Proparco made its first equity investment in SONATA in 2016 and subsequently made an additional investment of EUR 2.5m in 2018, in the form of mandatory convertible preference shares, in order to strengthen the institution’s equity.
SONATA is a microfinance institution (MFI) based in Uttar Pradesh, the most populous State in India and where there are also some of the poorest people in the country. SONATA was set up in 2006 by Mr. Anup Kumar Singh (CEO), who has almost 20 years' experience in the microfinance sector. It is today firmly established in rural and semi-urban areas in 8 States in North-East India, where there is a low level of financial inclusion. The MFI is specialized in solidarity loans to women and benefits from an excellent knowledge of its market segment, with a strong capacity to innovate in order to fulfill its social mission. As of March 2018 (month for the closing of accounts in India), SONATA was serving some 700,000 clients via a network of 425 branches, with a loan portfolio of EUR 165m.
Proparco’s equity stake stands at 12.1% of SONATA’s capital.
The SONATA project will mainly contribute to improving access to credit for disadvantaged populations in India, where the rate of access to banking services is only 53%. As a shareholder, Proparco is contributing to strengthening the economic and financial sustainability of the MFI. This will allow the institution to pursue its objective of offering microloans to economically vulnerable Indian women living in rural areas. 80% of the institution’s clients currently live on less than USD 1.25 a day, 75% live in rural areas and the average loan amount is relatively low, as it stands at approximately EUR 236.