In a re-branding exercise, SKS Microfinance will be rechristened as Bharat Financial Inclusion Ltd.

The stated reason for the name-change is the ‘transformation’ the microfinance institution (MFI) had undergone which has enabled it to play a major complementary role in catering to the national priority of financial inclusion.

The timing could not have been better. Operationally and financially SKS Microfinance is in the pink of health. For the full year 2015-16, it posted a net profit of ₹303 crore against ₹187 crore in the previous year.

The gross loan portfolio, excluding Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, grew 84 per cent during the year under review to ₹7,677 crore (₹4,171 crore).

More importantly, the balance sheet was cleansed with Andhra Pradesh (United) exposure of ₹1,360 crore being written off or provided for.

Also, allegations of harassment of clients by recovery agents in Andhra Pradesh and high interest rates by MFIs are now things of the past. SKS had to face this challenge in 2010 months after its hugely successful IPO.

The AP Regulation of Money Lending Act 2010 and subsequent shrinking of the MFI sector were the biggest crises that SKS went through.

Now this is history. The allegations have vanished in the new NBFC-MFI regulatory regime of the Reserve Bank of India.

The cost-optimisation measures taken by SKS, which resulted in the number of branches coming down from 2,379 in Q4 FY11 to 1,324 in Q4 FY16, has made it the only MFI in the country with a sub-20 per cent interest rate (19.75 per cent), a marginal cost of borrowing of 10 per cent, and a cost-to-income ratio of 47 per cent. It also capped the return on assets from microfinance at 3 per cent.

Now, will the new name take the company to the next level of growth?

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