Traditionally, when individuals needed a loan, they turned to banks or non-bank financial institutions (NBFCs). There they would be required to produce a plethora of official documents for verification after which the loan application would take weeks and in some cases months to get approved and for the loan amount to reach the client’s account. However, the low-income segment of society faces several obstacles, even at the level of demand.
They tend to turn to informal sources such as pawn shops, as most formal institutions deny them access to credit for various reasons, including their own standards of lending to people in a certain income category. . As a result, people belonging to the low-income segment often fall into the debt trap due to the unreasonably high interest rates charged by informal sources of credit. To solve this problem, Upwards, a one-stop solution for all wellness credit needs, especially for low-income segments of society who cannot get credit from formal financial institutions, was founded.
Identifying and resolving the problem
At PAN India level, access to credit remains a challenge. As mentioned earlier, formal financial institutions tend to prefer the crème de la crème of society i.e. the upper middle class and the wealthy segment when it comes to sanctioning loans. However, at least 60% of India falls into the low income category which makes it difficult to get loans from banks / NBFCs. At a broader level, much of India remains unexplored when it comes to access to credit.
Today, with rapid digitization, the increased proliferation of the Internet and the use of smartphones, there is a vast digital footprint available for every individual. In the past, people received their wages in cash and most of the population did not have a bank account. Now, with the increase in financial inclusion and the payment of wages into bank accounts, credit history is recorded systematically, making it easier for NBFCs to extract an individual’s credit history data. to decide on its solvency.
Founded in 2017, Upwards tackles the problem of lack of access to credit in a structured way. Offering quick loans worth up to INR 2.5 lakhs, Upwards sanctions them within 24 hours to salaried people across India. NBFC registered by RBI, the platform has a wider geographic reach with a fully digital application and approval process.
The journey to the top
Abhishek Soni and Nimesh Verma Upwards’ magnum opus was founded to present user-friendly ways to instill financial well-being and access to credit across the country. Having
Realizing that there is a lot of data available to analyze and assess credit requirements and creditworthiness, Abhishek and Nimesh, both graduates from IIT and Delhi, have worked with notable organizations and started their own businesses, have decided to start Upwards.
Abhishek, currently CEO and co-founder of Upwards, holds a dual degree including B.Tech and M.Tech in chemical engineering and is a CFA level 2 candidate specializing in finance. A seasoned business professional, Abhishek has held leadership positions in organizations such as PwC, The Parthenon Group and Indifi. He also successfully started and left his previous social commerce business.
Nimesh, currently Chief Technology Officer (CTO) and co-founder of Upwards, holds an integrated M.Tech in Mathematics and Computer Science. An expert technician, Nimesh has been associated with global organizations such as LinkedIn, Housing.com and Craftsvilla, in addition to starting his own businesses.
Having disbursed loans worth over 250 Cr INR since its inception, Upwards meets a wide range of credit requirements – be it a school, medical, down payment vehicle, purchases or salary advances. In addition, the booming platform services also extend to salaried people from day one of joining an organization and help companies by removing the responsibility of extending advances, freezing working capital. and change wages. With a current team of nearly 70 professionals in various departments including credit collection, technology, finance, operations and customer support, Upwards is headquartered in Mumbai and has operations in over 50 cities.
However, no business comes without its fair share of challenges, as they come in different sizes every day and are an integral part of any entrepreneurial journey. As Abhishek and Nimesh both came from non-financial backgrounds, gaining a deep understanding of how the lending segment works at the operational level came after extensive research, work and daily learning. Understanding the nuances of lending and the financial sector as a whole has posed a challenge. But having digital expertise and the ability to analyze and understand data and constantly iterate based on learnings has proven to be helpful. Over time, the two founders began to establish themselves firmly in the field and innovative solutions followed.
Funding and the future
Started as a seeded startup, Upwards closed its seed funding at the idea level, then increased the Series A round in late 2018 with the support of renowned investors such as Shunwei Capital, India Quotient and Mayfield Fund. . So far, the platform has raised a total of $ 5 million and plans to raise funds later this year. The company aims for a monthly growth rate of 20-30% and seeks to grow 3-5 times year over year. Thanks to his
technology-based services, Upwards aims to penetrate India’s underserved population and make access to credit no longer a pipe dream for them.
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