The Indian financial landscape has undergone a significant transformation in recent years, with an increasing number of businesses looking for affordable and accessible financing solutions.
Sugmya Finance Private Limited, a new-age, tech-enabled, non-deposit-taking Cat-B lending NBFC, has emerged as a promising player in the space.
The company’s focus on leveraging technology to enable hassle-free lending to MSMEs, micro-businesses, and individuals seeking consumer durable loans has helped bridge the gap between borrowers and lenders. Founded in January 2019 by Vikas Singh and Brajmohan Singh, Sugmya Finance is headquartered in Delhi.
With 140 branches across 9 states, including Bihar, Delhi, Jharkhand, Rajasthan, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, and Himachal Pradesh, Sugmya Finance has managed to scale rapidly despite the liquidity crisis and ongoing pandemic.
The company has added 41 lending partners and maintains a balanced focus on both top-line and bottom-line growth, resulting in profitable operations since its inception.
Sugmya Finance prioritises the safety of its customers and has implemented cashless collection and disbursement. Its impressive track record of 99.9% recovery/collection and zero non-performing assets (NPAs) reflects its commitment to responsible lending practices.
A seasoned microfinance practitioner, Vikas has over 16 years of progressive hands-on experience in the industry, working with microfinance organisations, including Cashpor and Satin Creditcare.
He holds a BSc. and an MBA and has taken several training programs to enhance his skills, including a 6-month Asha Model Training Program from Bangladesh as RM, a 15-day-long training on MFI management at Bangalore by MMW in Jan 2015, a 3-day-long training in Financial Inclusion at Yes Bird Hyderabad by NABARD in 2014, and a 6-day training by M2I on Business Process, Financial Management, and Ratio Analysis.
Vikas has implemented self-help groups (SHGs) projects supported by NABARD and has good exposure to multiple geographic and markets.
A proactive leader and planner with expertise in market plan execution, competition, and market analysis, Vikas, prior to founding Sugmya, was the Deputy Chief Operating Officer with Satin Credit Care Network Limited (SCNL), a prominent Microfinance company.
Being in the finance industry, Vikas had the chance to work closely with senior personnel, who themselves were great entrepreneurs in the sector, and constant idea-sharing took place on Entrepreneurship and Financial Services.
Spending 16+ years in microfinance organisations, Vikas gained versatile expertise in the industry and developed a keen desire to do better service for people at the bottom of the pyramid.
He wanted to provide financial services to the underbanked or those lacking behind the mainstream banking/financial services, especially in tier 3 and tier 4 customer segments.
“As it is said, “God helps those who help themselves”. Teaming with my colleague Mr Brajmohan, we started the process of incorporating an NBFC in 2017 and obtained an RBI License in 2019 for Sugmya,” shares Vikas.
The first branch, “Amlaha”, opened in the Sehore district in July 2020, and Sugmya now has 138 branches providing digital financial services in rural and semi-urban areas and 300 crores AUM having multiple products.
His passion for building his own start-up that could make a social and financial impact on people’s lives fueled Vikas’s drive to start Sugmya.
When they first started, their main focus was to cover all the lacking areas in the microfinance industry and primarily target the rural and semi-urban customer segments.
Vikas kept the government’s Digital India mission and women empowerment in mind and initiated the idea with a motto of digital India in rural India. During demonetisation, he saw it as the right time to implement cashless and digital financial services with limited resources at that time
As a leader, Vikas recognises the importance of having deep knowledge and expertise in different fields and the patience to face any difficult situation.
He believes that constant hard work, a grounded approach, self-motivation, and a never-give-up attitude are all essential components of achieving success.
At the same time, he acknowledges that the organisation’s success is not solely dependent on the leader’s individual efforts but on the team’s collective efforts. Inclusive growth of the team and people associated with the organisation from the very beginning is essential.
Building a business from the ground up has its challenges; Vikas, too, had his fair share of challenges. At the beginning of his career, he had to deal with a major financial crisis due to the sudden death of his parents. The entire responsibility of family and finances made it difficult for him to take any big steps towards any new business idea.
Vikas and his co-founder started Sugmya and opened its first branch during the lockdown. Their idea of implementing a cashless disbursement and collection model faced resistance from their employees and customers.
Regardless, they did so from the first day of the business itself. Despite the challenges, Vikas’s tendency to never give up helped him overcome every obstacle and successfully implement their business. He shares,
Sugmya, being the first NBFC with a 100% cashless model for disbursement and collection, robust credit mechanism, paperless operations, and a tech-driven approach, differentiates from others in the industry.
The organisation has been profitable since its inception and has reduced operational expenses while maintaining transparency and approachability for all employees.
Additionally, the organisation has a wide reach at the ground level and has a top management team that is easily accessible, providing employees with 100% transparency.
Throughout his career, Vikas has achieved several milestones and recognitions, including,
· Started his career as a Field Staff and gained vast experience in different roles, now serving as MD/CEO of Sugmya.
· Received the Best Crisis Manager Award in 2010 during Andhra Crisis.
· Mobilised 3000 SHGs with 100% repayment in Riva, Madhya Pradesh, recognised by RBI.
· Excelled in various roles from CSO to Deputy Manager, receiving multiple awards for Best Employee.
· Appreciated by ASHA Foundation, Bangladesh, for special work on PAR during his tenure in Cashpor in 2007.
· Acknowledged by the COO of Satin for Special Teamwork and managing crisis in 2011.
· Received Indian Achiever Award 2020-21 for a promising start-up.
· Consistency and hard work in Sugmya led to evident growth in AUM, which jumped from 7.96 crores in FY 2020-21 to 102.43 crores in FY 2021-22. The closing AUM for FY 2022-23 is approximately 300 crores, with over 140 branches.
At Sugmya, they value the importance of customer and employee feedback. Before expanding their business or entering a new geography, they conduct customer and village surveys and demand research to ensure that their products and services meet the needs of their target market.
Additionally, they frequently gather employee feedback through meetings to facilitate open discussions.
Sugmya believes in building personal connections with both its customers and employees to foster long-term associations and trust.
They design their products to be socially impactful and tailored to customer needs, at the same time offering their employees a sense of ownership and transparency to bridge the gap between management and the team. Vikas shares,
The impact of digitalisation on businesses can often be underestimated, leading to their downfall. However, with the rapid emergence and growth of technology trends, there are real opportunities for businesses to embrace the potential impact of these trends.
Factors such as cost, regulation, privacy considerations, usability, and societal response can influence an organisation’s ability to respond to a technology trend Vikas shares,
Sugmya’s technological capabilities have allowed them to establish themselves as a leading cashless and paperless fintech company, particularly in tier 3 and semi-urban locations where technology adoption rates are typically lower in the industry.
Advising young entrepreneurs,