Thriving amidst difficult environments has never been easy for SMEs in India, but they continue to stand tall. Despite numerous challenges in the form of infrastructural constraints and lack of access to formal credit, they contribute to 8% of the GDP. Rightly called ‘the engine of growth’ for India, SMEs have scaled manufacturing capabilities, reduced regional disparities and balanced the distribution of wealth.
Small businesses are now being increasingly associated with innovation and employment, and the figures state likewise. The micro, small and medium enterprise(MSME) sector contributes to 69% of employment in India. With the growing penetration of technology into mainstream ecosystem, these industries are at the forefront of bringing the convenience of digitalization to the masses.
The Indian economy is expected to be a $5 trillion economy by 2025, and SMEs are cutting roads towards this goal. As we enter the first financial year post implementation of GST, some interesting small business trends are touted to play an important role for a smoother growth journey to global standards.
Here are the latest business trends that you can keep in mind while setting your objectives for FY 2018-19.
Business Trend 1: Rise of Online B2B Marketplaces
E-commerce marketplaces are gradually gaining momentum worldwide, and has branched out to B2B trading platforms. While this is still at an embryonic stage in India, there is no doubt that the potential it holds is huge. According to experts, the scope of the ecommerce B2B industry is six times bigger than the B2C industry, and is estimated to be worth $620 billion industry by 2020.
Companies such as Amazon Business, Alibaba, IndiaMart, Power2SME, etc. are popular online platforms that connect B2B buyers and suppliers to fulfill their business requirements. These digital platforms have helped small businesses surpass technical and geographical limitations to procure raw materials in bulk at reduced prices and also become official supply partners to large corporations. This is one of the hottest small business trends of 2018 that will present aspiring as well as budding entrepreneurs a level playing field with industry leaders.
Business Trend 2: Personalized Customer Outreach via Automated Tech
With the oldest of the millennials attaining 35 years of age this year, the target audience has shifted by a generation. For an age bracket that has been wrought in technology, this band of consumers need more than online communication. They seek a personalized line of contact when availing services from small businesses, with 60% of them choosing emails as a preferred way to establish this connect.
Since the millennial generation has the highest buying power in the market valued at $44 billion globally, this is one audience you don’t want to miss out on. You can target them by leveraging interactive videos, engaging images, and emails customized with these elements for varying demographics. The use of intelligent virtual communication applications will help you implement this in an efficient and cost-effective manner.
Business Trend 3: Easy Access to Business Credit with FinTech Lenders
The biggest hurdle for small business owners has always been financing. For a country with 50 million SMEs, there is an unmet credit deficit of a staggering $350 billion. Traditional lending institutions are limited by conventional underwriting that caters only to a certain strata of businesses. Lack of collateral, documentation and operational history have been crippling factors that prevented SMEs from qualifying for formal finance. This, in turn, pushed SMEs to the informal sector where the high interest rates charged by moneylenders fettered borrowers to a chronic cycle of debt.
But, FinTech lenders are shifting the narrative by leveraging technology and unconventional data points to provide affordable loans to small businesses as well as consumers. With customized credit products and zero collateral requirement, these digital financiers bridge the gap that had long existed in the market.
Business Trend 4: Big Data to Drive Operations and Decisions
‘Is Big Data too big for SMEs?’- is a question that requires intensive analysis, depending on the goals that define the small business and its operations. Many SMEs see big data projects as unapproachable and sophisticated, owing to the difficulties inherent in understanding huge datasets. However, studies reveal that a calculated use of big data has a colossal impact on the growth of small businesses and has been the chassis for many popular business models.
This business trend is expected to revolutionize the SME sector by speeding its pace of development. New-age digital lenders do finance technological incorporations if it shows a direct correlation to business growth, so you needn’t worry about the funds for investing in Big Data. Check out Unsecured Business Loans for more details.
Business Trend 5: Shifted Focus on IT Security
2017 saw one of the largest cyberattack worldwide, the WannaCry ransomware attack, that caused the encryption of data on computers running the Microsoft Windows operating system and risked the exposure of sensitive data of companies in over 150 countries. Though the attack was stopped within a few days of discovery, the total damages were estimated to be in billions of dollars.
The IT industry in India contributes to a key part of the country’s economy, a significant number of enterprises will begin to invest in dedicated security systems that focus on detection and response, a shift away from conventional systems that were based on prevention. Security enhancements offered by SaaS/Cloud based platforms have become more affordable for small businesses to establish a dominant architecture for data integrity management.
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“It takes money to make money.” We often hear this adage in the business world, and it does hold true. Even so, maintaining adequate cash reserves to meet the fixed and variable costs can be a real challenge, especially for start-ups and small businesses.
Most of the small and medium enterprises (SMEs) initiate operations with a low level of funds while simultaneously facing competition from established players and dealing with the challenges of seasonal cycles. Consequently, they may not be able to generate the estimated sales volumes.
Even if a venture is performing as per expectations, it may need to make additional investments to hire qualified experts, adopt new technologies and maintain larger stocks of materials/inventory for sustained progress. With experience, SMEs know that a cash cushion is necessary for both survival and growth. An Unsecured Business loan for Traders best offers this advantage.
There are multiple sources of an SME loan for small enterprises, and sincere business borrowers approach a financial institution only when they are confident about and can prove their venture’s ability to pay back in time. Nevertheless, a high number of applications get rejected because these borrowers are unable to pledge financial assets as collateral against a loan.
Not everyone owns huge property. New entrepreneurs often start their operations from rented premises and may not have any significant assets to hypothecate. A secured business loan for traders can also be denied if the lending institution does not deem a particular asset to be valuable enough for the funding.
What comes as a relief for business owners is the fact that an unsecured SME/MSME loan is a prominent option for finance, and it comes at significantly more customized terms.
As the digital revolution continues to transform the lending industry, the possibilities of quick funding have only increased for small businesses, and there is an array of SME loan products available to them. A digitally operating FinTech company offers term loans that can be used to buy new premises (shop/showroom/office) or expand the business to new locations. Entrepreneurs can also apply for a working capital loan to continually fuel operations in the low phases of the business cycle.
Moreover, FinTechs offer loan to buy stocks. This facility is particularly helpful for customer-facing ventures such as retail and restaurants.
What is common to all these FinTech credit products is that they are unsecured loans – they can be taken on short notice and without pledging any asset as collateral.
How to apply for a business loan for traders ?
A majority of new-age business managers now understand the lending models of FinTech companies. Those who are still unaware of the concept can always do a quick online search to comprehend it. In brief, a FinTech lending company typically is a non-banking financial company (NBFC) that uses digital technology to make financial solutions quicker to access.
A business loan for traders is highly sought by small enterprises. Any Pvt Ltd (private limited company), LLP (limited liability partnership firm) or Sole Prop (sole proprietary company) can approach FinTech lenders for unsecured business loans.
While the exact eligibility criterion differs as per the kind of SME loan applied for, the principal requirement is the operational business history of at least one year. Pursuant to the rules of the money market, this stipulation is necessary to show that the business owners are genuine and have been running the company for some time.
To qualify for the requested amount, a business with active operations should also show its commitment towards tax compliance. It should also have a precise idea of its loan requirements. This not only helps the borrowing organisation to increase its chances of getting an approval for the credit, but it also makes it convenient to choose the right type and term of the loan.
Anyone applying for a business loan for traders should understand the cost of the loan upfront. When a FinTech is approached for such an investment, this cost includes the interest rate and a nominal processing fee that is usually less than 2% of the borrowed amount.
The application process is entirely digital, and that makes it shorter than the overwhelming procedures of visiting a traditional lender, printing multiple copies of documents and then staying in suspense for weeks to get the required amount.
Applying for a loan from a digital platform takes less than 10 minutes, and the application formats are available on the secure website of the FinTech lender. The application form usually comprises of some basic questions to evaluate the eligibility of the business for a loan. These questions include years in operation, average annual/monthly revenue, tax payments and past credit history, if any. Digital uploads of the relevant documents support the information.
There is no waiting game when a business applies for a loan from a FinTech lending company. As soon as the application is submitted, its evaluation by customised algorithms begins, and it may then be sent for a quick manual review.
FinTechs notify the borrowers of the decision on the application on the same day. If the decision results in an approval, they disburse the total approved amount in the next 2-3 working days. The amount is credited directly to the business bank account, and the SME can withdraw the necessary sums to fund the operations/stock purchases as required.
How to pay back the borrowed amount ?
Most loans are paid through equated monthly instalments (EMIs), and the same method can be used to repay a FinTech SME loan. To make this process more convenient for their borrowers, some companies give them the flexibility to vary the instalment amount when required. As soon as the business records reflect better revenues than the estimations, it can pay off the loan in full and save the trouble of managing EMIs for the complete schedule. The prepayment penalty charged by a FinTech is still less than that of banks and traditional NBFCs.
Is your business facing a cash crunch? Do you want to move to the next level of growth or invest funds to start operations at a new location? Capital Float is a friendly FinTech lender that is trusted by businesses in multiple industries. From term loans and working capital loans to funds for specific domains such as medical practice and online selling, we provide an array of credit products tailored to the needs of business owners and self-employed professionals.
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To know all about the loan that you seek and the amount that you can borrow, feel free to call us at 1860 419 0999.
Oct 24, 2018
MSME is an important sector for the Government, as it maintains a relentless focus on increasing GDP and employment. Formalization of MSME businesses is being undertaken on a massive scale after demonetization and the introduction of GST. The core focus of the Union Budget 2018 indicates the Government’s commitment to continue strengthening MSMEs from the base of the sector.
Lending a Hand to MSMEs
With the Union Budget 2018-19 in play, the refinancing policy and eligibility criteria under Micro Units Development and Refinance Agency (MUDRA) program will be reviewed to encourage easier financing of MSMEs by NBFCs. The Government has set a target of ₹3,00,000 crores for loans to be provided under MUDRA in 2018-19. Specific measures to address NPAs of MSMEs were promised to ease the cash flow challenges that they face. The tax burden on MSMEs has been reduced by axing tax rate to 25% for those with revenues of below ₹250 crores. Recapitalization of PSU banks will add an additional ₹5,00,000 crores to the available lending pool this year. A unique Aadhaar-like identity for each enterprise is planned for streamlining business identity. This measure can enable Fintech lenders to process eKYC of enterprises swiftly and offer working capital finance in a matter of minutes. Furthermore, the Finance Minister Arun Jaitley called out Fintech lenders in his speech and emphasised their importance in financing the development of MSMEs in India.
A five-year tax holiday was granted to Farmer Producer Organisations (FPO) with a turnover below ₹100 crores to encourage post-harvest value addition. The Government has also promised a Minimum Support Price (MSP) crop of 1.5 times the production cost to farmers. In addition, several proposed measures related to the farm sector include – funds to develop agricultural markets, improve agricultural logistics, enhance rural connectivity, and distribute Kisan credit cards to farmers in fisheries and animal husbandry sectors. This sets the precedent for these sectors to create a digital footprint, facilitating them to receiving customized finance in the future from digital lenders like Capital Float.
The Finance Minister proposed to extend the tax relaxation period to 150 days to footwear and leather industry to boost the creation of employment at the grassroots level. An additional ₹10,000 crores have been allocated for fisheries, animal husbandry and aquaculture industries. This is expected to aid more micro-segments in being included in the formal financial ecosystem
New Financing Avenues
In a bid to help start-ups and venture capital firms to attract foreign investments in niche areas, the Government will evolve a coherent and integrated policy for ODI (Outward Direct Investment) and hybrid instruments. The basket of eligible FDI instruments will be expanded to include these under certain conditions.
Taking a Position on Crypto Assets
The Government has reiterated that it is illegal to transact using cryptocurrencies, though it does not categorically state that it is illegal to hold these assets. The Government will intensify its efforts to eliminate illicit transactions in cryptocurrencies. It also proposes to explore the use of Blockchain technology to enable more transparent payment mechanisms to boost the digital economy further. These efforts certainly forward the shift of business transactions from being paper-based to paperless, while adding clarity on which methods of digital payment are acceptable and which aren’t.
MSME – Key to India’s Industrial Growth
MSME sector plays a key role in India’s journey towards becoming the 5th largest economy in the world. Several measures to ease cash flow have been proposed which are likely to make lending more readily available to MSMEs. With Fintech lenders leading the charge on the financing front, MSMEs can be expectant to receive timely credit support to actualize their business ambitions and achieve remarkable growth this year. Several micro-segments are also expected to be absorbed into the formal financial system, as Fintech lenders like Capital Float continue to champion for the cause of financial inclusion in India.
Oct 24, 2018
There has probably never been a better time to start a business in India. Multiple positive developments in the recent past have laid the foundation for a thriving entrepreneurial ecosystem for years to come. Some Governmental initiatives such as “Make in India”, “Startup India” etc., have indicated that at the highest level of policy-making, there is now a strong desire to support new businesses. Increasing digitization and improving infrastructure means that even the youngest of businesses can now reach out to millions of potential customers. The brightest minds in the country are now being drawn away from previously coveted corporate jobs and are opening up to the challenge of executing an indigenous endeavour from ground-up. These are exciting times.
These young businesses can bring significant value to the Indian economy. At their helm are smart, passionate entrepreneurs with products or services which cater to tangible demands in the market. With the right support and nurturing, many of these ventures can grow into successful businesses. However, far too often, we see many of these budding entrepreneurs failing to realize their true potential. While there can be many reasons why a young business fails to scale up, research globally has identified a clear obstacle – lack of appropriate and timely credit.
The problem of the “Missing Middle” in developing economies is well documented. Such economies have a large number of micro-firms, some large firms but very few medium-sized firms. The absence or the paucity of medium-sized enterprises isn’t because these businesses lack the potential to be profitable, but because access to finance is traditionally a cumbersome process. In India, less than 1/4th of the financing demand of SMEs is met by formal institutional supply. Small businesses fail to benefit from the leverage which debt financing provides and is essential for propelling growth. As a consequence, SMEs contribute to only 8% of the Indian GDP – a stark contrast with the 40%+ contribution made by small businesses in developed economies.
This is not to say that the financing needs of SMEs are being completely ignored. For more than two decades lending to small businesses has been a priority agenda item for policy makers and regulatory bodies. A host of initiatives have been launched but on-ground progress has been slow. A key bottleneck is that these small-medium sized businesses are unable to furnish adequate credit history.
In a country like India, with a thriving informal finance ecosystem, most small businesses do not build credit records in their initial days as they can access finance through informal lending channels. As the size of their operation increases, so does their financial need. At this point, they are unable to turn to formal means of credit supply due to the lack of universally recognized documentation. At this stage, their growth is stunted as the informal market is unable to provide required financing at reasonable rates. It is a perfect Catch 22 scenario – to get credit you need to have prior history but to have prior history you need to secure credit!
Building credit history with a bureau, e.g. CIBIL, takes time. Start small, be patient and build it over time. In India we now have personal as well as business credit scores available separately, though the former continues to be the more dominant decision input to most underwriting models. The credit worthiness of the promoter of a small business is crucial since the fortunes of the business are so closely entwined with his personal credit standing. It is thus vital to establish and grow your personal credit score. Start with small loans and service them in a timely fashion. If you are unable to get unsecured financing (e.g. a credit card), you can potentially start with a secured loan (e.g. auto loan) or a loan which is backed by a guarantor. Do not over-leverage your self – having multiple loans outstanding and/or high utilization on your existing limits negatively affect your score. Avoid such credit behaviour. Most of these points apply to business credit scores as well – start small and diligently service re-payments.
The entrepreneurial journey can be a deeply rewarding one. Focus on building your credit history along the way to help achieve your goals.
Vaibhav has over seven years of experience in the financial services industry across analytics, sales and trading. He has worked across major financial centres in Asia managing equity portfolios of large institutional investors across the region. In his last role prior to joining CF, he was a member of the Program Trading desk at Deutsche Bank’s Sydney office. He holds a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree from IIT Kharagpur in Electronics Engineering and is a CFA Charterholder.
Vaibhav heads Business Development at Capital Float.
Oct 24, 2018