Chennai, February 25th, 2020: Global bicycle giant Hero Cycles has entered into a strategic partnership with Muthoot Microfin, one of the largest microfinance companies in the country, to provide bicycles to lower income households and micro-entrepreneurs, especially women, in South India.
Muthoot Microfin Limited is focussed on providing micro loans to women entrepreneurs predominantly in rural regions of India. Through this arrangement, Muthoot Microfin’s 6,00,000+ clients across 150+ branches in Tamil Nadu will have access to affordable mobility through Hero Cycles.
It is important to underline that bicycle ownership can make a major difference in the lives of households living below poverty line. Bicycles empower men and women to easily venture out to longer distances to get access to employment or education opportunities. They also make travelling more affordable for people who find it difficult to spend money on daily transportation. At the same time bicycle accessibility has also shown to improve girls enrolment and attendance in schools.
The partnership is aimed at making bicycles easily accessible to poorer households through the availability of microfinance facilities. Under the scheme, Hero Cycles has made separate bicycle models available for women and men.
“Bicycles are often an underrated yet powerful tool of empowerment for the marginalized. Making bicycles easily accessible to a large number of people can bring about significant improvement in the state of their livelihoods and earnings. Unfortunately, gathering enough money to spend on buying a bicycle remains a challenge for a large number of households despite it being the most affordable mode of transport. Providing microfinance is therefore one of the most viable ways to increase penetration of bicycles among the rural and urban poor. For micro entrepreneurs, owning a bicycle can boost their earnings by expanding their catchment areas for work. We have had similar arrangements with microfinance providers in the past. We are happy to be part of another such initiative that will empower the rural and urban poor,” said Mr Pankaj M Munjal, Chairman & Managing Director, HMC, a Hero Motors Company.
A study undertaken by TERI and All India Cycle Manufacturers’ Association estimated that for marginal unskilled workers who walk to work every day, a 50% substitution of walking trips above the average distance of 3.5 km can result in travel time savings worth Rs 112 billion collectively.
Speaking on the initiative, Mr. Sadaf Sayeed, CEO, Muthoot Microfin said, “We are extremely delighted to tie-up with world’s largest manufacturer of bicycles. Together we aim to empower our clients with access to mobility. Muthoot Microfin has been fostering a spirit of entrepreneurship by providing timely credit to more than 1.8 million women across India and with this partnership we are further enabling clients to earn their livelihood.”
He further added, “Bicycle still remains the predominant means of transport in rural India and yet, affording one remains a challenge for many. Our aim here is to empower micro-entrepreneurs, especially women with the power of mobility, which can help them earn a higher income from their enterprise.”
The HMC Group with a $ 1.2 bn asset base and over 7,500 people across the globe comprises of the Cycle giant Hero Cycles, Auto parts manufacturing companies – Hero Motors, ZF Hero Chassis Systems Pvt. Ltd, and Munjal Kiriu Industries Pvt. Ltd, hospitality arm Munjal Hospitality and luxury home décor products company Oma Living.
Incorporated in 1966, Hero Cycles Limited is the largest cycle manufacturer in the world. The company has a manufacturing capacity of 7.5 million Cycles per year, with its unit in Ludhiana (Punjab), Bihta (Bihar) & Ghaziabad (UP). The company has a highly integrated plant in Ludhiana Ghaziabad (UP) and Bihta (Bihar) and a state of art manufacturing facility is Sri Lanka as well. The Ghaziabad facility also manufactures automotive rims and various other auto components for global automotive giants. In addition to the aforesaid the group also owns UK-based Avocet Sports and FireFox Cycles in India. While Avocet Sports was Hero Cycles’ first overseas acquisition and marked the company’s entry into mass segment of European Cycle market, the acquisition of Firefox Cycles was a strategic move to cement its position in the fast-growing premium bicycling segment in India.
Hero Cycles is a leader in both the standard and special Cycle segments in India, with an overall market share of about 39 per cent. The company is equipped with state-of-the-art infrastructure and the most modern machinery. A nation-wide distribution network with over 3000 dealers and the avourable location of its plants near vendors support its operations and facilitate competitive pricing of its Cycles. Hero Cycles also exports to various countries in Middle East, Africa, Asia and Europe.
About Muthoot Microfin
Muthoot Microfin Limited (MML), the microfinance arm of Muthoot Pappachan Group is one of the leading and fast-growing microfinance institutions (NBFC-MFI) in India. The company is focused on providing micro-loans to women entrepreneurs with a focus on rural regions of India. The microfinance operations of the company are designed to promote entrepreneurship among women and inclusive growth. The institution provides financial assistance through micro loans such as income generating loans to women engaged in small businesses.