An exclusive interview with Neha Juneja, CEO of IndiaP2P, a Fintech Company Empowering Women Borrowers
We are honored to have Neha Juneja, a visionary leader and the CEO of IndiaP2P, join us for this insightful interview. Neha is at the forefront of driving change in the fintech industry, particularly in empowering women borrowers.
Under her leadership, IndiaP2P has been a trailblazer, revolutionizing the way financial services are delivered and ensuring greater financial inclusion for women. With a passion for leveraging technology to address social challenges, Neha’s journey is an inspiring narrative that sheds light on the transformative power of fintech in fostering economic empowerment and gender equality.
Can you tell us a bit about yourself and what inspired you to start IndiaP2P?
Neha Juneja: For over a decade before starting IndiaP2P, my cofounders and I worked in microfinance lending and allied services. By microfinance we imply collateral-free loans given to rural/semi-urban women and small business owners typically for income generating purposes. The sector’s genesis can be attributed to the women’s self-help-group model.
Witnessing the evolution, rapid growth and the impact of microfinance was inspiring for us. Over the years, microfinance has grown to over 100Million borrowers, a significant majority of them being women and has shown some of the lowest default rates.
Microfinance is arguably India’s best asset class if you see the success lenders in this category have achieved. Many of these lenders have gone on to become banks. And while institutional debt investors have enjoyed good returns investing in this asset class, it has not been accessible to retail investors.
Additionally, we believe that like most sectors, this sector too can benefit greatly from technology adoption. It is precisely these issues that IndiaP2P solves for – making the microfinance value chain efficient with technology i.e. unlocking higher returns and enabling access for retail investors.
How does IndiaP2P differentiate itself from other fintech companies in the market?
Neha Juneja: We are perhaps the only end-to-end technology platform that creates private debt investment products out of the microfinance asset class.
IndiaP2P’s technology stack is akin to a new operating system for this segment and we aim to generate significant efficiencies in the value chain to deliver benefits to all stakeholders.
In what ways has IndiaP2P contributed to improving financial inclusion for women in India?
Neha Juneja: Our thesis is that women, small business owners are the best borrowers. They are prudent and responsible in their financial dealings and create a multi-fold impact on their families and communities with their incomes.
With IndiaP2P, we unlock capital from new sources that is being invested in women-owned small businesses, closing the credit-gap that this segment faces. Today, over 300,000 women have been reached out by our field network.
What challenges did you face in establishing IndiaP2P, especially in the context of empowering women borrowers?
Neha Juneja: Microfinance is a new asset class for retail investors. We have had to invest a lot of effort in investor education regarding the nuances and risks of investing in microfinance borrowers.
Gender roles perception is a major challenge. While investors are well-intentioned and positive, they have not been exposed to this movement (microfinance) of millions of women in rural areas and small towns taking loans to expand their businesses. As a result, many take some time to believe that this is indeed a great asset class to invest in for returns and purpose.
Have there been any noteworthy collaborations or partnerships that have helped IndiaP2P in achieving its goals?
Neha Juneja: Financial services in India by design rely on multiple collaborations and networks to operate and succeed. IndiaP2P is no different. We are an RBI regulated platform and to reach out to borrowers, we collaborate with multiple community based organisations with deep presence in our areas of operations.
What are the future plans for IndiaP2P, especially in terms of expanding your reach and impact?
Neha Juneja: We have seen very good product market fit on the investor side and our near term priority remains to expand into newer areas to source borrowers. It may be noted that at IndiaP2P, while we have a completely digital process, we do meet 100% of our borrowers in person prior to sanctioning their loans.
This physical verification and meeting constitutes a stronger diligence and a productive discussion on credit for business growth with the borrowers.
Based on your experiences, what advice would you give to aspiring entrepreneurs, especially those looking to make a positive impact in the fintech sector?
Neha Juneja: Fintech and financial services in general are a vast ecosystem with deep sectoral pockets. My advice is that entrepreneurs must focus their products or services on specific user needs or sub-sectors as opposed to a wider need base that used to be the case with traditional financial services models.
Another important aspect to consider in the design of any business model is regulation. Financial services including fintech come under a myriad of regulations. To entrepreneurs, sometimes an opportunity in an area with unclear or absent regulation may seem exciting but it comes with great risk which should not be ignored.
What are your success tips for women entrepreneurs?
Neha Juneja: I have to admit that women entrepreneurs face additional hurdles and challenges especially when it comes to fundraising. These challenges are purely on account of prevalent biases. My only tip is that women must talk about and promote their work more as active messaging has the power to fight biases.
As we conclude this interview with Neha Juneja, CEO of IndiaP2P, it becomes evident that her commitment to empowering women borrowers through innovative fintech solutions is both inspiring and impactful.
Her strategic vision for IndiaP2P reflects not only a keen understanding of the financial landscape but also a deep sense of social responsibility. Neha’s endeavors serve as a beacon in the fintech industry, showcasing the potential for technology to bridge financial gaps and uplift communities.
We extend our gratitude to Neha for sharing her insights, and we look forward to witnessing the continued success and positive impact of IndiaP2P under her visionary leadership.
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