Jain Irrigation Systems Ltd. (JISL), India’s largest and the world’s second largest micro irrigation company has obtained regulatory approval from RBI to launch a NBFC. The new joint venture is incorporated in the name and style of “Sustainable Agro-commercial Finance Ltd.” to be commonly recognized by its acronym; SAFL (pronounced SAFAL). SAFL will be a non-deposit taking NBFC.
The JV is to commence initially with Jain Irrigation, promoter entities and International Finance Corporation (IFC) – a member of the World Bank Group as equity shareholders with some banks and financial institutions joining the equity shareholding at a later stage. The NBFC will focus its activities on farms and farmers only and operate in the rural and semi urban geographies of India. SAFL’s launch will mark a new milestone in the thinly populated space of private sector financing of agriculture.
During the last 50 years of Jain families’ and 34 years of JISL’s operations involving close dealings with the farmer community, it has realized the critical need and abundant scope for extending finance to farmers with quick turnaround time and without procedural hassles. The farmer community in India can achieve much higher productivity and profitability, if aided with a package of user friendly financial services bundled together with products of JISL rendering agriculture a sustainable activity and a rewarding economic way of life.
SAFL will be the first NBFC in India to provide agri-loans with a wide and diverse range of financing options for almost every agricultural need. The main products will include MIS financing, Agri Project Financing, Contract Farming, Small Business Loans, Solar Pumps and Appliances Financing, Third Party Tie-ups, etc.
JISL has decided to promote the NBFC with an overall objective of serving the small farmer and rural constituencies in a more comprehensive manner. This NBFC will leverage JISL’s customer knowledge and expertise and will aim at the following key objectives:
a. Farmer empowerment - through adequate and timely disbursement of finance.
b. Increased Agricultural production-by assisting economic growth through increased efficiency and productivity.
c. Rural Prosperity - focus on improving rural lifestyle and enabling small farmers to achieve their aspirations.
In essence, the ethos is to make the individual farmer’s life “SAFAL”.
SAFL will be headquartered in Mumbai and will commence business activities in the post monsoon period. It is in an advanced stage of setting up around 25 offices in Maharashtra by end August 2012 to begin with. Another 15 offices in Maharashtra are scheduled to be opened by December 2012. Subsequently, in the second phase, offices will also be opened in the states of Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Tamilnadu, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan. Phase three will cover offices in remaining States. A pan India presence through a network of around 150 offices is envisaged in a period of 3 to 4 years.
Simultaneously, activities related to recruitment of staff and setting up a customized state-of-the art IT infrastructure are underway. SAFL will be staffed by professionals from the field of banking/finance with a blend of exposure to rural enterprises and agriculture.