International Finance Corporation (IFC), a member of the World Bank Group, has invested $10 million as equity in Power2SME, an ecommerce platform that helps small and medium companies buy raw materials at bulk prices and get working capital without collateral.
Power2SME is a leader in B2B ecommerce for SMEs and is estimated to be five times its nearest rival. In addition to the investment, IFC will also advise Power2SME to help it expand beyond its current 14 states, improve its ability to provide working capital to SMEs by adding more banks as partners, and increase the number of users on its platforms by up to 10 times in five years.
Power2SME is backed by venture capital firms such as Kalaari Capital, Accel Partners, and Inventus Capital. Nandan Nilekani joined as a strategic advisor through his investment in late 2015.
“IFC’s extensive experience in supporting the SME sector through financing and deep networks with banks and financial institutions will help us in our vision to make SMEs bankable,” said R Narayan, Founder and CEO, Power2SME.
Micro, small and medium enterprises form a large part of the Indian economy, accounting for 45 percent of the country’s industrial output and 40 percent of its exports. There are 48.8 million MSMEs in India, which employ 111 million people. There is critical shortage of long-term funding for the sector. Some estimates put the gap at $320 billion against a total of demand of $500 billion. India has the largest base of SMEs in the world after China. However, Indian SMEs contribute only 8-10 percent to the GDP, compared to 60 percent in China.
“Our investment in Power2SME will spur greater VC interest in the SME sector in the country and support India’s vision to become a global manufacturing hub,” said Ruchira Shukla, Venture Capital and Private Equity Lead, IFC South Asia.
IFC makes direct equity investments in start-ups and as a limited partner in venture capital funds. Our focus sectors include consumer internet, edutech, healthtech, cleantech, and B2B eCommerce.
IFC is one of the early institutional investors in India’s SME finance space and a supporter of companies that develop digital platforms to transform traditional sectors. IFC has invested close to $1 billion in financial intermediaries in India to enable credit financing for SMEs. Since 1956, IFC has invested in over 400 companies in India, providing $17 billion in financing to the private sector.