Kshama Fernandes

IFMR Capital

Kshama Fernandes is one of India’s outstanding young business leaders. As CEO of Northern Arc Capital (formerly IFMR Capital), she is leading a company that is transforming the very fabric of finance in India.

At face value, Northern Arc Capital is a non-banking finance corporation.  Remarkably, it is linking debt capital investors and debt originators who reach the emerging, low-income business owner and consumer. Essentially, IFMR Capital enables lenders in remote areas of India to increase lending volumes and lower the cost of borrowing for financially excluded families and businesses.

By using sophisticated risk management tools, Northern Arc Capital is transforming the lives of ordinary people across the sub-continent. Founded only 8 years ago, the company is already influencing the lives of over 15 million individuals.

Kshama likes to refer to Northern Arc Capital as a “movement”: “When I think of our progress, I’m reminded of the black and white pictures one sees in museums and in history books of Gandhiji’s ‘salt yatra’.  Hordes and hordes of people walking towards a single destination, a little like ants emerging from all directions in search of the single grain of sugar lying on the road. Imagine Gujarat over half a century ago: large groups of people emerging from nooks and crannies of the country, all walking towards the same destination to be part of the Dandi march. A simple act of lifting a handful of salt eventually snowballed into something that gave this country its freedom.”

Kshama’s influence on the industry is profound. She was responsible for structuring the first Multi-Origination Securitisation in 2010, a structure that has now become mainstream, not just in microfinance but across asset classes in India. Before joining IFMR Trust, she was the Head of the Finance faculty at the Goa Institute of Management. She has also been a driving force in committees set up by the Government of India related to the development of capital markets and the advancement of financial inclusion.