How Vineet Rai Has Made Microfinance Advisory Intellecap into a Rs 30 Crore Venture
Wednesday, November 23, 2011
Age at starting business: 30 years
Company name: Intellecap
Seed capital: Rs 1 lakh
Source of money: Parents-in-law, personal savings
Turnover after first year: Rs 12 lakh
Turnover in 2010-11: Rs 30 crore
In a country where advice is abundant and free, making a career out of it may seem like a risky proposition. Fortunately for me, the gamble paid off. My microfinance advisory, Intellecap, has generated a turnover of Rs 30 crore this year. The journey, however, hasn’t been easy.
Born in a middle class family in Uttar Pradesh, I graduated from the Indian Institute of Forest Management (IIFM), Bhopal, in 1994 and was picked up by the Ballarpur Paper Mills at Boinda in Orissa. I was responsible for the distribution of raw material (wood/ bamboo) used in making paper.
After three years in the paper industry, I moved to IIM Ahmedabad in 1997 to work on the research for the Biological Diversity Act of 2002. My job was to engage with a panel of experts, which would advise the government on the access and beneficiary methods related to the Act.
A year into this, the Gujarat government approached me to take charge of the Gujarat Grassroots Innovations Augmentation Network (GIAN), an incubator for grassroot rural innovation and development in the state. I accepted the offer because after living in a forest for three years and being exposed to extreme poverty, I could relate to the need for encouraging rural enterprise. As the CEO of GIAN, I was responsible for identifying, nurturing and launching micro-level enterprises for poverty alleviation.
While working with farmers, I realised that merely providing capital was not enough. They had no knowledge or experience in handling businesses, and needed guidance and manpower to ensure optimum utilisation of funds. This sparked off the idea for Aavishkaar, a social venture capital fund, which I set up after quitting GIAN in 2001.