Ascent Meditech

According to the World Health Organisation, orthopaedic conditions are the second largest contributor to disability worldwide. Such conditions significantly limit mobility and dexterity, leading to difficulty working and early retirement from employment, reduced accumulated wealth and decreased ability to participate in social roles. In India, orthopaedic disorders are the most prevalent chronic disease affecting over 200 million people. In particular, elderly populations tend to have a higher prevalence of orthopaedic ailments.

Ascent Meditech, a leading Indian medical products company and distributor of niche consumer healthcare products, is helping to provide relief for these chronic conditions.

Ascent, which has built a sophisticated manufacturing, distribution and retail strategy, specialises in wound care, mobility aids and orthopaedic soft goods. The company sold 15 million products in 2017 through its extensive network of 150,000 retail pharmacy points across 12 Indian States. Ascent’s flagship brand of products, Flamingo, is sold in more than 40 countries across the globe.
The company’s products are currently sold to seven million customers, approximately 90% of whom are low-income emerging consumers, with a focus on providing high quality and competitively priced orthopaedics to India’s aging population. The share of India’s population over the age of 60 is projected to increase from 8% today to 19% by 2050. Typically, elderly consumers prefer medical aids over invasive solutions such as surgery.

Dr. Felix Olale, Partner and Global Co-Lead for Health Investments at LeapFrog commented: “The Ascent Meditech team has achieved outstanding growth in the orthopaedic and wound care market, addressing a core need for consumers with high quality products and competitive prices, thus opening up accessibility. We see a huge opportunity for LeapFrog to partner with an outstanding management team to increase production and distribution of Ascent’s quality and trusted products, including the flagship Flamingo brand, in India, Asia, Africa, and the Middle East.”

The investment in Ascent will capitalise on the favourable dynamics in both the domestic and international markets. The $100 billion Indian healthcare market is expected to expand at 12-15% CAGR.

WorldRemit

As a schoolboy in Somaliland, Ismail Ahmed’s brother was one of the tens of thousands of men who crossed the Red Sea to work in the Gulf states. “It was kind of a gold rush, and I became a recipient of remittances from my brother, who would send money back. Then, when I came to the UK to study on a scholarship, I became a sender. I saw remittances from both sides.”

This early exposure to the business of money transfers led Ahmed to later set up WorldRemit. Today he is both Founder and CEO of a business that handles a growing share of the USD $600 billion remittance market.

The key to the company’s success has been Ahmed’s insight and understanding early on, into how the remittances model was ripe for digitization. He observed senders and receivers traveling hours to reach a remittance agent. This required out-of-pockets expenses for travel, as well as time spent away from work.

His response was to build a business that not only offered traditional means to transfer and receive money: bank deposit, cash pickup, but as a digital disrupter, also includes mobile and airtime top-up, reaching emerging consumers with fast, secure, low-cost remittance services

The company is a trailblazer in international transfers to mobile money accounts, dramatically reducing both corruption and costs faced by low-income consumers. Sending from over 50 countries to 148 destinations across Asia, Africa, Europe, Australia and the Americas is possible via WorldRemit.

With an estimated two billion people worldwide still classified as unbanked, but owning a mobile phone, there remains a significant growth opportunity for online and mobile remittances services to disrupt the industry and reach emerging consumers. 90% of WorldRemit’s customers use smartphones for their transactions. In fact, it has become the a key driver to owning a phone in the first place.

LeapFrog invested in WorldRemit in December 2017. The investment will support the company’s plans to reach 10 million customers connected to emerging markets by 2020. This will be achieved through expansion into new markets, continuing to deliver innovative products and services, and scaling the technology that underpins its mobile-first, digital model.

Stewart Langdon, Partner at LeapFrog Investments, adds: “This investment is an opportunity to bring a global leader in digital remittances into the LeapFrog portfolio. WorldRemit’s model is uniquely suited to scale and offers a best in class service that is vital to the livelihood of millions of consumers in LeapFrog’s core markets. The company also has a huge potential to expand globally – a combination that puts it at the heart of our profit with purpose philosophy. I’m delighted that a world-class fintech company like WorldRemit is choosing LeapFrog as its partner for growth in the emerging markets.”

NeoGrowth

With increasing bird feed costs, a sudden fall in prices of poultry products, and rapidly decreasing sales, demonetisation in India hit Shri Venkateshwara Poultry Farms hard, in the form of a severe cash crunch. With a timely loan from NeoGrowth – the Mumbai-based non-banking financial company (NFBC) and digital lending platform – the business was able to survive its most challenging moments.

Today, Shri Venkateshwara Poultry Farms employs over 100 villagers of whom 75 are women. All employees are insured and rewarded with bonuses. Food, accommodation and education are taken care of. According to owner Samarasimha, he has banks knocking at his door offering business loans, but like every three out of four NeoGrowth customers, he chooses to stay with the company for the trust it showed in him when other lenders turned their backs.

Traditional underwriting methods used by Indian banks exclude a large proportion of small and medium enterprises who lack the basic documentation required by banks and formal lending sources. Lack of access to finance is one of the biggest constraints to growth for these businesses. As a result, 80% are currently self-financed. 

NeoGrowth, established in 2013, is providing an alternative for many of these excluded organisations, and leading the charge towards more widespread financial inclusion. The company has pioneered a new category of lending for small and medium business owners based on analysing and underwriting digital payments data generated from daily sales. This approach revolutionises small business lending, making it possible for merchants to access a NeoGrowth loan. Flexible, small, daily automated repayments are one of the hallmarks of the business. 

Today the company provides loans for 7000 small and mid-sized companies. Smaller enterprises constitute 99% of all companies in India presenting a vast opportunity for NeoGrowth to scale by delivering widespread financial inclusion in the form of loans.

The company’s business model benefits from the Indian government’s demonetisation initiative which has boosted adoption of digital payment methods. Data from the Reserve Bank of India indicates that the value of point-of-sale transactions made monthly rose substantially to INR740bn in September 2017, equating to an 85% increase year-on-year.
 
“India is at an inflexion point as the rise of cashless financial services, harnessing big data, transforming the lives of millions of emerging consumers,” said Michael Fernandes, Partner, LeapFrog Investments. “NeoGrowth is at the forefront of this transformation. By providing loans to underserved merchants against their future digital sales, it unlocks credit that is tailored to their business requirements, which in turn inspires growth and job creation.”

Fincare

The Indian Government’s ambitious drive for financial inclusion was recently included in the Guinness Book of World Records for number of bank accounts opened in the shortest period of time. Yet universal inclusion still remains elusive with the World Bank estimating that to-date only six per cent of Indian adults over the age of 15 have borrowed from a financial institution.

According to India’s 2011 census, approximately 70 per cent of India’s population live in rural communities. Extending financial inclusion to this segment can truly make the difference for the lives of individuals and future prosperity of the country.

At the heart of the drive to extend the reach and access of financial tools is Fincare. As one of the largest and fastest-growing microfinance platforms in India, it currently provides financial services to over 5.8 million emerging consumers, the majority of whom are women in rural areas – both of which comprise two of the most underserved segments. The company has achieved a 79 per cent annual growth rate in its assets under management over the last three years, a testament to why Fincare sits firmly at the intersection of profit with purpose.

It is one of only ten institutions granted a small bank license by the Indian government, in 2017 the company launched its banking operations at over 25 locations with plans to increase the number to 500 by year end. These institutions guarantee at least 50 per cent of loan portfolios are comprised of loans and advances up to $37,500. Small finance banks can perform all the operations of normal commercial banks, but target a low-income segment providing access to smaller sums of credit and the ability to make deposits.

‘[The investment] will enable us to continue to build the infrastructure required to accelerate our growth, in line with our mission to facilitate a lifetime of progress at the base of the pyramid through financial and social inclusion,’ says Rajeev Yadav, Group CEO of Fincare.

With a deep history in financial inclusion in India gained through partnering with some of the country’s preeminent financial institutions, the LeapFrog team are set to back Fincare by helping the Company make history and an outsize contribution to India’s goal of universal financial inclusion.

Shriram

From a no-frills office behind one of the many bustling, palm-lined streets of Chennai, India’s jewel of the South, the Shriram Group began its story.

Founded in 1974, Shriram has grown to become one of India’s most respected and trusted business houses, serving the mass-market with essential services. It is a business that can convincingly claim that “the bottom of the pyramid is the top of our agenda” and has been for 40 years.

In 2011, LeapFrog invested in a Shriram subsidiary, Shriram CCL, a distribution group offering unique access to the consumer growth story across India.

Shriram stands out for its deep integrity, community-based business model, committed management team, and emphasis on the importance of long-term strategy over short-term wins. It’s there for the long haul. This is perhaps one reason it reaches 7 million people with insurance and savings today, of which 5 million are low income.

For many of its customers, Shriram CCL is also one of the first points of contact they have with the formal financial system. The company reaches people through a smart and low-cost distribution strategy, using large agency forces in local villages. It sells into traditional ‘Chit’ programs – or rotating credit and saving schemes – as well as direct to new customers in towns and villages across the country’s mind-stirring canvas.

Says G.S. Sundararajan, Managing Director of Shriram Capital, “Our strategic partnership with LeapFrog is redefining financial inclusion in India.”

In 2017, LeapFrog successfully exited its investment in Shriram CCL, after significant value-add and impact.

Magma Fincorp

Magma, a trusted Indian financial services group, helps its customers to “invest in even the smallest dream”. It is currently making more than 650,000 dreams come true across India.

The company reaches emerging consumers across rural and semi-urban India with vehicle finance, housing finance and general insurance. Led by an outstanding entrepreneurial team, Magma is delivering on its original vision: to bring financial services to the unbanked in some of India’s poorest regions. The majority of customers are experiencing formal financial services for the first time.

Rural India represents an enormous market opportunity with a population of over 850 million people, roughly two-thirds of the country’s total population. Two out of five rural households rely on informal credit sources or local money-lenders that often charge usurious interest rates. Within that market, the ‘self-employed’ borrower segment is highly attractive; this group of striving entrepreneurs has generally been overlooked by non-banking financial companies but represents an exciting business opportunity to serve pent-up demand with formal financial services..

Magma is well placed in the non-banking financial services market, with its robust rural distribution network and a large and loyal customer base.

Both LeapFrog and Magma see tremendous opportunity to drive value creation through operational improvements and expansion, in both the lending business and the insurance business. This includes areas such as distribution, product design, and health insurance.

Mahindra Insurance Brokers

Back in 2009, when the Mahindra Group invited LeapFrog to invest in its Mahindra Insurance subsidiary, it was for two principle reasons: the insurance expertise LeapFrog would bring, and the shared ethos of the two organisations. Mahindra’s “Rise” philosophy, focused on building prosperity and improving lives, chimed perfectly with LeapFrog’s Profit with Purpose investment philosophy.

As Anand Mahindra, the Chairman of Mahindra Group, and world-leading businessman, put it at the time, “This partnership is a perfect alignment between our philosophy of driving positive change and LeapFrog’s socially conscious investment strategy. Together we will provide financial services that protect and enable millions of people to secure their future.”

Insurance penetration among India’s vast population remains extremely low, at 3.4% for life insurance and 0.7% for general insurance, indicative of a tremendous opportunity for growth and impact.

Mahindra Insurance is a fast-growing, high-impact company providing life, motor and health insurance. With a wide reach across rural and semi-rural India, it has a footprint in over 170,000 of India’s 650,000 villages. Mahindra Insurance currently reaches 10 million people with insurance, including 6.5 million low income consumers. The company offers insurance products for as little as $1 per month. With over 850 million people living in rural India, this is still just the beginning.

LeapFrog’s insurance expertise in this market has proved important in areas such as product development, digital and mobile strategy and market research. In fact, the Mahindra-LeapFrog partnership began with a health insurance product which has reached 550,000 people via 110,000 low income policy holders.

LeapFrog successfully exited Mahindra to XL Group in 2017 after significant value-add and impact.

Northern Arc Capital (formerly IFMR Capital)

In India the formal financial services sector has made minuscule inroads into the potential market. Smaller enterprises constitute 99% of all companies and contribute to 30% of GDP, but they lack formal access to finance, with 80% currently self-financed.

A company that is challenging this status quo is LeapFrog investment Northern Arc Capital (formerly IFMR Capital) a non-banking finance corporation. Northern Arc is a dynamic link between debt capital markets and high-quality debt originators who are the last mile link to individuals and businesses that traditionally face challenges in access to finance.

Northern Arc provides efficient and reliable access to debt for such lenders across India, in turn enabling a steady supply of finance for financially excluded families and businesses.

Since inception in 2008, the company has partnered with more than 140 institutions to impact the lives of over 33 million customers across 29 states and 540 districts across of India. The company has enabled debt financing of USD 7 billion across sectors like microfinance, small business loans, affordable housing finance, vehicle finance and agri-finance. It has structured and executed over 400 transactions which have been placed with over 120 investors.

Northern Arc uses a variety of structures to provide financing to its clients, including direct loans, securitization, guarantees, arrangement and placement of commercial paper, bonds, debentures, and other capital markets products. It invests in the debt of its originators ensuring skin-in-the-game. Northern Arc developed and launched the world’s first Multi-Originator Securitization for micro-loans and listed India’s first securitised debt instruments on the BSE. It recently introduced a fund advisory and management platform and India’s first rated (AA) financial inclusion debt fund as a Category I AIF, backed by leading insurance companies, a bank and private wealth investors.

Northern Arc also provides rating enhancement advisory services and helps originators to build better operations, oversight and customer protection. The result? End-borrowers receive quality products and services, providing the very foundation of trust.

This trust works its way back into the capital markets. Northern Arc’s robust risk management systems at the grass roots ensure strong risk-adjusted returns for investors, and an A+ credit rating for the entity.

Northern Arc Capital CEO Kshama Fernandes speaking about the reach and impact of Northern Arc, says “Northern Arc stands for access, change, freedom, growth and prosperity for all. We are the frontier that spans across the world of finance – from those who have little or no access to finance to those who have it in abundance.”

BIMA

BIMA is the global leader in providing insurance through mobile technology. The business provides insurance distribution and underwriting to millions of low income people via highly innovative partnerships with major mobile network operators and financial services businesses. In the past, the traditional insurance industry has struggled to reach this vast market.

In just five years, BIMA has over 32 million subscribers in 14 countries, of which approximately 9 million people are reached with insurance products. BIMA’s customer research shows that 75% of their customers did not have access to insurance before. Globally, approximately 40% of customers are rural. In Ghana and Bangladesh, BIMA has doubled insurance penetration.

The business offers a range of affordable life, personal accident and health insurance products for low-income consumers. Since investing, LeapFrog has been instrumental in developing the company’s strategy in areas as diverse as product development, distribution, reinsurance and branding.

BIMA UG agents registering cutsomers-2

BIMA CEO Gustaf Agartson says, “We’re proud of our success so far, but really we believe we’re just at the start of this journey. Mobile technology has the power to transform people’s lives.”

LeapFrog sold a major stake in BIMA as part of a $96.6m investment by Allianz X, the digital investment unit of Allianz Group, the global insurer and asset manager in 2017.