Inside Mahila Money, a new digital platform offering easy micro-loans to aspiring women entrepreneurs
Seven years after construction Sheroes, a community platform for women first, founder Sairee Chahal now aims to help one million women achieve their entrepreneurial aspirations by giving them the funding and resources they need.
To do this, she recently launched Mahila Silver, a women’s digital bank which aims to fulfill a woman’s growth aspirations and financial products.
With Sheroes, Sairee has built a strong network of over 25 million people, with three hooks – jobs, entrepreneurship and access to capital.
“When the pandemic hit, a lot of people turned to us for help. I have offered subsidized loans out of pocket to help users and understand how the system might work. I thought if I got my money back, we will go further, ”she says.
This is what led to Mahila Money.
Target the right borrowers
According to Sairee, women are big borrowers, and that’s a huge boost in building Mahila Money.
The platform does not provide a service to farmers, artisans or women in rural India. Instead, it serves women who are not served by microfinance.
Vaibhav Kathju and Siddhika Agarwal – co-founders of Mahlia Money
She explains, “To give you an example, think of the character of Sridevi in English Vinglish. She’s ambitious, she has her own business, but no one recognizes her. She could grow her business provided she receives the right resources.
Mahila Money currently offers micro-loans with note sizes between Rs 10,000 and Rs 2 lakh.
But Sairee says his services don’t stop when the loan is disbursed.
“When a woman joins the Mahila Bank platform, she also has access to a large community of other female entrepreneurs who help and guide each other to grow their business, take on challenges and learn how to market their product, why it is important to have a good CIBIL score, etc. “, she says.
Mahila Bank has entered into partnerships with banks and NFBCs like Transcorp, visa, My Shubh Life, Avail Finance and Shivalik Bank.
Simple and stress-free process
It only takes 10 minutes to fill out a form and upload scans of the Aadhaar map, PAN map and other user documents. They receive a “yes” or “no” response within 48 hours.
“It’s 100% digital and, more importantly, there is no need to bring in a family member or a male, which most banks often ask for. Most importantly, women can take out loans on their behalf. We take 120 data points out of the applicant, and if we don’t know their credit history, we see what else we can use to give them a loan, ”she says.
Those who do not complete the application process are integrated into the community to improve their outlook and learn how to improve their financial footprint.
Sairee points out that loans typically have 100% repayment rates, with most women paying up front. If they cannot, they also make sure to communicate the reasons for the delay.
So far, 100 loans have been made to women entrepreneurs across India, and Mahila Money has built a community of 150,000 women.
Sairee cites a few examples to justify how the system works.
“We have a paper cutter artist from Shillong who is using the loan to open a shop for tourists. Two women from Hubbali will use the money to grow their beauty business. Recently we disbursed a loan from a dealer to buy a laptop for herself. Another got it for her beauty salon, and then there are home bakers too. Our repayment terms are also lower than those offered on the market, ”she explains.
While Sairee calls herself the Chief Instigator and Chief Orchestrator of Mahila Money, she has two knowledgeable co-founders in Siddhika Agarwal and Vaibhav Kathju. Siddhika is part of the CEO office of MMTC-PAMP, India’s largest gold and silver refinery. She was a member of the founding team of Digital Gold.
Vaibhav comes from a rich 18-year experience in BFSI and was recently recognized as one of the * 100 Most Influential BFSI Leaders * by the BFSI World Congress. He has worked in companies like Deutsche Bank, DBS, TransUnion Cibil and HDFC.
The initiative works with a team of 12.
At the end of last month, Mahila Money also launched her very first roadshow to meet women and talk about their financial aspirations and challenges. Starting from Mumbai, the first leg will cover six cities in West India.
“Women are already financially curious and want to take it to the next level where they can save more, reach their financial goals, grow their businesses, increase their social status and build an identity – all on their own. Mahila Money aims to support them in their dreams and goals, ”concludes Sairee.