First-time borrowers and first-generation entrepreneurs demonstrate resilience during pandemic: NeoGrowth study

Almost 85 per cent of the customers surveyed were impacted due to business shutdown or low business.

First-time borrowers and first generation entrepreneurs displayed tremendous resilience during pandemic

NeoGrowth, an Indian digital lender serving underbanked SME businesses, in its Social Impact Report 2021, states that the company extended 64.5 per cent of its loans to first-time borrowers while 84 percent of the total loans disbursed were to first generation entrepreneurs to overcome COVID-related challenges and capitalise on the opportunity. 

The study was conducted on a sample from a base of over 20,000 MSMEs across seven cities including Mumbai, Pune, Delhi, Chennai, Ahmedabad, Bengaluru, and Hyderabad. It aimed to measure and evaluate the impact created by loans in the lives of its customers.  

While India grappled with the COVID-19 outbreak and despite the challenging headwinds, NeoGrowth extended its lending to first-generation entrepreneurs, assisted women entrepreneurs, and enabled customers in job creation and improvement of credit scores.  

The pandemic disproportionately impacted women, by deepening existing economic and social inequalities, as observed in the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report 2021. The company’s loans to women-run or women-led businesses showed an uptick of 32 per cent. 4 per cent of the total loans disbursed by the company were to first generation women entrepreneurs during the pandemic, thus robustly supporting this section of society. 

Almost 85 per cent of the customers surveyed were impacted due to business shutdown or low business. 70.6 per cent of all customers sustained their business through their own savings, while 10.6 per cent opted for a further loan from the company. Interestingly, envisaging a hit to their existing business due to the pandemic, 3 per cent of the customers started another business in areas that were booming. 

The company advocated and convinced 92 per cent of its borrowers to avail of health insurance.  

As per the survey, 86.6 per cent of the respondents showed an increase in the number of their employees, post availing loans from NeoGrowth. 

The process of digitisation was greatly accelerated by the lending sector, which witnessed 38 per cent YoY growth as of September 2020, despite the COVID-19 pandemic. NeoGrowth disbursed payments through digital channels, increasing transparency, and assisted customers with the process of digitising their business through its proprietary DiGibizz platform. This is particularly relevant as 22.4 per cent of the customers surveyed were not even graduates and 26.5 percent of the MSMEs were from Tier-2 cities. 

Dhruv Khaitan, Founder & Chairman, NeoGrowth said, ”Mankind has been faced by almost insurmountable challenges but MSMEs have adapted and displayed great resilience. The digital lending model along with customer-centric business philosophy have enabled us to stay close to our customers and empower them with both empathy and resources, to tide over this unprecedented crisis. We are proud of the social impact of our business activities in terms of job creation, assisting women entrepreneurs, improving credit scores and lending to first-generation entrepreneurs.” 

These insights form part of an annual assessment conducted by NeoGrowth. Over these years, NeoGrowth has successfully maintained its unique product proposition by providing collateral free, short-term, quick, and customized business loans on flexible repayment terms. Having disbursed loans amounting to more than Rs 6,500 crores, NeoGrowth has been funding and enabling MSMEs to grow and sustain their businesses while continuing to tread on its initial journey of achieving inclusive growth. NeoGrowth also focused on driving economic growth by accelerating digitization of MSMEs and strengthening their credit history.