Artoo | MSME Focus
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Why focus on Small Businesses?

Small entrepreneurs have big dreams. We have the technology to make those happen.

Small Business Lending

There is a gap between microfinance institutions, who do group lending to women at the Bottom of the Pyramid, and traditional banks, who lend to corporates or make personal loans to retail customers. The ‘missing middle’ i.e. lending to small enterprises, shows the greatest potential in the market today, and is where the greatest challenges lie.

Within the informal financial services sector, Artoo has taken a conscious and considered decision to focus exclusively on lenders targeting small businesses i.e. ‘the Missing Middle’, which is estimated to be annually a three trillion dollar funding gap between microfinance institutions and traditional banks.

Not only does this segment show the greatest potential, but it is the niche where the customer’s reason to buy is the most compelling, and Artoo is in the best position to add the greatest value.

Artoo’s Solution

Artoo’s product deck, with its high technology entwined with a human touch, is made to fit this segment like a glove. Our research into the small business lenders and borrowers, has allowed us to create flexible systems with minimal risks.

This is the segment in which the undocumented (self reported), irregular income of the borrower requires data-driven credit underwriting and thus digitalization at the source is critical. Artoo has specifically designed credit tools for informal income assessment, such as cashflow analysis,

Identifying and converting viable small business borrowers are real challenges. An important category of loans in this space is backed by collateral such as land, building, or machinery. The process of underwriting includes valuation of the collateral and legal checks on the title deed, which are often very cumbersome and a leading cause of rejection. Artoo integrates with third party vendors to simplify and expedite this process as well.

Artoo has specifically designed credit tools for informal income assessment, such as cashflow analysis, etc.

We are determined to become a specialist in this segment, to concentrate all our resources on it, thus building deep expertise that others will find difficult to replicate.

Helping the Real Heroes

A qualitative dimension of this segment is that it consists of those individuals, who when they receive a bit of a leg up, truly pick themselves up and take responsibility for their own lives.

We salute those heroic individuals who either out of choice or necessity, do not take the easy option: they do not waste their time rioting for quotas for jobs, but decide to take the road less travelled: they start an enterprise. This is the vital sector which accounts for the largest and fastest growing part of our GDP and the largest employment. It represents the one truly positive, constructive energy in the national economy and Artoo considers it a privilege to serve these small business people.

If we stop thinking of the poor as victims or as a burden and start recognising them as resilient and creative entrepreneurs and value-conscious consumers, a whole new world of opportunity will open up.
-The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid by C.K. Prahalad.

We love small entrepreneurs and admire their heroic efforts to transform their lives on their own initiatives. We are doing everything in our power to enable them.

Building an Online Community

Artoo’s constant challenge is how to make lives better in this field. We intend to create a platform for lenders, field officers and borrowers to interact with each other and which we hope will lower barriers, aid in communication and soon be adopted to help each other out with real issues.

We wish our field officers to grow to see this online community as their own, only minimally moderated by Artoo.

Artoo is working on building online communities of both field officers and borrowers so that they learn from each other and help us improve our product as well, on an ongoing basis. It is the ‘Social’ element of our SMAC stack. We would like the benefit to field agents and borrowers to extend beyond the one-to-one relationship with Artoo.

We wish our field officers to grow to see this online community as their own, only minimally moderated by Artoo. We have seen what field officers’ lives are like, what their issues are, where their pain points are, what their relationships are like…and out of this, we are building a robust network, cementing bonds, addressing very real issues. We hope to plant seeds that will grow into interesting conversation threads in the community. As the pillar of support, our main question will always be:, “What can Artoo do to make your life better?”

Over time, we hope borrowers will become a part of our online community, as well. Artoo wishes to be an anchor, providing our most passionate and talented users with a platform on which they can continuously converse about their lives and work, learn from each other and even help us improve our offering. It could become a living collection of heroic stories from the field of people doing well, while preserving their humanity and dignity:. A source of inspiration for Artoo and so many others.

Our Cause

An entrepreneur at the very bottom of the pyramid, is someone with an idea, someone who believes that something can be done better.

Artoo believes in the small entrepreneurs. We love them, admire them, and, most importantly, we trust them.

An entrepreneur at the very bottom of the pyramid, is someone with an idea, someone who believes that something can be done better. Our deepest wish is to give this person the opportunity he or she needs, in order to see this idea fructify.

It is entrepreneurs, we believe, who form the basis of the free market. It is the SME sector, not India Inc, which is the most powerful segment within India’s GDP. And for every small entrepreneur who employs another one person or ten, we see millions of jobs created.

Empowering the Entrepreneur

Artoo resonates deeply with the entrepreneur mindset. The tools and techniques we plan to equip them with, are many. From a tutorial class on how to become an entrepreneur to inputs on how to file tax returns. We have seen every aspect of the smallest entrepreneur’s life, his relationships, his challenges – and we will engage with every facet of his life. We will also celebrate those who come from the most marginalized backgrounds.

The Artoo ‘Entrepreneur of the Year’ award will go to deserving women entrepreneurs, minority entrepreneurs, dalit entrepreneurs, tribal entrepreneurs, and others among the most marginalized. Among other acknowledgments, are awards for field agents who have a powerful positive impact on borrowers.

It is around these people that Artoo has built our cause. Despite their odds of low literacy and poverty, we believe that small entrepreneurs can adopt technology, in fact are tech-hungry and take readily to the digitization of field processes, using them to empower themselves. We consider it a privilege to serve this community and draw inspiration from their countless heroic stories.