This NGO provides interest-free loans to small enterprises and other top SMB stories of the week

This week, SMBStory also witnessed the journey of athleisure brand Hammer that offers audio devices in various categories, clocking Rs 12 crore so far in the current fiscal.

Banks and financial institutions consider lending to micro businesses too expensive — owing to the small ticket size of the loans. Further, legacy credit systems usually don’t have significant data on credit histories of India’s micro-enterprises. Looking to address this credit gap, this week, SMBStory spoke to Mekin Maheshwari, CEO of Udhyam Learning Foundation — an NGO that provides interest-free loans to SMBs.

Our top picks also include athleisure brand Hammer that sells wireless audio devices. The brand managed to double its turnover to Rs 12 crore this year from Rs 6 crore in the last fiscal.

Udhyam Learning Foundation

Mekin Maheshwari, CEO, Udhyam Learning Foundation

Bengaluru-based Udhyam Learning Foundation provides interest-free loans with easy repayment options to micro-enterprise owners.

It is helping over 500 micro-entrepreneurs in the city build their businesses back by providing them with interest-free loans, and financial and digital training. A vyapaari is eligible for a Rs 10,000 collateral-free loan, and the repayment model is Rs 100 for 100 days.

“We decided to offer monetary support and enable vyapaaris to undergo finance and digital lessons after the loan is availed. Creating business plans, managing profit and loss accounts, and developing capabilities in marketing decisions and customer service are included in the training curriculum. This enables the vyapaaris to better utilise the funds,” says Mekin Maheshwari, CEO of Udhyam Learning Foundation.

The NGO has been helping micro-entrepreneurs since May 2020. It raised Rs 21 lakh and gave grants worth Rs 5,000 to 420 vyapaaris to resume their business, the CEO claims. 

Read the full story here.


Rohit Nandwani, COO, Hammer

Rohit Nandwani sensed early on that there was space for a private label in the wireless audio devices market. Two market developments had caught his attention — Apple launching AirPods, and several smartphone brands discontinuing the practice of offering earphones plugged to handsets. And, with Rs 30 lakh, Rohit started Hammer in Haryana. 

Hammer started offering audio devices in various categories — earphones, headphones, home audio devices, et al. But soon, it streamlined its offerings.  

At present, Hammer makes wireless audio devices such as headphones, earphones, and fitness bands. These products are priced between Rs 999 and Rs 3,999. 

The R&D of these products happens in-house, while the manufacturing takes place in India and abroad. Manufacturing units near Manesar and Panipat account for 20 percent of the production, and the rest comes from units in Germany, Taiwan, Estonia, and Vietnam. 

Hammer recorded a turnover of Rs 6 crore in FY20, which has doubled to Rs 12 crore so far in the current fiscal. It expects to close out FY21 with Rs 16-18 crore in turnover.

Read the full story here.

Other top stories of the week:

Chandra Lamp Shades

Abhishek Goyal, Junior Managing Partner and Devendra Goyal, Senior Managing Partner at Chandra Lamp Shades

Chandra Group was founded in 1918 by Seth Shivcharanlal as a hotel in Bengaluru, long before the city became the metropolis it is today. Over the years, the company has expanded as much as the city. It has verticals across real estate, interiors, hardware, etc.  

SMBStory spoke to Abhishek Goyal, Junior Managing Partner at Chandra Group’s lighting solutions company, Chandra Lamp Shades (CLS), started in 1991. 

The business launched its online presence amid the coronavirus pandemic after operating offline for years. CLS has 40-50 employees.

Abhishek doesn’t disclose the company’s turnover but says the figure has risen 50 percent from FY19 to FY20.

Read the full interview here.

Edited by Suman Singh


Updates from around the world