Fusion Microfinance: Transforming Rural India by Impacting the Lives of Millions

Devesh Sachdev Founder, CEO & DirectorIt’s often phrased that bright future belongs to the ones who chase dreams. But imagine living in a household where you cannot even dream of a better future for your children. Sumitra, a resident of Dhampur village in the outskirts of Uttar Pradesh along with her husband and two daughters, was living such a perturbed life, mirroring a large woman population in the country. As her husband’s earnings was never enough to pay for the school fee, children’s education was an abiding nightmare for them. Finally, the inevitable happened, and they were compelled to withdraw children’s names from the school. It was one of the darkest days in their life.

Left with no hopes, they slowly started finding terms with the set back. But future belongs to the one who takes right decision at the right time too, not just the dreamer. It was from one of those routine neighborhood talks Sumitra for the first time heard the name Fusion Microfinance - the company giving loans to the villagers. After several days of mind-battle with her own convictions and petrifying stories about borrowing, Sumitra took a loan from Fusion to buy a buffalo, and started selling milk. She in fact repaid the loan easier than she could ever imagine, and received the second loan to buy four more buffaloes. Since then her family has never looked back. It’s not only that the children re-joined school, but she also bought a bicycle for her husband, living the dream of many women around the world.

We live in a planet where a billion women, around 40 percent of the world’s female population, don’t have access to a bank account. In India, though union government’s ‘Jan Dhan Yojana’ raised the woman-bank-holder population to 77 percent (against 43 percent in 2014), around 85 percent of them (women with bank account) still don’t save formally - at banks. Many of them only have simple dreams about a better life – to get books for their children or provide clean water and nutritious food for their families. Fusion (an NBFC registered to the RBI) helps to realize such dreams, in fact their basic-rights, by ensuring financial inclusion with a broad vision and business orientation to provide underprivileged women with economic opportunities to transform the quality of their lives. Operating on the time-tested Grameen Joint Liability Group(JLG)model, it provides loans ranging from Rs.12,000 to Rs.50,000 for a tenure of one year to two years. It also offers life insurance for its clients and their spouse.

Making them Dream against the Odds
Came into existence in 2010 under the aegis of Devesh Sachdev (Founder, CEO & Director), a XLRI Post Graduate with more than two decades of experience in building diverse businesses, Fusion within merely eight years has become the youngest MFI in the index of top 10 MFIs in India. It scored a whopping 92 percent in Code of Conduct Assessment in May 2017, against the guidelines of unified code of conduct, RBI FPC and RBI guidelines for NBFC-MFI. Indeed, this prestigious status is an outcome of its exemplary efforts invested in going deeper into the underserved and unserved segment of society, and impacting the lives of more than a million Indian women like Sumitra by not only providing credit, but also imparting literacy, driving empowerment and thus fulfilling their aspirations. Till date, Fusion has completed cumulative disbursal of more than Rs.3,500 crore.

“Since the full-fledged financial inclusion of rural villages comes with a much bigger challenge of transforming villagers into the digital era, most of the MFIs focus on the urban population. Applying a lion share of focus on rural areas, we take on this challenge with a diversified portfolio,” asserts Devesh.

Taking Bull by its Horns
The challenges on paper in fact paints a rosier picture than its practical counterpart, starting right from the need for inculcating saving-
habits to driving financial & digital literacy, providing emergency loans to meet customers’
ad hoc needs. Moreover, creditworthiness of the unbanked segment also becomes a stumbling block. While offering cutting-edge financial solutions under RBI guidelines to 199 districts in 14 states penetrating 48,031 villages, Fusion takes on these challenges with a highly streamlined operating methodology.

Fusion helps to realize such dreams by ensuring financial inclusion with a broad vision and business orientation to provide underprivileged women with economic opportunities to transform the quality of their lives

With its holistic vision, Fusion starts right from conducting(digital)financial literacy programs within the perimeters of village. In addition, the company has devised a seamless customer on-boarding process alongside toll free client grievance services supported by a dedicated team which understands their needs, and delivers services at the door-step. It also shares the creditworthiness data with the credit bureau. Coupled with a close-knit team that works in a highly collaborative ecosystem, it backs up a robust model with strong governance mechanism and transparency in all the aspects of work.

Above all, there is a dire need flaring up in terms of automation, not only to acquaint the customers with the new talk of the town - Cashless Economy, but also to drive faster turnaround time of deliverables. With several digital branches operating in paperless mode with 100 percent cashless disbursements, Fusion currently operates at more than 55 percent cashless disbursement. Being at the forefront of leveraging technological advancements, the company goes beyond Cloud Computing to include data analysis of existing clients, and area identification through Lucrative Index Analysis. Fusion also has an automated contract tracking system, which aids in outreaching masses quickly, sending notifications, and in turn maintaining a lively relationship with its customers. Moreover, the company thus far has linked more than 95 percent of its customers’ Aadhar with its data base. Abreast of introducing mobility solutions and eKYC based customer onboarding, Fusion today is looking forward to accelerate its cashless drive by venturing into Cashless Collections as a sequel to the acclaimed Cashless Disbursements Project.

Taking Part in Nation-Building
“Mahatma Gandhi rightly said, ‘The future of India lies in its villages’. We believe that our commitment is a lot more than our financial services. By constantly challenging ourselves, we endeavor to raise standard of rural-living through our highly focused CSR & SPM activities,” adjoins Devesh. Besides the digital & financial literacy programs, Fusion sets new visionary benchmarks for MFIs around the globe by getting down to the ground and providing livelihood trainings to the villagers. For instance, it has initiated a skill development program - ‘Jivika’ that offers skilling in paper bag making, sewing & cutting, and pickle & papad making, along with training on product-packaging and enhancing their knowledge on selling the products in the right market.

Amidst of multifarious programs including rural development, relief & welfare, and environmental protection, Fusion’s CSR activities also comprise organizing health camps for its clients (mostly women) and their families in rural areas, and thus enabling them to avail the services of Gynecologists, General Physician, and ENT & Eye specialists.

Nevertheless, for being able to play such versatile roles, Fusion owes to not only its spirit-driven management team marshaled by the dynamic founder, but also its 3206 people strong workforce, aligning perfectly with its core values: Respect for the Individual, Collaboration, Transparency & Humility. En route to the future, having crossed Rs.250 crore in revenue with an AUM of Rs.1600 crore, the company aspires to grow as a family of more than five million customers woven together with a committed workforce of 5000+ within the next three years. According to CRISIL, less than 20 crore borrowers in India had a loan from a bank or a microfinance institution, and only 34 crore out of a population of over 120 crore had an insurance policy. Projected towards continuously increasing these numbers, Fusion will continue to take part in building the nation - from the bottom.

Key Management:
Devesh Sachdev, Founder, CEO & Director
Devesh’s expertise lies in building business, managing large teams in a cost efficient manner, strategy, key relationship management and handling all dimensions of the business. An industry veteran, Devesh has grown Fusion into one of the leading microfinance institutions in the country.

Offices: New Delhi (headquarters), and eight regional offices spearheading 393 branches

Offering: Microfinance Services

Awards & Recognition:
• MFIN Microfinance Award for best NBFC MFI in driving Customer Literacy and Capacity Building in May 2018
• ‘BW Business World’ Award for ‘Best Usage of ICT in Rural Development’ from Union Minster Ravi Shankar Prasad in May 2017
• Featured in the 15th Asian Network of Quality Congress for the Cashless endeavors in Sep 2017
• Super Achiever's Award in 2016
• Client Protection Certification from Client Protection Principles
• Best MFI of the Year 2014 Award