VIII or above and collect a yearly fee of minimum Rs 75 lakh.

Oct 24, 2018

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Advent of the Business Technologist

The tech revolution has caused several traditional roles to evolve and assume new dimensions and responsibilities in recent years. One such role is that of the Business Analyst (BA). Larger multinational companies were the original movers behind the creation of this unique role. All these organisations inevitably had one thing in common – meticulously planned and detailed organisation structures. In such an environment, BAs were tasked with continuously improving systems and processes while driving IT adoption across the board to govern the same.

The recent waves of start-ups resulted in the organic transformation of this traditionally vertical-based specialist into that of cross-functional professional with the expectation of being able to deliver on all fronts, cutting across business verticals. The prominence and necessity of such a role to drive strategic, tactical and operational excellence in the start-up environment, is now seen as more of a necessity than a luxury. These individuals, with evolved professional capabilities, are akin to the ‘Smart Creative’ that Google has postulated. They are hands on, driven by data analytics and are known to bring a fresh perspective to the table, consequently making them one of the most sought after employees in the market.

The advent of the Business Technologist has been triggered by the rise of sophisticated challenges that require a nimble response mechanism from a technological perspective. Businesses are constantly attempting to overcome new challenges as they arise. Technology, which is advancing at an exponential rate, becomes the perfect vehicle to address these challenges. Establishing a robust response mechanism to resolve them prepares the organisation to swiftly move on to the next challenge. Business technologists often become the architects and propagators of this change within organisations.

The stark contrast between the BA and the BT is highlighted in the overall responsibilities assumed by them. For instance, BAs are responsible for overseeing a process and ensuring that they optimise it to a state of best practice. BTs on the other hand are in a position to innovate and redesign the underlying process itself. This redesign can be caused by a variety of reasons, ranging from lack of IT adoption, the existence of better delivery models, to uneconomic business practices. It can even be a consequence of the process not being in line with the overall strategy of the organisation. Such is the liberty that is given to the BT.

The emergence of this professional leads us to the conclusion that success of technology does not depend merely on its adoption – it is more dependent on understanding the implications of its deployment in the most complex business environments. All this while ensuring that maximum value is being derived from these potentially capital intensive technology ‘solutions’. One may argue that this is the responsibility of the CIO or her team – someone whose role in the organisation is to work primarily on strategy or the execution of technology. However, given the dynamic nature of roles and responsibilities in the modern-day work environment, organisations must have BTs spread across business functions, as well as lines of business. The failure to do so is likely to result in sub-optimal efficiencies.

Much like the ‘rise’ of the ‘Business Analyst’, which was a direct consequence of the tech revolution, the age of the start-up has led to the advent of the Business Technologist. Sure, it’s not how you can expect anyone to introduce themselves in a corporate context. As a matter of fact, until a few years ago, the BT didn’t even exist. Today we can go ahead and safely say that such individuals must be well versed in a variety of disciplines – ranging from operations, business strategy, unit economics and talent development – to core technical areas such as IT, engineering architecture and others.

This distinctive role can also be compared to that of an in-house management consultant. The key difference between the two professionals is that the business technologists are not afraid to roll-up their sleeves and get their hands dirty. They will not stop at a prescriptive solution, but will get knee deep in the problem while attempting to solve it. The quicker the organisations embrace this evolved being, the faster these organisations can become flagbearers of the new phase of the technological revolution.

Arjun Nair

Arjun has a deep understanding of the Indian SME universe as a consequence of having dealt with this juggernaut for the last 5 years. Starting off his career at Tally, where he gained insight into this industry in a variety of areas including IT adoption, overall size of universe, etc. He now spends his days at Capital Float leveraging this information to increase customer acquisition. True to the article, he also spends his time ensuring cross functional synergy across functions in the organisation. From enabling the SME universe with IT at Tally he now wishes to empower them through financial inclusion.

Arjun is a Business Technologist at Capital Float

Oct 24, 2018

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Implications of GST on Manufacturing

GST — the unified tax system that is set to revolutionize indirect taxation in India— is finally here. Some of its key proposed advantages are streamlining of tax payments, reduction in tax frauds, and ease of doing business. Here is a look at how these will play out in the manufacturing domain.

Make In India & Manufacturing

The manufacturing sector in India contributes a mere 16% to the overall GDP. However, the potential to make this a high-growth and high-GDP sector is huge. The “Make in India” campaign by Prime Minister Narendra Modi makes this possibility real, by giving impetus to the sector. Furthermore, PwC estimates that India will become the fifth largest manufacturing country in the world by the end of 2020. It would be interesting to know how the Goods and Services Tax or GST impacts this roadmap.

Impact of GST on Manufacturing

GST is one of the key policy changes that will have a direct impact on manufacturing establishments. So far, the existing complex tax structure has been a dampener, resulting in the slow growth of the sector. GST is expected to liberate the sector by unifying tax regimes across states.

Overall, GST is expected to have a positive impact and boost manufacturing.  Here is why:

  • Removal of multiple valuations will create simplification: The old tax regime subjects manufactured goods to excise duty, which is calculated differently in different states. While some states calculate excise duty based on transaction value, others calculate it based on quantity. Most manufactured goods’ excise duty is currently considered on MRP valuation. This creates great confusion in valuation methods. GST will usher in an era of transaction-based valuation, making calculation of tax much simpler for the manufacturer.
  • Entry tax subsummation will reduce cost of production: The subsuming of the entry tax for inter-state transfers is a key reason for reducing cost of goods and services. For example, a supplier of cement from Maharashtra to Karnataka was earlier required to pay entry tax when the supply crossed the interstate border. For Karnataka, the entry tax rate was 5% of the value of the goods. The supplier would pass on this additional cost to the customer, resulting in increase in selling price. With entry tax being subsumed, the supplier need not pay the entry tax rate amount and consequently, not charge the customer this amount either.
  • Improved cash flows: Under the new tax laws, manufacturers can claim input tax credit on input goods, which seems to be a positive sign for cash flow. SMEs are keenly observing the time difference between input tax credit and the credit being available.
  • Single registration process will provide ease of registration: The old regime required manufacturers to register each manufacturing facility separately, even those in the same state. GST will simplify the plant registration process by allowing single registration for all manufacturing entities within the same state. Previously, if a brick manufacturer had factories in Bangalore, Hubli and Dharwad, each unit had to be registered separately. Under GST, all of these factories would be jointly registered under the state of Karnataka. Of course, different state-entities will require separate registrations under GST too.
  • Removal of cascading will lead to lower cost-to-consumer: The old tax regime does not allow manufacturers to claim tax credit on inter-state transaction taxes such as octroi, central sales tax, entry tax etc. This results in cascading of taxes—an extra cost to the manufacturing company. Manufacturers end up passing on these extra costs to the consumer. The unified GST regime will eliminate multiple taxes and thus lower cost of production; this, in turn, will mean lower pricing for the consumer. For example, prior to 1 July 2017, SMEs in manufacturing used to pay Excise Duty, Central State Tax and sometimes VAT too at 12.5%, 2% and 5.5% respectively. With GST in effect, they are required to pay 18% in taxes.
  • Restructuring of supply chain: To align with the GST law, businesses will be required to realign their supply chains. However, this is a blessing in disguise. Till date, most supply chain structuring has been designed around how to manage tax regimes. With a single tax regime, this will change, and supply chain structures will focus on driving business efficiencies. An example is that of warehousing. The old regime demands that warehouse management be based on arbitrage between varying VAT rates across states. This is expected to change to bring in economic efficiencies and more customer-centricity going ahead.

Manufacturers, however, are concerned about the following aspects:

  • Increase in immediate working capital requirements: Branch transfers and depo transfers will be treated as taxable under GST; IGST will be applicable on these transfers. This increases the requirement for immediate working capital. Another reason for increased working capital requirements is that the receipt of advance is taxable as per GST rules. Also, stock transfers are treated as “supply” and hence are taxable under the GST regime.
  • More stringent and elaborate transaction management: GST aims to achieve better tax compliance. To make this possible, manufacturers must work towards streamlining existing transactions; this means additional resources and costs. For example, under GST, credit in respect to an invoice can be taken only up to one year of the invoice date. Also, the provision of reverse charge means that the liability to pay tax falls on the recipient of goods/services instead of the supplier. The payment of reverse charge is dependent on the time of supply (30 days from the date of issue of invoice by the supplier in case of goods and 60 days for services).These changes will require manufacturers to carefully assess and track their supply processes, especially the timelines. This may mean hiring a better skilled compliance workforce, and better systems and software. More legal considerations will also mean more costs.
  • Lack of clarity on local exemptions: Despite GST being proposed as a unifying platform for indirect tax, all the components for manufacturing are not yet clear. One such area is localized area-based exemptions. The old structure provides certain exemptions for certain goods in specific states (for example the North East or hilly states). Under GST, most of these exemptions are likely to be removed, resulting in a negative cost-impact on these manufacturers. Such companies must reassess their financial position in view of such likely changes.

Overall, one can say that the impact of GST on the manufacturing sector is positive. It provides a unique opportunity to streamline business operations to become more compliance and profitability-oriented, rather than tax-oriented. It puts power in the hands of business leaders to bring about positive change and steer their enterprises on a growth path, powered by GST-compliance.

Read more of our content on GST by clicking here.

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Oct 24, 2018