Annapurna Finance, one of the top ten NBFC-MFIs in the country, gets awarded as India’s Most Admirable Brand by The Brand Story.
September 1: Established in the year 2009, Annapurna Finance Pvt. Ltd is now one of the top ten NBFC-MFIs in the country. It has its roots as a part of a not-for-profit entity, Peoples Forum, an NGO which worked for the development and welfare of unserved sections of the society. The microfinance activities started with the inception of Mission Annapurna Finance under Peoples Forum from the year 2005. Mission Annapurna Finance was able to reach the unserved interior areas of Odisha through its untiring effort of addressing the economic necessities of poor women at their doorstep. As the program grew, there was an utter need to transform itself into a more streamlined entity. The gradual transformation of Mission Annapurna Finance brought forth the name Annapurna Finance Pvt Ltd (AMPL) in the year 2009.
Annapurna Finance was established to serve economically backward clients by bringing them to the mainstream, providing need-based financial services at their doorstep. The focus has been clear, to reach the areas where formal financial institutions find it unprofitable to settle in. Its objectives have been limited to just reaching and serving and providing financial and technical support to strengthen entrepreneurial skills for business activities’ effective and efficient undertaking. AMPL registered itself with the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) as an NBFC-MFI in 2013.
Annapurna Finance, over the years, has continued to innovate in its products and delivery mechanisms to make the whole product life cycle of micro-credit as relevant as possible for its clients. The aim is to offer multiple need-based products, which can serve specifically all the customer life cycle needs of micro-credit. In just a decade, Annapurna has grown in manpower, operational area, client outreach, and credit products. It is a family of 7000 employees working in 856 branches across eighteen states across the country. Annapurna has an Rs. 4,560.48 cr portfolio outstanding with a client base of 1.9 million, among them 95 per cent are women.
Apart from group loans, Annapurna also provides a Housing finance loan, Samarth loan, SWASTH loan, Dairy development loan, Solar loans, Consumer durable loans, Home improvement loan, and PM SVANidhi loan. All the loans mentioned above are custom-made to match the needs of its client base. For example, the Samarth loan is a product for financial inclusion of persons with disabilities, unmarried women, widowed women, and transgender whereas SWASTH (Safe Water and Sanitation to Households) provides a way to access safe water and sanitation facilities at households. Annapurna offers business loans to micro, small and medium enterprises to provide hassle-free loans to registered and unregistered business segments. The business community usually utilizes these funds to start something new, renovate the existing business infrastructure, or expand their businesses. The ticket size for the loans varies based on the client’s profile.
Annapurna’s CSR activities include AamaGhara, Mobile Medical Unit (MMU) and various other initiatives. AamaGhara is a child care institute that is also recognised as a specialised adoption agency. Through this initiative, Annapurna promotes the holistic development of children residing there. MMU was introduced as a post-disaster initiative after cyclone Fani hit Odisha. MMU provides specialised doctor consultation for a needy section of the society, especially to women, children and elderly citizens. It also launched its first-ever digital program on DD Odia to enable students to access lessons through television during the pandemic. There was the distribution of masks and PPE kits for rural people and COVID warriors, respectively. Other CSR activities include plantation drives, flood relief programs and school development programs.
Annapurna has a flat and transparent organizational structure. In addition to this, the culture promotes a gender-sensitive approach to all its employees. Annapurna believes in strong work ethics and innovation. It has a dedicated team for risk analysis and GIS, which help in facilitating the process. It also has a separate credit and appraisal team along with an independent internal audit vertical. It makes checks and balances a part of the process, translating to more transparent and competent work culture.
With time, technological changes and innovations in the microfinance industry have increased lots of scope and opportunities for improving organizational efficiency among the financial providers. MFIs are incorporating technological advancements in their operations and financial services to provide better services to clients. To understand various determinants of technological change, Annapurna Finance Pvt. Ltd has also practiced various innovative initiatives for the betterment of the organization. Some of the most popular products that the company has introduced this year are Just-in-Time loans and digital loans for MSME.
With the idea of decreasing the human load and interference while disbursing the loans, MSME Customer facing application is one of the innovative digital lending loan concepts. This end-to-end digital lending application will help the clients access the loans without going through any rigorous documentation other than the basic requirements. Some of the bestselling loans of Annapurna like business, housing, and personal loan are added to the scheme to help the clients availing the loans immediately without many processes and waiting time by using AI and MI, which further helps in taking credit decisions by reducing the turnaround time.
The Brand Story appreciates the considerable efforts of Annapurna Finance for serving the economically weaker section of society by offering them financial services at their doorstep. Dr. Abhay Kaushik, Editor in Chief and Director, The Brand Story, said, “The objectives of Annapurna Finance have extended beyond outreach to financial and technical education while strengthening entrepreneurial skills. Over the years, Annapurna has innovated its products and delivery mechanisms while making the product life cycle as relevant as possible. The Brand Story is proud to award Annapurna Finance as India’s Most Admirable Brand.”