British International Investment

Utkarsh Small Finance Bank

South AsiaFinancial services

Based in Uttar Pradesh, Utkarsh is a small finance bank which provides financial services to the under-served low-income rural and urban population in north and east India.

It started operating back in September 2009, and provides group loans, micro, small and medium enterprise (MSME) loans, housing loans and savings accounts to the unbanked population.

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

Our investment

Description of the investment.

In late 2014, CDC made an $10.6 million direct equity investment in the institution. The funding was used as growth capital to increase Utkarsh’s customer reach, product range and to help it expand into other services including micro-enterprise loans.

In November 2016, Utkarsh received a licence to become a small finance bank enabling it to offer a wider range of banking services to the poor and low-income population. CDC invested $22.1 million of Tier 2 debt in Utkarsh to support the launch of its banking operations.

In November 2017, we invested a further $3 million of equity to support the company following economic disruption caused by the demonetisation of certain banknotes in the country.

Other key investors include the International Finance Corporation and Aavishkaar Goodwell.

Expected impact

Expected impact of investments made between 2012 and 2018. From 2019 onwards, we have published a fuller set of impact information, assessing each investment against six dimensions of impact.

Utkarsh's core business lies with group loans to under-served individuals. Its current client base includes 1.3 million active microfinance borrowers, who are mainly women.

These small groups of four to 10 women, usually based in rural areas, are offered loans ranging in size from $100 to $420 to support small-scale business growth and farming. This, in turn, delivers wider economic benefits to their families and local communities.

Following its transformation into a bank, Utkarsh now also offers a savings channel and other important financial services (such as insurance) for its previously unbanked clients.

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.

    June 2024
    Project number

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    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

    The countries where the investment delivers impact. Where impact is delivered in multiple countries, this is indicated.


    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.

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    Investment type :
    Start date :
    November 2017
    Amount :
    Currency of investment :

    The company or investment fund’s place of incorporation.


Related investments made by BII into this company:

Investment name Commitment Region Sector Start date Status
Investment 01 $10.61m South Asia Financial services December 2014 Active
Investment 02 $22.09m South AsiaSouth Asia Financial services January 2017 Exited

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