As Nasreen Taj shares her hopes for growing her garment business, her daughter clings to her skirt, highlighting why planning for the future is vital to Nasreen. She runs her business out of her home in Bengaluru, India, so Nasreen’s two children get to see how hard their mother works every day to pursue her dreams.
Five years ago, Nasreen started making simple tops and leggings to sell. Artoo’s digital lending platform makes it possible for her to receive the financing that entrepreneurs like her need, easier and faster than before. In India, 70 percent of the country’s micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) have no access to formal financing; without credit, entrepreneurs can’t get the funding that they need to purchase materials in bulk, hire more employees, or restock their shelves. That means that millions of businesses make do with what they have, rely on predatory moneylenders, or miss out on opportunities.
So many entrepreneurs have been left out because, in the past, it’s taken too long and cost too much for lenders to reach them. Accion is working with Artoo to change that and give India’s small businesses the same tools that helped Nasreen thrive. Artoo provides lenders throughout India with a quick, inexpensive, and successful way to work with entrepreneurs. Rather than demand paper documentation or multiple trips to a brick-and-mortar office, Artoo is automated, remote, and convenient. The loan officer completes the entire loan via a tablet computer for Nasreen, allowing her a faster loan decision, less anxiety, and more time for her business and family.
With the time and money she has been able to invest in her business, Nasreen has expanded her range to include higher-end textiles, like saris. Regular customers come to Nasreen’s home to buy her colorful, expertly sewn garments. But acquiring new customers is still a challenge — she has to drive around and sell the items from her vehicle. With more funding in the future, Nasreen hopes to open her own shop so that she can reach new customers more efficiently and her business can continue to grow.