New Delhi: SEWA Grih Rin Limited (branded as Sitara), an affordable housing finance company of the Self-Employed Women’s Association (SEWA) Group, has raised USD 20 Mn in Sewa Grih Housing (‘Sitara’) through a mix of primary and secondary investment in tranches. The round was led by NMI and WWB Asset Management with three existing investors – HDFC Holdings, Oikocredit and Omidyar Network Fund Inc. also participating in the round.
SITARA has attracted USD 34 million in the capital since it commenced operations in 2015. Its business model combines lending with social impact – catering to a niche market of informal housing tenure or incomplete property documentation – wherein it assists potential customers to make the property title legally executable. SITARA is expected to continue to benefit from the support of its investors and a further equity raise is planned towards the end of current fiscal. The company had a loan book of USD 46 million as of June 30, 2022 and a customer base of around 15000 borrowers.
Commenting on the fundraise, Ms. Shruti Gonsalves, MD & CEO at SEWA Grih Rin Limited (Sitara), “The fund raised will help us to grow the loan book and expand the company’s operations into newer locations to meaningfully support women in realising their dream of owning a house of their own. With this, we propose to help around 7000 families additionally in the current FY by disbursing around USD 63 million and consequently achieve a book size of USD 97 million in current FY.
She further added, “Sitara was set up with a mission to provide housing to low-income women. We are proud to have impacted 70,000+ lives by helping their families access good quality housing. Our unique operating model emphasizes assisting customers to formalize their collateral and helps in their social upliftment. We are thankful to our existing investors and lending partners for their continued support in Sitara’s growth journey. With this infusion, from NMI and WWB Asset Management we will redouble our efforts to touch 200,000+ lives by FY25.”
Arthur Sletteberg, Managing Director – NMI said, “Our investment in Sitara will be NMI’s first investment into the affordable housing segment. We strongly believe that access to safe and affordable housing plays an important role in poverty reduction. NMI will support the Company in its efforts to reach the ambitious targets set. We aim to be an active and value-adding investor and are looking forward to joining like-minded investors on the Sitara Board. We are impressed with what we have seen from the Company so far and optimistic for its future.”
Rajat Arora, Principal Investment Officer and Head of Asia – Women’s World Banking Asset Management (WWBAM) said, “We value the impressive track record of Sitara in providing financial services to underserved individuals and the empowerment potential of its offering, especially for women. Sitara’s experienced leadership and high-energy team are united under a shared vision to ensure superior customer delivery. We look forward to partnering with Sitara in the next stage of growth to reach among the top affordable finance players in India.”
Sitara started its operations in 2015 as an affordable housing finance company for under-served and low-income households in urban and peri-urban locations, with a special focus on advancing the land rights of women in the informal sector. Its business model combines lending with social impact – catering to a niche market of informal housing tenure or incomplete property documentation – wherein it assists potential customers to make the property title legally executable. Through innovative use of alternative collateral and progressive tenure documents, SEWA Grih Rin Ltd. works towards bringing these families into the fold of formal financial services. Additionally, Sitara as Part of ESG also has a Gender Action Plan which focuses on not only promoting Gender Balance and Inclusivity in the team but also on capacity building of our customers who are women from low-income families.
The company provides loans in the range of INR one lakh to thirty lakh for house construction, extension, purchase, and renovation. Currently it operates through a network of 36 branches in 8 states including Delhi, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Maharashtra, Gujarat and Haryana, and has an AUM of USD 46 million with 15,000+ customers.