Understanding Working Capital

Every small and medium sized enterprise requires a certain amount of working capital to ensure smooth business operations. Working capital is nothing but the equity or funds available to owners to meet their short-term financial commitments and expenditures. Calculated by subtracting the value of current liabilities from the current assets of a business, the available capital stands testimony to the financial health and efficiency of an enterprise, particularly in the short-term perspective.

There are various types of working capital such as fixed working capital, temporary working capital, gross and net working capital, etc. to name a few. Since it is the fundamental building block for any enterprise, working capital is a basic requirement that can never be compromised upon. This is why Working Capital Loans are regular finance products offered by any banking entity, and is the most demanded of loans by small, medium and large enterprises.

Benefits of Working Capital Loans

Working capital loans are short term financing options that are used to cover accounts payables, wages and investments on short term assets. SMEs whose business are reliant on seasonality or manufacturers who depend on traders can opt for these loans until their business picks up or they receive payments. Since working capital loans can be used as the SME deems fit and can be availed for shorter terms, they are extremely beneficial to resolve any immediate financial crunch. Moreover, since these loans are disbursed quickly with fewer documentation requirements, owners can be relatively stress-free regarding daily/monthly expenses of wages, purchases, infrastructure bills, etc. till they can keep their businesses afloat.

Types of Working Capital Loans

Though all businesses are eligible to get working capital loans, finance providers will require business owners to meet certain prerequisites or conditions, depending on the scale of their operations. Traditionally, a security deposit or guarantee is required of them, and the working capital loan offered by lending institutions will significantly depend on the enterprise’s credit repayment history, among other things. However, several NBFCs now provide unsecured loans after an analysis of the business’ books. New-age lenders are now comfortable with extending collateral-free working capital loans to SMEs and even micro businesses.

Some of the most common working capital loans available for businesses are:

1. Short Term Loans
These loans are disbursed at a fixed rate of interest for a fixed payment period, which is usually up to 12 months.

2. Bank Overdraft and Loan Facility
The availability and terms of this type of loan are wholly dependent on an enterprise’s relationship with the lender. For this type of loans, the rates of interest are usually one or two percent above the prime interest rate levied by the lender.

3. Account Receivable Loans
Being the most popular of working capital loans, account receivable loans are most sought out by SMEs. This type of finance is the best choice for businesses requiring equity to meet expenditures such as fulfilling a sales contract, investing in an asset, etc.

Features of a Working Capital Loan

There are several banks and NBFCs in India licensed to offer working capital loans to businesses.  Smart SMEs would thoroughly research parameters like loan tenures, rates of interest, repayment terms, security requirements, etc. before opting for a lender, as this choice will have a lasting impact on the way you conduct business and on larger credit needs in the future.

Loan Eligibility – The number of years the business has been in operation, your CIBIL score and annual business turnover are some factors that will affect the loan eligibility, amount, tenure and rate of interest charged on your working capital loan.

Availing the Loan
– Below are some points that an SME should know before entering into discussions with an NBFC for working capital loans.

1. Most working capital loans are offered for a 12-month tenure.
2. Depending on the loan amount, the scale of business and the kind of lender, an interest rate of 12-16% per annum will be charged on the loan amount.
3. Traditionally, lenders would require collateral from SMEs in return for providing a loan. Even today, some lenders need a guarantee to know that the business they are investing capital into is up and running and if the loan amount will be returned.
4. However, several NBFCs now offer collateral-free loans to help SMEs manage their short-term expenditures without compromising on business goals. But the terms and conditions of the NBFC will dictate the type of loan an SME can avail.
5. Remember, bankers and lenders use the working capital ratio as a quick way to determine a company’s financial health.

Documents & Other Prerequisites – An SME needs to furnish certain documents to confirm the intent of repayment or as a measure of security as per the NBFC’s bylaws. Another prerequisite that business houses may require is to be registered under The Company Act 2013 of India as either of the following:

1. sole proprietorship
2. partnership
3. private limited firm
4. public limited firm

KYC documents, ITR financial statements, VAT returns, etc. are some documents that you will be required to show or upload while applying for a loan.

Choosing a Lender – Since the future of a business, its longevity and its ability to operate efficiently could rest on the working capital loan and the relationship with the lender, it is advisable to choose a reputable lender. Look for lenders who offer simple online documentation, customized business loans and quick disbursal before proceeding with one. It is always safe to choose a well-known lender with a modern outlook and flexible conditions to ensure a seamless experience.

It is clear that a company’s balance sheet indicates the amount of working capital available. This capital, equity or funds meet the necessary day-to-day expenses of every organization and are crucial to an enterprise’s success. Though big businesses are more likely to keep aside abundant working capital to meet their expenditures, startups and SMEs can avail working capital loans to ensure that there are no gaps in meeting expenditures to keep their enterprises running smoothly.

Capital Float is a reputable digital lender with a deep understanding of the unique requirements of a business. Our loan packages are designed to fulfil every short term expense that you will come across.

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Making SMEs Loans a Breeze With Capital Float – ProductNation

Interviewed by Kritika Prashant

Typically, choosing to finance the SMEs looking for working capital loans, is not easy. First, the SMEs have smaller ticket size. Then they expect quick service and have high operational costs associated with it. ProductNation interviewed Shashank Rijyasringa and Gaurav Hinduja who started Capital Float in early 2013, a digital finance company that serves the loan requirements of SMEs in India.

Shashank having worked with McKinsey and Bain, has a background in creating, and packaging financial instruments. Gaurav on the other hand had grown and sold his family business before they met at Stanford as classmates.

“We were looking to address financial inclusion. We observed how the fin-tech space was being disrupted in US and China, and saw the huge opportunity in India. With 48 million SMEs, second just to China, with 50 million, India needed lenders who would tailor their offering to the needs of the customers. The rate of interest by the banks was much higher than expected. Also, the loan disbursement ate up a lot of time. So this need was largely catered to by the informal sector”, says Gaurav.

Registered as an NBFC with RBI, they started with an instrument for invoice financing (building loan product against invoice of blue-chip companies). The duo gradually evolved their products to provide working capital loans for SMEs. They developed underwriting models which address the specific scenarios of the SMEs.

“There are 2 broad categories of sellers coming up on eCommerce portals. First are those who sell on platforms like Zovi and Myntra, where the sellers are also the manufacturers. Other category includes retailers who sell on sites like Snapdeal and Paytm. They generate a huge demand for loans available at short notice periods with minimum hassle. That is where we found our sweet spot”, shares Shashank.

Here are some experpts from the interview:

How did you overcome the problems of traditional lending?

SR: “Firstly, our experience came in handy. My in-depth knowldge of micro-financing, packaging and selling loan instrument meant we could build the right services. Gaurav with his experience of running a business out of India, knew how to deliver the services we wanted to build.

Secondly, we met with our customers to understand what their problems really were. To a small business owner, every hour spent off the floor is an hour wasted. We came up with innovative methods like allowing same day approvals and providing loan facility over phone and laptop. These businesses needed greater accessibility and straight-forward procedures. They wanted someone who could understand the value of their time.

Third, and definitely the most crucial point was that we adopted trial and error method. Like any startup, we didn’t know exactly how things would work. We were building our instruments in-house. So we had to fail fast and experiment quickly. With agile methodology, today, we can deliver new loan products in 2 weeks. A bank would take about an year to do the same.”

How is the policy environment evolving in India, with respect to your industry?

GH:  “The Mudra banks for refinancing are a welcome move. With 950 million Aadhar numbers issued, allowing eKYC, is it much easier to issue loans. The Digital India initiative to create better internet connectivity will help us reach a much larger customer base.”

They are leveraging the Indian stack to refine their instruments and are growing with it.

How difficult is it to get payback of loans?

SR: “SMEs are the most financially aware and responsible segment, since they always manage their finances tightly. Also, our screening process mitigates high risk customers, allowing us to cater to the needs in minimum possible time frame. So that’s not much of an hassle.”

What would be the 3 lessons you have learned from your journey?

GH: “1. Perseverance – One needs to believe that the idea would work, when no one else knows if it will. It is important to stick to that optimism and keep trying to find the exact fit.

  1. Strong fundamentals – From the first day, the business needs to know where its money will come from. The cash flow should not be dependent on where one is, in the funding cycle.
  2. Rounded team – Build a great team if you want to build a great product. A strong team stands by you to make it possible.”

What would you say to the entrepreneurs starting up fresh out of college? 

SR: “There is no right time to startup. Whenever you get passionate about a problem and see a large market for it, go for it. Here are my 3 tips:

  1. Address a big problem. If you go after a problem which is not so big, it may not be worth all the effort. India provides huge opportunities with really major problems that need to be addressed.
  2. Maintain discipline. Whatever you do, think big and build for the long term.
  3. Understand your responsibility. As you grow your team, you need to realise that families of your employees are getting dependent on you. It is essential that you take your decisions wisely.”

What are the mistakes you wish you did not make?

GH: “We were too slow in the start. We should have been aggressive, and believed in ourselves more. We thought people might not accept a technological solution. We have realized however, that technology has to lead the change in society. Invest in constantly being disruptive and you will definitely make a difference.”

News piece sourced from ProductNation. Read the full piece here.

Oct 24, 2018

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Why Fintech Lenders are the Best Option to Avail Business Finance

Many start-ups are launched, propelled by a brilliant idea, but often face tough times due to inadequate funds. The first impulse is to turn to banks, which, however, usually refuse requests for a loan for business without security. They also ask for plenty of documents to corroborate the need for the grant and the purpose that it will be used for.

A parallel source of finance for small businesses come in the form of non-banking financial companies (NBFCs). Traditional NBFCs offer loans on terms similar to banks, but they do not hold a banking license. In addition, unlike banks, they cannot accept deposits from public. Other than loans and credit facilities, they can offer retirement planning schemes, money market instruments and underwriting activities.

While small and medium enterprises (SMEs) have been turning to banks and NBFCs to get loans, the long-drawn process from application submission to disbursal of funds is still a deterrent for many. After the financial crisis of 2008, there was an even greater need for reliable sources of business finance. Interestingly, the digital technology that gave rise to online banking and e-commerce was also progressing at a fast pace in the same period. This helped to create a new segment of NBFCs in the form of financial technology, known as FinTech companies.

With the aid of complex analytic tools, FinTech companies evaluate credit risk by using an array of customer data, including their digital footprint on social media, e-commerce platforms, smartphone usage and geo-location.

How are business loans by FinTech lenders more convenient than traditional loans for borrowers?

Conventional NBFCs do not usually have a human-centric approach to lending. The lengthy and cumbersome process of applying for business finance that requires piles of physical documents tires out borrowers. Young entrepreneurs who are eager to expand their operations and are confident about returns on their investment cannot afford to wait for long. Also, delays in work can also harm their long-term business interests. They need an alternative source of funds that can cater to their needs more actively.

What draws the digitally perceptive entrepreneurs to a FinTech company is its ability to offer quick loans at competitive rates of interest. Such companies have a holistic approach towards risk assessment and do not ask for heaps of paper-based documents before they start considering an approval for the loan. The basic files needed to check the creditworthiness of the borrower can be uploaded on the encrypted portals of FinTechs.

The advanced machine learning algorithms that these lending platforms employ read through information such as the net earnings of a business, the educational and professional qualification of its owners, the location from which the business operates and the returns on investment that it drew in the past one year. In comparison to this, a traditional NBFC loan is issued to companies that have been in business for at least 3 to 4 years.

Summarily, the prime reasons for which business borrowers prefer FinTech platforms are:

Simplified application process – Instead of visiting a branch in person, they can apply for the business loans from anywhere and at anytime. As the process is digital, all they need is a reliable Internet connection and the soft copies of minimal documents.

Swift funding – Unlike conventional NBFC loans, the funds from a FinTech corporation do not take long to be approved and disbursed.

No prepayment penalties – To make up for their loss on interest due to early pay-off on the loan, banks as well as most NBFCs charge a percentage of the loan amount as penalty. This is not the case with new-age technology based lending organisations. If a borrower can afford to make complete payment on the loan earlier than its stipulated tenure, there are no extra charges.

No hidden charges – You may on occasions have felt surprised when a bank or NBFC told you that there would be a payment protection “insurance premium” charged on your business loan. In the traditional lending sector, such charges are normal. The lending institutions claim that these help in protecting the monthly loan instalments in case sudden sickness or an accident prevents you from making payments on the loan. FinTech organisations do not include such clauses in their agreements. The funds are granted for business expenses in the short term and are approved based on the ability of the borrower to pay back.

The ability of FinTech firms to trawl the online portals and gather data relevant to the borrower’s paying capacity helps in affording more growth opportunities to start-ups. Many SMEs in India have reasonably strong business models, but they still cannot manage to get funds from banks and traditional NBFCs. This shift towards technology-backed alternatives has been favourable for promising ventures.

At the same time, the conventional lending institutions should also understand that FinTech companies are not a threat to their existence. Both these sectors can collaborate with each other in areas such as customer acquisition, product innovation, analytics, sales enablement and cyber security.

The access to innovation through digital peer-to-peer lenders allows NBFCs and banks to create competitive advantages for their own business.

Customer-centric innovation triggered by FinTechs is here to stay. The possibility of getting a loan for business without security or collateral is real. Open architecture-based wealth management tools, Big Data and online financial advice will continue to help entrepreneurs.

As a digital-age lender in this domain, Capital Float uses proprietary algorithms to inspect large amounts of data and evaluate a potential business borrower’s creditworthiness. We offer timely business finance without collateral to SMEs, start-ups, and freelancers to help them bear the expenses that are crucial for their stability and growth in the business world. Our process of judging the payment capacity of businesses is automated, fast and flexible, while also being diligent. If you need loans in less than a week and do not have a very long history in your industry, do not let any refusal from traditional NBFCs discourage you. Visit www.capitalfloat.com to find the business loan best suitable to you.

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