Smile Microfinance Ltd, a Chennai-based microfinance institution (MFI), is raising Rs 50 crore from Developing World Markets (DWM), a US-based fund manager. Smile has so far invested over Rs 577 crore, and claims a recovery rate of 99% across investments, said a company statement. 

This is the maiden equity investment of DWM in an Indian MFI, the statement added. The investment was made through DWM Microfinance Equity Fund, a $82-million fund managed by DWM. Grameen Capital India has acted as advisor to Smile in this transaction. 

Smile has started its operation in 2004 and has reached three lakh household in the last five years. It currently has 95 branches across 12 districts in Tamil Nadu. It plans to reach out to 2.5 million customers over the next five years, with a total capital of over Rs 1,500 crore.

N Sethuraman, chairman, Smile, said, in the statement, “the transaction is a strong demonstration of confidence in the ability of our management team to be able to execute the goals we have set for the business.”

Bradley Swanson, partner at DWM commented, in the statement, “Smile offers us the perfect opportunity to build on our global strategy of partnering with socially-committed MFIs.”

DWM is an asset manager and investment bank dedicated to making socially positive investments to promote sustainable economic development. It provides both debt and equity investmenst in MFIs and other socially motivated organizations. It currently has $600 million assets under management, and has invested in over 100 microfinance institutions in over 30 countries globally.

Some other Indian MFIs which have raised funding in the last few months include Grameen Koota, Asirvad and Grama Vidiyal Micro Finance Ltd.

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