Belstar Investment and Finance Pvt Ltd, a Chennai-based microfinance firm, is planning to raise a venture capital round of $3.6 million (Rs 17.5 crore). The firm has started discussions with investors and International Finance Corp (IFC), the private investment arm of the World Bank, will start due diligence on the firm soon, VCCircle has learned. Belstar could also look at more investors.

IFC has placed quite a few bets on India's microfinance industry. It was recently looking to invest in the $50 million PE round of Share Microfin Ltd. Other MFIs backed by the fund in India include Bhartiya Samruddhi Finance Ltd and Asomi Finance Ltd. It has also backed several MFI focused funds like Aaviskaar Goodwell and Lok Capital, besides making direct investments in the sector.

Belstar is the microfinance arm of Hand in Hand (HIH), a non-governmental organisation (NGO). Through Belstar, HIH plans to expand into a for profit MFI. The firm would initially look at expansion in Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Pondicherry with a subsequent expansion into Madhya Pradesh, areas where HIH is also active. Belstar is registered as a non-banking finance company (NBFC).

Belstar aims to provide access to finance to more than 300,000 women and also support self help groups. Dr Kalpana Sankar, who is the managing trustee of HIH, is one of the major shareholder of Belstar. Other main shareholders of the firm include Sarvam Mutual Benefit Trust and KPM Private Mutual Benefit Trust.


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