S Viswanatha Prasad
Managing Director, Caspian Debt
Enabling the growth of enterprises working towards creating social and/or environmental impact, in a responsible, transparent and sustainable manner, is the raison d' etre of Caspian Debt. As a multisector debt funding company providing customised debt to professionally managed small and mid-market companies, start-ups and social enterprises, Caspian Debt aims to impact social and environmental factors in a manner that is empowering and positive.
Accountability factors high in Caspian's KRA. As Prasad puts it, "We hold ourselves equally accountable to not only our shareholders but also our stakeholders, including employees, suppliers, communities, clients and investor partners."
Over the last 15 years, the enterprise has tried to articulate and measure how capital helps address pressing social and environmental problems. Caspian Debt's investee and portfolio companies today impact over 13 of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. In addition, it also plays an active role in start-up communities comprising incubators, accelerators, networks, investors to nurture, mentor and support entrepreneurs.
According to Prasad, SMEs account for a critical part of the economy, but their access to finance is a challenge, even today. "Our aim is to provide customised, collateral free debt solutions to professionally managed responsible SMEs who find it difficult to raise funds from banks without collateral. 80% of the companies funded by us go on to raise further equity and debt capital and 83% of the companies show positive CAGR in revenues", he adds.
With over 50 financial institutions as clients, Caspian has impacted over 83 SMEs, cumulatively disbursing over 16 billion in loans and impacting over 20 million lives. Over 40% of these have been led by women. "We would like to be part of entrepreneurial success and demonstrate that being good is rewarding", adds Prasad.
The journey for Prasad has been made fulfilling by establishing new paradigms in achieving impact without compromising on financial returns, serving low income customers sustainably and making positive change for communities around them. "Two things that have never failed an entrepreneur is setting up good governance practices and being transparent since inception of the organisation. It is not something you postpone till you scale, it is the very thing which will help you scale," he concludes.