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Swadhaar’s mission centres on making financial inclusion a reality for India’s low income households as well as small and micro entrepreneurs, particularly those which are unregistered. Financial inclusion, as defined by the Centre for Financial Inclusion at ACCION International, refers to “a state in which all people who can use them have access to a full suite of quality financial services, provided at affordable prices, in a convenient manner, and with dignity for the clients.” Swadhaar’s vision of financial inclusion involves making available a diverse array of products to its clients. The expedient delivery of these products comprises an important part of this goal. Swadhaar strives to extend to its clients the same ease of access to financial services enjoyed by higher income members of society. This emphasis on providing both a full suite of products and a high level of service quality informs Swadhaar’s values and distribution methodology.

When Swadhaar initiated microfinance activities, the urban low income in western and central India remained largely excluded from the formal financial sector. Most Indian microfinance providers operated in the South and focused on rural areas. In keeping with its vision of financial inclusion, Swadhaar initially tailored its operations specifically to this under-served urban market, cultivating a client-centric approach with an emphasis on flexibility, choice and convenience. It now operates in rural and urban markets, with a slant to urban areas where there is a larger presence of micro enterprises.

Market Segments
Swadhaar focuses on segments that fall between the traditionally bankable and the ultra-poor populations targeted by government and non-profit initiatives. Because many slum-dwellers/ unregistered enterprises do not definitively qualify for either segment, they remain excluded from both full financial access and social aid programs.

The micro finance segment focuses on economically active women whose income falls under or just above the international poverty line ($2 a day). These women are usually secondary earners in their households. Some do not have a steady income of their own but may contribute to a home-based or family enterprise. Despite their limited income, these women typically manage their households’ finances and invest earnings back into their families. This population is unable to access formal credit, as most families lack the requisite documentation and collateral guarantee requirements. Swadhaar’s focus when serving this segment, in addition to providing financial access for business expansion, is to empower these women to improve their livelihoods, build on their capacities and ultimately become self-reliant.  

The segment for micro enterprises targets male and female micro-entrepreneurs whose income exceeds the poverty line but whose businesses are smaller than small & medium enterprises (SMEs). This middle group of micro-entrepreneurs does not qualify for the formal capital available to the SME segment, although they tend to run businesses larger than those of microfinance clients and thus enjoy relatively higher incomes and financial capacities. Most are the primary earner in their household. Due to their lack of collateral and documentation, they face difficulties accessing formal credit.

In addition to the two segments described above, Swadhaar is continually exploring opportunities to serve other financially excluded, low-income populations in India.

Beyond Credit
The Company recognizes that to achieve economic security and self-reliance, its clients require a full suite of financial services, including insurance, savings facilities, and financial literacy training. Swadhaar FinAccess (SFA), a non-profit company founded by the promoters of Swadhaar, conducts a financial education program to enhance participants’ financial management skills and business skills. Swadhaar recognises the importance of having an independent organisation conduct financial education, as the Company encourages clients to value this training in and of itself towards building the capacity for prudent use of financial services. The programmes also facilitate access to appropriate products, recognising that training without product uptake and usage tends to diminish the effectiveness of the same. These programs are not restricted to Swadhaar clients, and are available to the general members of the communities that Swadhaar operates in. Please visit www.swadhaar.org for more information on SFA’s activities.

1Center for Financial Inclusion at ACCION International,

Copyright February 2011 Swadhaar Finserve Pvt. Ltd.                CIN: U65990MH2007PTC175181