Just completing my second week at Kinara Capital, an Indian NBFC (non-bank financial company) and beginning the process of finding some promising entrepreneurs here in Bangalore. I am lucky to be working with a really great team here. Hardika, Thiru, Rogin, as well as Brendan Koch here from the Unitas fund in Salt Lake City have not only all been great to get to know, it’s also amazing what they have accomplished here! We are now working hard on developing some good banking relationships and I should begin serious discussions with bankers soon. I like to get to know a business from the ground up and was immediately interested in getting out to the field and meeting some of the people that Kinara is helping with small business loans. Interesting to me, it’s not that simple. In many developing countries and maybe India in particular, markets have become distorted by well-intentioned philanthropy. When borrowers see westerners associated with any type of microfinance company they expect interest rates to be subsidized. Kinara’s business model is to offer loans to businesses that have no access to reasonably priced capital. However we need to make a profit in order to scale the business. I am still looking forward to getting to out to the field, but we’ll need to find the right venue.
The process of frontier market scouting for promising entrepreneurs is going to be really interesting. Kim is definitely my most valuable resource and has connected me with several people she met through the Overseas Women’s Club here. Scouting is a great way to meet people and it is surprising here how many people have ideas and an entrepreneurial spirit. I feel pretty sure that we will be able to identify enough solid ideas that Village Capital will be able to run a program here in 2013 and fund one of them.
The transition to India has been eye opening for Kim and I. What has exceeded my expectation are the people! People here are wonderful. Everyone has been friendly and helpful (except the rickshaw drivers). The most daunting thing here is undoubtedly the traffic. Wow! It took me almost 10 minutes to cross the street on my way to work today and when I finally (and barely) got to the other side, I felt like I should go to church (or have a drink). The key to walking safely in India is: 1) trust no driver , when it gets backed up motorcycles take to the sidewalks. Signals and traffic cops are often ignored 2) use vehicles going the same direction as you are as a blockade against the cross traffic.
We have now moved three times since arriving in Bangalore and have finally found a wonderful spot in a quiet neighborhood at a reasonable price. (See the photo above) It is difficult to find anywhere here that does not require a 12 month lease and we were very fortunate to find this one. We have a small rooftop apartment ( 3rd floor) and best of all a large outside area where you can see the sky and birds……important to us who are used to the wide open spaces of New Mexico!