South Asia Financial 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.

Our investment

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.

Expected impact

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.

Environmental and social aspects

CDC worked closely with Equitas to develop client protection practices, which protect vulnerable borrowers, as well as broader environmental and social performance.

Key facts


Since 2012, we’ve only invested in Africa and South Asia. Investments outside these regions are from our pre-2012 portfolio.

South Asia

We have seven priority sectors. However, we continue to invest outside these sectors, largely in the most challenging regions, as new investment supporting any sector helps to underpin the private sector, and create jobs and livelihoods for people.

Financial services
Investment type

We provide capital in three broad ways: direct equity, debt, and intermediated equity (principally through investment funds).

Direct Equity
Start date

For direct investments, this is the date British International Investment committed capital to the business or project.

For funds, this is the date that British International Investment committed capital to the fund.

For underlying fund investments, this is the date that the fund invested capital into the business.e

December 2013

For direct investments, this is the total amount that British International Investment has committed to the business or project (it may be a combination of equity and debt).

For funds, this is the total amount that British International Investment has committed to the fund.


This is the investee company’s place of incorporation; or a fund’s jurisdiction.


We are now British International Investment