India: Grameen Koota testing waters to foray into housing microfinance
By Raghuvir Badrinath, Business Standard
Grameen Financial Services (Grameen Koota), the Bangalore-based micro-finance institution is understood to be planning to test the waters to get into housing micro-finance, a segment which is under-served by MFIs in India.
It is learnt that Grameen Koota is finalising a business plan to improve access to affordable housing for the underserved lower-income households, particularly in rural India and build market confidence in the commercial viability of lower-income segments. It is understood that based on a pilot project of this, Grameen Koota can consider setting up a stand-alone specialised housing finance company catering to lower-income segments, which will not only enable faster scale-up and greater outreach, but also open up avenues for long-term institutional refinancing for the institution.
According to people who are working closely with Grameen Koota in this project, Grameen Koota is looking to occupy this space where there are not many MFIs and one which has good potential as many MFIs focus more on short-term loans to the rural and urban poor or for their business needs. “It is fairly unexplored. In order to meet the large demand for housing finance among the lower-income segment, there is a need for specialized microfinance institutions such as GFSPL to enter this market.
This project could also provide the much needed demonstration effect to trigger further private sector interventions in this space and free up government resources and subsidies for other uses,” a senior analyst told Business Standard.
This move by Grameen Koota come hardly a few months after it raised Rs 25 crore through a NCD route which saw the participation of global impact investment firm, ResponsAbility Social Investments, and will be listed in the Bombay Stock Exchange. Grammen Koota had earlier raised Rs 35 crore in February through the same instrument. Grameen Koota’s loan portfolio stands at Rs 320 crore as of June 2012. Grameen Koota’s current backers include, Aavishkaar Goodwell, MicroVentures and Incofin.