Wednesday, December 2, 2009

SAIJA: Technically the first commercial MFI of Bihar origin

Saija Finance Private Limited is a Non Banking Finance Company (NBFC) formed in April 2008 with a focus on providing microfinance services for the urban and rural poor, as well as micro and small businessmen in the underserved geographies of Northern India – Bihar, Jharkhand, Delhi, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and parts of Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh. SAIJA has an aggressive expansion plan aiming to reach over 60,000 clients by year three and around 2.50 lakhs by year five. The geographic regions served by SAIJA are amongst the poorest areas of India and also are grossly underserved by formal financial institutions. As such, SAIJA is uniquely positioned to bring organized financial services to a large number of poor clients who otherwise would not have access to credit and other financial services on attractive terms. This also presents an appealing business opportunity.SAIJA started with a small portfolio of micro loans, taken over from its associate non-profit entity, Saija Vikas, which was registered as a society in July 2007 under the Societies Registration Act No. 21 of 1860. The company started in July 2007 with a market research survey interviewing 1500 clients in the Patna slums regarding their socio-economic conditions, prevailing economic activities and current access to financial products. The name Saija has been coined from “Sai” of Sai Baba of Shiridi, an Indian saint, while “Ja” has been taken from the holy shrine of Ajmer Sharif which is the tomb of Hazrat Mu'inuddin Chishti, the founder of the Sufi order. The companies and businesses set up by them earlier were also named Saija. Mr. Sinha, the founder, has a hugely successful track record and a wealth of experience in banking, housing finance and insurance while Mrs. Sinha, the co-founder, has over 25 years experience in the human resources field. Saija is a young MFI having begun operations in its pilot branch in November 2007. It is looking to build robust systems and processes for the remainder of this fiscal year before its projected exponential growth next year.

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