British International Investment

Equitas Holdings Limited

South AsiaFinancial services

Equitas specialises in providing loans to small entrepreneurs. Based in Chennai, southern India, it lends money to three million microfinance customers in 616 locations across 12 Indian states.

It also offers lending for affordable housing and financing for commercial vehicles.

Since its creation in 2007, the company has become one of the leading microcredit businesses in India. It is publicly listed, and holds a small finance bank licence from the Reserve Bank of India.

This investment was made when British International Investment was named CDC Group.

We have now exited this investment. This is what we achieved.

Achieved impact

In 2013, we invested in Equitas with the aim of supporting the business to improve financial inclusion for the urban and rural low-income segments the company targeted across India. Our investment aimed to do this by supporting the business to diversify its product base away from traditional microfinance lending, including increasing customer deposits and specialised lending products.

During the time of our investment, the company saw a growth in its total loan portfolio and a growth in customer deposits.
We also supported Equitas to develop and implement an environmental and social management framework and advised on best-suited sustainability disclosures and guidelines, to help formally integrate risks.

Equitas has become one of the largest small finance banks in India and continues to operate at a profitable scale.

Expected impact

Since 2013, we've invested a total of about $40 million in Equitas, $22 million in equity and $18.1 million in debt.

Our investment has supported Equitas as it has grown and diversified the products and support it offers SMEs and individuals, allowing it to reach more poor and unbanked customers with a broader range of financial services.

While larger businesses in India receive a high proportion of investment, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), and individually owned businesses, struggle to access credit and financial services. The IFC estimates that in South Asia, around 80 per cent of SMEs can’t access the formal financial services they need.

Equitas provides responsible loans to small entrepreneurs and many of its customers are women. A loan will help them to improve their business, add to their income and improve their quality of life.

Before loans are made, borrowers attend training sessions, where they learn about how the loan is to be used.
Once loans have been made, Equitas’ support for its customers continues. The company offers skills training and health services, supports low-income households with food and grocery expenses, and provides affordable education for its customers’ children.

Since we invested in Equitas, the company has been able to create 10,000 new direct jobs – going from 3,000 employees in 2013 to 13,000 today.

Reporting and Complaints Mechanism

The Reporting and Complaints Mechanism allows anyone outside BII to report alleged breaches of the business integrity or environmental and social provisions of BII’s Policy on Responsible Investing. This includes breaches made by BII, a BII investee, or a portfolio company of a fund in which BII has invested. The Reporting and Complaints Mechanism Rules are available here. Reports and complaints can be submitted by email to [email protected] or by mail. See more details on our Reporting and Complaints Mechanism here.

For any other general enquiries contact us at [email protected]

  • Key facts

    Last updated

    When the last quarterly update of the website database occurred.

    :
    March 2024
    Project number

    An identifier number shared by investments in the same project.

    :
    D18
    Status

    The current status of the investment (green flag for active and red flag for exited).

    :
    Exited
    Region

    The geographical region where the country is located. We currently invest in Africa, South Asia, South East Asia and the Caribbean. In 2023, BII’s investment mandate was extended allowing it to invest in regional funds linked to Ukraine, with the majority of activity expected to begin post-war. Investments outside these regions were made prior to 2012 under previous investment mandates.

    :
    South Asia
    Sector

    We prioritise those sectors that facilitate development and need our capital the most. Our priority sectors contribute towards many of the Sustainable Development Goals. They range from investing in the power infrastructure that will provide people with better access to electricity, to investing in financial institutions that direct capital to the individuals and businesses that need it the most.

    :
    Financial services

    We provide capital in the following ways: directly – through direct equity, direct debt, guarantees and other non-intermediated financial instruments; and indirectly – principally through investment funds.

    For direct investments and fund investments, this is the date BII committed capital to the investments. This is typically the date on which legal agreements are signed by all parties.

    For the portfolio companies of our fund investments, this is the date (either the month or the quarter) on which the fund committed capital to the portfolio company.

    For direct equity investments, this is the date at which British International Investment exited the investment.

    For debt investments, this is the date at which the final debt repayment was made.

    For funds, this is the date at which the fund was terminated.

    For underlying fund investments, this is the date at which the fund manager exited the investment.

    The total amount committed, per financial instrument, per investment, on the date BII becomes subject to a binding legal obligation to provide funding or assume a contingent liability. This information is provided in US dollars.

    For direct investments, this is the amount that BII has committed to the business or project. For fund investments, this is the amount BII has committed to the fund.

    The currency in which the investment was made.

    Investment type :
    Equity
    Start date :
    November 2014
    End date :
    December 2022
    Amount :
    $5.95m
    Currency of investment :
    INR
    Domicile

    The company or investment fund’s place of incorporation.

    :
    India

Related investments made by BII into this company:

Investment name Commitment Region Sector Start date Status
Investment 01 $16.16m South Asia Financial services December 2013 Exited

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