Avail Finance appoints Alexander John as chief business officer, beefs up top management
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Private equity-backed Avail Finance, which offers loans to blue-collar workers, has announced the appointment of industry veteran Alexander John as its chief business officer (CBO), effective this month, the company said in a statement on Thursday.   

The appointment comes amid a series of new senior-level appointments this year as part of the company’s core leadership team. It plans to grow its technology, product and business talent pools by 2x in the next six to eight months, the statement said.  

With over 24 years of experience, John has held a number of senior leadership roles spanning business, risk and strategy across the banking and ITeS spectrum. “His vast experience will help Avail Finance build business volumes and increase profitability while balancing risk and reward,” the statement said. In his previous role, he was the chief risk officer in Avanti Financial Services, a fintech founded by industrialist Ratan Tata and IT veteran Nandan Nilekani.  

Prior to Avanti, John was business head in the micro and small business (MSME) lending segment at Jana Small Finance Bank, which he quit in April 2020. John is a physics graduate from Delhi's St. Stephens College and a post graduate from Institute of Management Technology, Ghaziabad. 

Avail Finance, which counts Falcon Edge, Ola and Matrix Partners as its backers, has acquired YeLo, a neobank operating in the same segment, and is also seeking the regulator’s nod to purchase non-bank lender Art Climate Finance (India) Pvt. Ltd, Mint reported this week.  

“Neo banks are the future of the finance industry and with the nature of the audience that Avail Finance services, there is massive potential of growth for the brand. Avail has become a trusted name in a very short time, and I look forward to growing business volumes and increasing profitability,” John said after his appointment. 

New team 

In the past year, Avail Finance has also onboarded three other industry executives, including Anujeet Kudva as chief risk officer (CRO), Gaurav Sehgal as chief financial officer (CFO) and Som Dutta as chief data scientist.  

Kudva, who came aboard in February, is an alumnus of North Western University. He has 20 years of experience in risk management, credit underwriting, collections and developing lending models working with IIFL, Edelweiss and PwC in his previous stints.  

Sehgal will be leading the finance, legal and secretarial function, involving stakeholder management with investors among other responsibilities. He joined the company in August, and brings to the table over 16 years of experience in the financial services sector, having worked with firms such as Deloitte and UK-based OakNorth Bank.  

Meanwhile, Dutta, who joined in June, has graduated with a Ph.D in theoretical physics from the University of Rochester in New York, and worked with Resonance Data Management, IDfy, Lightbox Ventures and Looksie. 

“The above key hires form Avail’s core leadership team, and will help it grow in scale — all towards realising the company’s mission of creating a holistic financial platform with customised products for different segments of Indian consumers,” the company said in the release.  

“Avail is aggressively building up its leadership team with a good mix across MNCs and fast paced startups, as it embarks on its journey. The idea is to have a strong talent pool of problem solvers, who bring to the table a strategic mindset,” it added.  

Avail Finance is backed by investors such as Matrix Partners, and other prominent entrepreneurs like Binny Bansal, co-founder of Flipkart; Kunal Shah, Founder of Cred; and Manish Patel, founder and CEO of Mswipe, among others.

In May this year, Avail Finance had raised Rs 24 crore ($3.24 million) from venture debt firm Alteria Capital.    

This financial year so far, the digital lender that offers collateral-free personal loans will focus on diversifying its product portfolio, co-founder and CEO Ankush Aggarwal had said.

Avail Finance, founded by Aggarwal and Tushar Mehndiratta in February 2017, serves blue-collared workers with small loans.   

With the use of technology, the fintech player offers products such as personal loans, salary advances and savings that are customised to their target segment to help its users to be financially included and independent.  Avail Finance had applied for an NBFC (non-banking financial company) licence through its subsidiary, AF Capital Pvt. Ltd, in 2019. However, this was rejected by the central bank.

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