What are the focus areas of SREI Infrastructure?
SREI Infrastructure Finance Limited (“Srei”), a Kanoria Foundation entity, is one of India’s largest holistic infrastructure institutions. SREI, derives its name from the Sanskrit word ‘Shrey’ meaning ‘merit’ or ‘credit’. The company has been in the business for nearly three decades and has come a long way after starting its journey perhaps in one of the most difficult and challenging times. In 1989, India had not opened up its economy, which during those times, was not in good shape. There was hardly any quality investment in infrastructure projects. SREI was born then, a child of a dream, with the aim to address two of the most critical problems in our country then – financing and infrastructure. Today, SREI has close to Rs. 35,000 crore of consolidated assets under its management.
Your work in CSR centres around education, social up-liftmen, environment, humanity and spiritualism. How do they tie in with the company’s values and beliefs?
We strongly believe in “work with devotion”, being aware of our Dharma (duty) and performing our Karma (action). Our group has been actively involved in creating both business value and societal value. We decided to formalize this thought and create Kanoria Foundation, which has been incorporated with tenets of our deep rooted Hindu philosophy and as elaborated in the scriptures. Under its aegis rest our many businesses and social impact initiatives that include, education, help to acid survivors, healthcare to the needy, spirituality, green initiatives and many other areas. These social initiatives have been initiated based on the many interests of our family members and their desire to contribute towards a happy world. The core focus being hard work, dedication, devotion and a churning of ideas which benefit all stakeholders. The main reason for us to take this path has been our belief that our businesses and social activities both need to contribute to nation building. Businesses need to create sustainable and long term value and 10% of our profits from these at the Foundation level is contributed towards social initiatives. Our strategy is to invest in social initiatives that impact the body, mind and soul.
All businesses too come under the Kanoria Foundation, these include Infrastructure Financial Services; Infrastructure Development such as Roads, Ports, Telecom, Power, Rural Infrastructure, and Housing, Hospitality and Healthcare. Kanoria Foundation’s operational philosophy is based on a strong foundation of morals, values and culture.
A large component of your business is financing. How do you look at lending that promotes sustainability? What is the role of finance companies in promoting sustainable practices?
SREI believes in the concept of innovative disruption and this belief has led it to become India’s distinctive and holistic infrastructure financing institution. We have about 100,000 customers (construction companies, contractors, and others) in the infrastructure space and our team has a deep knowledge about finance. We have been financing our clients for more than two decades and been almost like a partner to them in their growth. It has encouraged and empowered entrepreneurship which we feel is the biggest contribution that a financial institution can do. Financing enables one to become a job creator and not a job seeker. Finance is a core part of everyone’s life and can significantly help improve the quality of life of all sections of society. Construction, after agriculture, is the second largest employer in the country and has a multiplier effect on nation building. Through our investment in initiatives like Sahaj, we have been able to empower entrepreneurs in the villages, who have created huge employment in rural areas. Under our Foundation’s social initiatives we have created a charitable trust, which has set up schools and educational institutions to support, educate and develop children from all strata.
How do you see SREI in years ahead?
In the last 28 years, SREI has been a part of India’s Infrastructure journey. I see ourselves continuing this journey with value addition to all stakeholders. For us the stakeholders in the pecking order are customers, employees, shareholders, society and the planet. We are in many areas of infrastructure financing, advising and developing and we hope to continue to grow profitably and responsibly. Our business objectives are long term and sustainable, so our approach is accessing, managing, investing and growing profitably, which we will continuously do.
In conversation with Mr. Hemant Kanoria, Chairman and Managing Director, Srei Infrastructure. (Original Post)