SC Ventures, the innovation, ventures and fintech investments unit of Standard Chartered, today announced the commercial launch of SOLV, a full-stack B2B marketplace for micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs), in India. The platform is part of the Bank’s vision to rewire banking to serve the needs of its existing and new client segments in the digital age.
The 60 million+ strong MSME sector in India is one of the primary growth drivers of the country’s economy, accounting for nearly 30 per cent of GDP, 40 per cent of the workforce and 40 per cent of exports, and is growing at around 10 per cent year-on-year. However, MSMEs in India have not been able to harness technology for growth despite rapid strides in digital transformations across all sectors.
SOLV’s B2B commerce platform offers India’s MSME sector an open and inclusive trade ecosystem across the entire value chain – from facilitating connections and negotiations with verified suppliers and buyers, door-step pick-up, and delivery of goods, to timely and easy access to finance as well as simplified business support functions. These are critical elements that will help expand market access, bring operational efficiencies, and shape success for millions of small businesses across the country.
SOLV’s intuitive and user-friendly conversational commerce platform also brings the power of technologies like blockchain, artificial intelligence and machine learning – emerging technologies that are usually only accessible to the more established players – to these small businesses and helps them conduct their business with multiple stakeholders in a trusted environment.
Since its inception, SOLV has been focused on digitising entire supply chains across various sectors, including fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG), mobiles and accessories as well as hospitality. More than 15,000 small retailers, traders, wholesalers, and manufacturers to date are using SOLV and realising the benefits of this transformation. Many small businesses that previously had no digital identity are now able to leverage the power of a full-stack e-commerce platform that allows them to have their own digital store fronts, access a wide range of products at the best prices, optimise their inventory, digitise their payments, generate goods and services tax compliant invoices and reconcile their accounts. Small businesses on SOLV’s platform can also generate ‘SOLV score’, an alternative credit score, to establish their creditworthiness within the ecosystem.
SOLV currently operates in over 20 Indian towns, and is set to expand to 200 towns within the next year. Beyond India, SOLV will be rolling out in Kenya, Ghana and is also exploring other markets for expansion.
“Simplifying growth for small businesses in emerging markets, especially in the current post-pandemic environment, is one of the most pressing challenges that financial institutions can help to tackle. Backed by Standard Chartered’s global capabilities and deep local knowledge from over 160 years of presence in India, SOLV has the potential to positively impact millions of local MSMEs by helping them to achieve sustainable growth,” said Jiten Arora, Venture Lead, SOLV and Global Head for SME Platforms, SC Ventures. “As data continues to grow exponentially in the Indian market, SOLV is plugging into these data sources and building end-to-end technology led commerce and financial services solutions supported by business solutions, that can help to solve problems across customer onboarding, alternative credit scoring and underwriting, digitising operations and improving the efficiency of supply chains. We believe the platform is well-positioned to expand to other geographies to deliver its benefits to more small business owners around the world.”
With B2B buying and selling patterns shifting significantly towards digital channels after the outbreak of COVID-19, SOLV has been helping to keep supply chains operational by making use of its network of small businesses on the platform to connect suppliers to new buyers, and buyers to new suppliers. In maintaining the flow of essential goods, it has more than doubled the revenue of many small businesses on its platform with over 300 per cent growth in the value of goods traded over the last quarter and is now supplying over 250 tonnes of goods to small businesses every day.
SOLV is also trusted by several leading FMCG manufacturers, restaurant chains and non-governmental organisations in India to help them achieve deeper penetration in middle India through its network of small retailers and source quality products.
Additionally, SOLV’s extensive open network of more than 20 financial service providers enables invoice financing through a ‘buy-now-pay-later’ solution, growth capital through business loans and a well- integrated supply chain finance programme to support small businesses in their growth journey.
SOLV started as a business idea incubated at SC Ventures. Standard Chartered has been actively experimenting with new business models to meet the evolving needs of its clients. The Bank recently announced the launch of Mox, its digital retail bank in Hong Kong, in partnership with PCCW, HKT and Trip.com; nexus, its banking-as-a-service solution; Cardspal, a credit card deals aggregation platform in Singapore, as well as a joint venture with Assembly Payments to develop and deliver next generation payment solutions.