From its global newsletter to its major annual events, ANDE members have access to a multitude of platforms for promoting their work and co-creating knowledge with other members. The ANDE Member Spotlight is a series of short, interview-based blog posts highlighting an ANDE member organization and any new projects, recent investments, or ongoing research with interesting learnings that add value to the ANDE community.
The Aavishkaar Group is a global pioneer in taking an entrepreneurship-based approach towards development. The Group is focused on developing the impact ecosystem in the continents of Asia and Africa. Aavishkaar Group manages assets in excess of USD 1 Billion across Equity and Credit, with 6,000+ employees present across India, Indonesia, Bangladesh and Kenya.
Sowmya Suryanarayanan — Lead, Impact & ESG, Aavishkaar Capital
The Aavishkaar Group’s vision is to bridge the opportunity gap for the emerging three billion. We started in 2001, with an aim to solve complex social problems by harnessing the entrepreneurial energy
We have four very distinct entities at the Group Level rooted in strong common principles of access, affordability and sustainability.
● Arohan — India’s leading MFI caters to the needs of the low income households. We serve around 2.3 million customers today
● Ashv Finance — offers customized loans to Micro, Small & Medium Enterprises in India
● Intellecap — is the Global advisory arm of The Aavishkaar Group, which works to build businesses that can benefit the underserved segments across Asia and Africa
● Aavishkaar Capital — Impact fund manager that invests in impact enterprises across the Global South countries
And together, we have been able to create an impact platform to build businesses, create livelihoods as well as strengthen the impact ecosystem across Asia and Africa.
Today, Aavishkaar as a Group manages assets in excess of USD 1.2 Billion, with 6,500+ employees.
Tell us about a recent update or development.
The most existing development has been the launch of our first annual Group impact report earlier this year. While we were earliest to spearhead Impact Reporting, it’s always been for our individual Group companies, and we wanted to recognize how as a Group we go beyond supporting individuals and build entire ecosystems that feed into each other.
We work with entrepreneurs in Low Income states of India, such as Odisha, Jharkandh, Srilanka and countries in Africa and build businesses, create jobs and livelihoods in difficult geographies. In addition, we also tie in aspects such as Gender, Climate Change, Sustainability and Risks and Vulnerabilities reduced because of providing access to an essential product/service in such geographies.
Having said this, we just didn’t want to focus on the numbers but wanted to really bring out the ethos of making an impact through this report. In addition to showcasing how we have supported a 100 million people as a Group across sectors and geographies, over 50% of whom are women. We wanted to connect this to the stories of the women from across geographies who have been part of the impact journey with us.
So we chose 12 stories of bold, powerful, resilient women from across the Group and from different backgrounds to showcase how they perceive impact.
● So Sushma and Kiran from Aavishkaar Capital and Ashv, respectively share their journey on how they were able to the break glass ceiling in a male dominated finance sector in India,
● From Intellecap, Karnika’s talks about her efforts in building an ecosystem for the entrepreneurs in Africa … so we have entrepreneurs like Muzalema, who have benefitted from this and was able to expand her enterprise, Safe Motherhood Alliance in Zambia that solves one of the most pressing issues in pre-natal healthcare.
● Shimpi Devi talks proudly about how she was able to build a toilet — first in her village in Bihar, through a sanitation loan provided by Arohan,
● Thanusha in Sri Lanka was able to set up her own cooperative — really conquering adversity caused due to civil war and building livelihood not just for herself but also for her community — this was possible because Ma’s Food expanded their business through an investment from Aavishkaar Capital
And these are really some of the impact perspectives and human narratives we wanted to bring out through the journey shared by these women, who are spirited entrepreneurs, making a difference as leaders in their domain, household and community.
What elements of this platform tie into ANDE’s urgent issues?
Our Group impact platform ties quite deeply into ANDE’s urgent issues. Just like ANDE we are building businesses, supporting entrepreneurs, creating ecosystems, focusing on the SDG’s, driving impact outcomes and trying to build a world more resilient than ever. Our businesses are all focused on mobilising support, whether its debt, equity, or capacity-building based, towards Small & Growing Businesses (SGBs) in Asia and Africa.
As you can see in our Group Impact report, we’re quite focused on creating inclusion for women entrepreneurs. We also do recognize that we have to do more to promote women in leadership. The Aavishkaar Group Chairman has committed to achieve gender neutral status by 2030 and specific initiatives will be undertaken to achieve this.
We also work with entrepreneurs, such as Nepra, which is one of India’s fastest growing waste management organization’s, to tackle the issues that cause climate change and hamper environmental sustainability.
Tell us how ANDE members can get involved?
We are running a series called Impact Conversations with Aavishkaar Group with an aim to bring together stakeholders from the ecosystem and trigger conversations around Diversity, Inclusion, Sustainability, impact, ESG and so on. In essence what we are trying to do is invite industry experts, leading practitioners to talk us about how they perceive impact, share some best practices and about ways we can collaborate to amplify impact. We invite ANDE members to be a part of this on-going dialogue.
We also welcome you to read our Group Impact report and share your thoughts. You can download the report from the Aavishkaar Group website at Aavishkaargroup.com. If you’d like to know more about our work and collaborate with us, please do reach out to us.
Thank you very much.