Improving the Profitability of Private Schools

Intimidated by the long-drawn process of getting a loan approved from conventional sources such as banks and traditional NBFCs, schools in India often discard the idea of borrowing funds for improvements on their campus. They try to make the most of their limited available funds, even if it means some degree of compromise on the quality of upgrades they had planned for the school.

Such an approach does not bring any benefits in the long term. In some cases, it may even backfire. For instance, if a school purchases low-quality furniture due to inadequate funds, which causes discomfort to students/staff using it for 6-7 hours every day, it may not only tarnish the school’s reputation but also cause serious health problems for the users.

What comes as a relief is that school loans are available on easy terms from FinTech companies that are essentially NBFCs but have a streamlined digital lending model for quick disbursal of funds. From a loan for buying school furniture to any other loan for school development, they can provide funds within a week of application receipt. The application needs to be substantiated by only the soft copies of a few documents verifying the credibility of the school.

So what are the benefits of leveraging a quick school loan from such a source? Does it lead to more profitability for the educational institution?

Here’s how the benefits of these loans unfold:

Enable improvements in infrastructure and purchase of new teaching equipment

FinTechs can provide a loan for school construction which helps the borrowing institution to divide students of the same class into different sections. With this, teachers can give more attention to each student, and the quality of teaching improves. The building structure can also be expanded when a school decides to admit more students or has to advance its existing classes to higher grades.

Schools can also take a loan for smart class facilities that are sought in every private school today and have become significant for a generation growing in the digital age. Other areas where a school loan can be used include furbishing of labs and computer rooms, purchase of games supplies and investment in vehicles for transportation services.

Invigorate interest in admissions

The most direct impact of bringing improvements in school facilities is a rise in the number of students who want to be a part of the institution. While senior students can understand the benefits of moving to an optimally planned school on their own, the parents of younger children who join an academy from kindergarten will also try to place their children in such a school. Provision of excellent facilities and keeping pace with new techniques that transform the learning environment is a natural incentive for more admissions in a school.

The good repute of a school can instantly attract students who move to the city due to their parents’ job transfers and have to find an educational institution in minimum time to avoid loss of studies in an ongoing academic session.

Collection of more fees

More admissions imply higher fee collection, and constant increase in this amount eventually leads to increased profitability for schools. A school loan taken to add new facilities and create better learning experiences has multiple benefits for schools that aim to be the leaders in delivering quality education services. Evidently, the increase in their earnings also helps them to repay the borrowed fund.

Whether you need a small loan for school furniture or up to Rs. 50 lakh to finance any development process in your school, Capital Float ensures that you get it most conveniently. Visit https://www.capitalfloat.com/school-loans to apply for your fund today.

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We want to be in 100 cities in the next 12 to 18 months: Gaurav Hinduja & Sashank Rishyasringa – Business Standard

Written by Alnoor Peermohamed

Bengaluru-based startup Capital Float, which lends to small and medium enterprises (SMEs), plans to grow its presence from 40 cities to a 100 cities in the next 12 to 18 months. While sellers on e-commerce platforms make up a large chunk of whom the company lends to, it says it will focus more on tier 2 and tier 3 businesses, which might be solely offline but have the potential to grow massively. Gaurav Hinduja and Sashank Rishyasringa, founders of Capital Floatalk to Alnoor Peermohamed in the company’s plans. Edited excerpts:

The e-commerce segment is fairly new and there’s bound to be volatility. How do you think that might impact your business?

Hinduja: E-commerce merchants are the core to what we do and it’s an important vertical, but we’ve also diversified outside.

We do loans to a lot traditional SMEs — brick and mortar, manufacturing and service type of organisations because that segment is 30-40 million, whereas e-commerce is 100-200 thousand. I think almost all sellers sell on all marketplaces. And when we underwrite the business, we look at a combination of things. Sales across marketplaces, and how does that look across his offline sales as well, because a lot of sell offline. We look at a holistic view of the business before we actually decide to give the person a loan.

Data on sellers is harder to come by in the offline world. How are you tackling that?

Rishyasringa: You’ll be surprised as to how much data is available on any business in India and that’s very much a big part of the IP we’ve built since the early days. I think what we’ve been able to do is build a lot of pipes for data sources such as Aadhaar, NSDL, and a whole host of other government and legal databases.

The borrower is also able to give us access to a lot of data that we can then use in deciding what terms and what kind of loan to give them. For example, social media is a very interesting input that we consider in our underwriting model.

On the online piece, yes there is some additional data which helps with the speed of lending. So today we give real time approvals to e-commerce sellers in 10 to 15 minutes.

What is your primary source of raising capital?

Hinduja: Like most financial institutions we obviously raise equity right, and we have raised a little over Rs 100 crore from some of the best VCs, but also we have raised debt.

What are your sort of default rates? How are you working to keep them low?

Hinduja: Ironically, a lot of the bank’s defaulters are not coming from the SME sector. They’re actually coming from large borrowers. A lot of what we do is the underwriting, through different data, and we do that to keep our credit costs, which are defaults, et cetera, really low.

Today they are very low, I’d say 80-90 per cent better than any NBFC that lends to SMEs out there. That said, it is still early days. This is a lending business at the end of the day, there are going to be defaults.

What do you think will happen when guys like Alibaba increase their focus in India? Where do you fit in?

Rishyasringa: B2B e-commerce has the potential to be far larger than B2C e-commerce in India. And we think what Alibaba has been able to achieve in China and in India with its SME base for exporters and importers is tremendous.

We are partners with Alibaba. You can infer from that, that we’re already active in the space and its part of our strategy.

How is this partnership going to work?

Hinduja: They’re going to look at us to help get more SMEs to become active Alibaba users. But at the same time a lot of their SME merchant base will require financing, whether it’s for domestic transactions, or cross border transactions. They will look at a financer that really has the speed and the agility to meet the SMEs requirements in that sense.

What are your growth plans?

Hinduja: We want to be in 100 cities in the next 12 to 18 months and obviously a lot of that growth is going to come from tier 2 and tier 3 towns. Because banks really don’t have a presence there.

While people and SMEs in the top 8-10 cities can still access a bank branch, bank branch penetration in those tier 2 tier 3 towns is almost negligible. I think that’s where we’ll see a lot of growth and through the make in India and e-commerce stuff you’ll see a lot of business growth in those cities as well.

What sort of regulatory hurdles do you see yourselves having to cross?

Rishyasringa: Actually in the financial services space I think we’ve got a very proactive regulator and what you’re seeing in these payment banks, small finance banks, e-KYC, I think these are all steps in the right direction and we obviously hope that we continue to see these steps.

News piece sourced from Business Standard. Read the full piece here.

Oct 24, 2018

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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.

Oct 24, 2018

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Impact of GST on Your Day to Day Business

The Goods and Services Tax or GST goes live on July 1, 2017, but the process of consolidation and enrolment has already begun. Aiming to standardise indirect taxation in the country as far as goods and services are concerned, the GST will have a multi-fold and direct impact on the workings of businesses, whether large corporate houses or SMEs.

A quick overview of GST will help businesses understand its implications play to its advantage.

About GST

GST is a standardisation of the indirect taxation regime across the nation, leading to subsuming of many earlier state and central tax regime laws. Now, goods and services will be taxed under four basic slabs—5%, 12%, 18% or 28%—creating a new norm in indirect taxation. Traditionally, indirect taxes have had a very significant impact on businesses, particularly on their working capital. A number of taxes such as VAT, Service Tax, Excise Tax and others have resulted in huge contributions to the government and in effect, a huge expense for businesses. The hidden nature of indirect taxes, often spreading across multiple stages of the product cycle, has been a significant drain on working capital. Typically, the proportion of indirect taxes is significantly more in tax collections in developing countries, as compared to developed countries, where the share of direct taxation is significantly higher.

With the implementation of the GST, tax buckets are set to change, as also the way of doing business, as the cash outflow and timelines are about to be significantly affected. Working capital is the lifeline of a business, one that keeps it up and running. Especially for SMEs, it helps carry on day-to-day operations, which are critical to business continuity and success.

Here are some key GST changes that will directly affect your business and working capital flows.

  1. Input tax credit changes: As per the existing taxation system, any tax paid on a business expense that is not directly related to taxable sales is not available as credit. For example, any tax paid on advertising expenses will not be available as credit. GST has a new concept called the “Furtherance of Business” under which it allows credit of any kind of input for business to be “used or intended to be used in the course of or for the furtherance of business”. Now, a businessman can claim credit for tax paid on advertising services as well, giving the businessman significant leeway. The positive outcome is that cost of operations will greatly reduce, and net margins will increase, thereby bettering the working capital flow of the business, and perhaps the line of credit in the future.
  2. Claims due to inverted duty structure: An inverted duty structure is one where inputs are taxed higher than outputs i.e., raw material excise duty is higher (12.5%) than finished goods (6%), leading to a situation where the excess i.e., 6.5% is unused and gets accumulated. Under the current regime, this excess is not refundable. With the introduction of GST, businesses can now claim the unutilized input tax credit accumulated due to inverted duty structure. This, coupled with a speedy claims process, is a boon to boost the working capital of businesses.
  3. Timeliness of input tax credit: Currently, the input credit that a businessman avails is not captured in real-time, or in other words, in line with the current tax liability of the supplier. With GST, the input tax credit amount will depend on the compliance level of the supplier, making it compulsory for the supplier to declare the outward supplies along with the tax payment.  In a way, you might be responsible for your supplier’s failure to furnish valid returns. This may mean a dip in your cash flows since the input credit tax that you have claimed will be reversed and you will be expected to pay interest too, apart from losing out on the credit. GST will thus mandate businesses to manage their vendors very effectively. Review your current vendors and continuously monitor compliance levels to avoid this concern.
  4. Advance tax payments: Under the GST regime, tax needs to be paid on advance receipt dates. This is a major change, since so far this was applicable to only service tax under the current system. Now, if an advance is received against supply at a later date, the tax is liable to be paid on the date of advance receipt. The matter becomes worrisome since even though the business pays tax in advance, it cannot be claimed under the bucket of input tax credit immediately. It can be availed only once the goods or services are received.
  5. Taxation of stock transfers: The current VAT rules do not treat stock transfers as “goods” or “services”. However, with the GST, this changes—stock transfers are included under the category of goods/services and are taxable. This change will directly impact companies’ cash flows because the tax is to be paid on the date of stock transfer, whereas input tax credit can be availed of on the date of stock liquidation. How the working capital holds up in the interim period can be a crucial element to maintaining the working capital levels of the company
  6. The impact of location in offsetting credit: The prevailing Service Tax regime allows for centralised, pan-India registration of business. As a result, there are no restrictions on availing input tax credit across locations. However, under GST, different state entities need to be registered separately. These will be under varying jurisdictions depending on whether they come under the Central GST Bill, Integrated GST Bill or the Union Territory GST Bill. There are certain restrictions to offset a Central GST tax with an Integrated GST tax and so on. This may create difficulties in offsetting tax input credits across locations. For example, you may not be able to offset tax liabilities of one state branch with another state branch. Your liquidity may not be useful, even though it is available, creating an undesirable working capital situation.
  7. It is clear that businesses will need to exert more caution as they transition to GST. A detailed scrutiny of current tax commitments and the impact of the four bills depending on operational locations must be done at the outset to ensure healthy levels of working capital. It is also recommended to explore opportunities for availing working capital finance, or options for a line of credit by looking for the latest financing products such as those offered by Capital Float. Our customised, innovative loan offerings include term finance and online seller finance among others to ease working capital woes that SMEs routinely face. Click here for more.

Oct 24, 2018