India is leading the way for fintech in the world. While many startups are looking to reinvent this industry, Protium is winning big by implementing the old school methods with a tech first approach. They have achieved a loan book of INR 3500 crores within two years of launch and are already powering small businesses across the country. Amit Garg, Partner at Protium talks to us about the company and their refreshing approach to fintech.
Q1) Tell us about Protium and how has it contributed to the lending paradigm of India?
We launched Protium in 2019 with the ideology of transformative financing solutions to fuel the ambitions of new India. Headquartered in Mumbai, Protium is an eminent engineering-driven lending company with an eye for risk management. We strive to financially empower small and medium-scale businesses as well as aspiring individuals who need convenient loans. We are a full stack lender with a presence across India. We operate under the proprietary titles of Protium Finance, Protium Money & Protium Sakshara which lend to MSMEs, consumers and educational institutions. We strongly believe in incorporating our well-devised fiscal models to assess revenue to equip our customers with the best financial solutions. We ardently serve our customers through diverse channels including digital interfaces, platform-based partnerships, dedicated sales teams and DSAs (Direct Selling Agents).
Ever since its inception, Protium has imparted the best financial solutions to aspiring entrepreneurs and individuals. As a technology-driven lending firm, Protium serves financial solutions for both secured and unsecured loans. To encourage budding enterprises, we process loan tickets that range from INR 1 Lakh to INR 5 Crore for the thriving small businesses in tier 1, 2 and 3 cities. We duly realise and acknowledge the significance of small and medium-scale businesses in the progression of the Indian economy. Hence, Protium Finance offers secured and unsecured loans to MSMEs anywhere in India. With our brand purpose of strengthening the digital lending scenario across India, we facilitate the required capital and flexibility for small enterprises and entrepreneurs to pivot and scale their enterprises.
Q2) What does the brand name ‘Protium’ signify?
We wanted to title our brand with a unique name which could portray our ideology, purpose, and vision proficiently. In the scientific context, Protium is the most stable isotope of the element, Hydrogen, a basic building block of all matter, and the most elementary unit of the universe. Interestingly, Hydrogen is also a key component in the chemical makeup of fuel, both literally and conceptually. The universal appeal of significance resonates well with our brand ideology of serving everyone with effective monetary solutions. As a company, we strongly identify with what Protium implies which is to build a strong and stable foundation, fueling the ambitions of aspiring businesses and individuals across India by leveraging state-of-the-art technology and data analytics to engineer fast, efficient, and convenient financial solutions. We believe in finding engineering driven solutions to the most fundamental financing problems in India. Thus, we aptly named our brand ‘Protium’ for all the imperative qualities it exudes.
Q3) What are the salient products or services that Protium provides?
At Protium, we have devised exclusive and inclusive financial services to diligently serve all ambitious individuals, institutions and small to medium-scale enterprises. We have always endeavored to impart hassle-free loans to individuals who are not yet part of the formal banking system. Our technology-driven loan services impart plans like MSME/Business plan finance where we provide unsecured business loans up to INR 30 Lakhs to Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises swiftly through an integrated and easy online application process. We process the loans with nominal documentation required and our customers receive persistent support from our dedicated finance team. Consumer Finance is another category of our services where with Protium Money, our customers can enjoy easy and accessible credit. Consumer finance facilitates the convenience of affordable shopping anywhere for our customers.
To encourage investments in the educational field, we service Education Institutional Finance where we empower academic institutions like schools, colleges etc. by providing them easy capital loans. Institutions can get the loan schemes customised to cater for their financial goals better. The education institutional finance is Protium’s brand initiative to contribute to the academic progression in India. To fuel the ambitions of aspiring entrepreneurs, we facilitate machinery and equipment finance for small and medium-scale enterprises. Under the mentioned scheme, Protium funds up to 80% of the costs on the loan ticket size varying from INR 10 Lakhs to INR 3 Cr. The machinery and equipment finance plan ensures convenient procurement of appropriate machinery to the entrepreneurs. I am delighted to state that with its impeccable financial plans, Protium has realised the dreams of many institutions, enterprises, and individuals across India by empowering them financially.
Q4) What is the current size of Protium? Tell us about the brand expansion plans?
It brings me immense joy to say that ever since its launch in 2019, Protium has thrived as an engineering-driven lending firm in India. We closed our initial capital round at INR 1,260 Crore (USD$ 170 MN) coming from the founder and a few marquee partners making it the largest greenfield launch in the last several years. Our zeal to render easy lending services to the underserved masses in tier 2 and tier 3 cities across the nation has added to our geographical footprint. At present, Protium has 1900+ employees in over 80 branches spread across 60 cities in India. To date, we serviced more than 5 lakh customers and have disbursed the loans amounting to over INR 3,500 Crore. We are committed to our mission of serving the masses across India who are not part of the formal financial paradigm. We anticipate registering our physical presence in over 300 cities nationwide. We look forward to serving our customers with powerful and efficient financing solutions to materialise their ambitions.
Q5) What is the importance of small and medium-scale businesses in the Indian economy?
In my humble opinion, small and medium-scale enterprises form an integral and imperative part of the Indian economy. India is classed as a mixed economy where both public and private sectors co-exist successfully. In recent years, small and medium-scale industries have thrived drastically thereby registering their prominent contribution to the nation’s economy. The MSME sector accounts for more than 27% of GDP and is crucial to the functioning of the economy, including in terms of employment generation, exports, and lending opportunities. As per ASSOCHAM (Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India), the segment of small and medium-scale industries in India is estimated to have more than 6.3 crore units which generate employment avenues for over 11.10 crore people. In recent years, MSMEs have contributed approximately to the 50% share in exports too.
It is noteworthy that small and medium-scale businesses play a vital role in the elimination of poverty and pollution too by providing employment and sourcing raw materials locally. MSMEs also promote the artistry of the local artisans which is a gesture of great encouragement. It can be rightly concluded that the progression of small and medium-scale industries is indispensable for the persistent growth of the Indian economy. I am pleased to say that Protium as an engineering-driven lending firm is diligently empowering the MSME sector across the nation by providing quick, efficient, and convenient financing solutions.