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The credit deployment to India’s micro and small enterprises (MSEs) had witnessed decline following the Covid outbreak last year as well as post second wave this year.

Credit and Finance for MSMEs: Digital small business lender Lendingkart on Wednesday said it disbursed Rs 1,198 crores loans to 17,000 MSMEs during FY21 as it announced results for the pandemic year. The non-banking financial company said that it has registered growth of 70 per cent during the financial year with operating profit growing to Rs 96 crores in comparison to Rs 56 crores for the preceding FY, recording a 4.2 per cent return on assets. Lendingkart ended FY21 with Rs 490 crore revenue and maintaining assets under management (AUM) of around Rs 2,500 crores. Launched in 2014, Lendingkart has so far supported 1.2 lakhs MSMEs with cumulative credit disbursement of around Rs 6,500 crores.

“Following a rather conservative stance, Lendingkart slowed down the disbursements during the first half of the financial year, while MSME applications continued to be received through the difficult period. Our tech parent also leveraged this opportunity of the slow down period to invest in technological capabilities such as advanced stage readiness to enter account aggregator ecosystem, enhancing the experience for our omnichannel partners through xlr8 platform, contactless zero-touch loan journey, and cash flow based lending model capabilities to its large scale co-lending partners,” Harshvardhan Lunia, Co-founder and CEO, Lendingkart told Financial Express Online.

The credit deployment to India’s micro and small enterprises (MSEs) had witnessed decline following the Covid outbreak last year as well as post second wave this year. According to the data from the Reserve Bank of India’s monthly bulletin, the year-on-year growth in the deployment of gross bank credit to MSEs in March had plunged to its lowest level, amid the second Covid wave, since May in the financial year 2020-21. The credit outstanding as of March 26, 2021, for the MSE sector, stood at Rs 11.07 lakh crore – up only 2.5 per cent from Rs 10.8 lakh crore in March 2020, according to the monthly bulletin by the Reserve Bank of India. However, the credit growth in March 2021 was down from 6.9 per cent YoY growth in February 2021 and lowest since 1.5 per cent YoY growth in May 2020.

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The fall from 7.7 per cent in March last year to 3.3 per cent in April had reflected the likely early impact of the Covid breakout. Similarly, the current decline followed the second wave that had started to hit in February. The credit growth had bounced back to 6.5 per cent in June last year after two months of decline.

Lendingkart said it had also set aside significant additional buffers to tackle pandemic-related contingencies in future. The FY21 growth was supported by its investors and lenders including public sector banks such as State Bank of India, Punjab National Bank, Bank of Maharashtra, Indian Bank, Bank of India, financial institutions such as SIDBI, NABARD and also from International DFIs such as FMO and Symbiotics as it raised around Rs 1,300 crores during FY21.

“We are now aiming to onboard around 10,000 MSMEs in the coming quarter considering that post second wave many more small businesses are willing to adopt the digital mode of functioning,” added Lunia. Amid Covid, anything which was technology-driven became an automated choice for markets including online education, fitness, e-commerce or banking etc. However, Lendingkart had to walk harder to ensure continued growth in business with “resulting around 15 per cent higher business compared with corresponding pandemic post lockdown period last year.”

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