Sri. K Paul Thomas, the Founder of ESAF Group including ESAF Microfinance and ESAF Small Finance Bank has played an instrumental role in facilitating visionary leadership and has thus successfully established various social businesses with the primary motive of ‘creating opportunities’ in a way that these entities are able to provide valuable services to poor people on a sustainable basis. From a small credit of INR 3000 each to 10 women in 1992 ESAF is reaching out to more than 1.6 million women with an outstanding of INR 2500 Crores as on September 2016. He dreams of a society where everyone has equal opportunities to work and participate in the very fabric of our economy without the discrimination of gender, ethnicity or geographical barriers. He has thus set up ESAF group of companies which includes Evangelical Social Action Forum, ESAF Microfinance and Investments (P) Ltd., ESAF Small Finance Bank Ltd., ESAF Swasraya Multi State Agro Co-operative Society Ltd., ESAF Retail (P) Ltd., ESAF Healthcare Services (P) Ltd., ESAF Swasraya Producers Company Ltd., ESAF Staff Welfare Trust, ESAF Homes & Infrastructure (P) Ltd., ESAF Publications Trust, Lahanti Business Services (P) Ltd., Lahanti Lastmile Services (P) Ltd., Rhema Milk Producer Company Ltd., Rhema Dairy Products India (P) Ltd., Prachodhan Development Services, Cedar Agri Solutions (P) Ltd., Sanma Garments (P) Ltd. etc.
Sri. Paul’s consultancy is sought by various social investors, debt investors, networks, technical providers in the Microfinance sector. He has strongly given his opinion through leading national dailies about the positive impact MFIs have been making and that state Governments should refrain from bringing MFIs under the purview of State laws.. Sri. Paul has been invited by National and International Academic and Research Institutions and Business Schools such as IIM, Kozhikkode, ILO-Geneva, European Microfinance Platform, Harvard Business School, Asian Development Bank etc. to share the lessons learnt on innovative inclusive finance model. He is bestowed with several awards including the Emerging Entrepreneur of the Year Award 2014 by The Indus Enterpreneurs, CEO Excellence of the Year Award 2015 by DC Media, Dhanam Marketing Man of the Year Award 2015, SKOCH Order of Merit Award 2016, Indywood CSR Excellence Award 2016, Inclusive Finance India Award 2016 by ACCESS ASSIST, Emerging Entrepreneur of the Year Award 2016 by TIE Kerala and Banking Excellence Award 2017 by Chamber of Indian Micro Small and Medium Enterprises apart from various other awards being received by ESAF. He is also selected for Isow Mar Themotheous Award 2017 for the year 2017.
Sri. Paul strongly believes that ESAF’s integrated approach beyond just business motives might be a reason for getting the in-principle license from RBI to set up Small Finance Bank and shall continue to work with the same values and ethos with which he had set up ESAF in the beginning. ESAF Microfinance is the only NBFC in Kerala to start the Small Finance Bank.