In India, Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) are crucial to the economy, providing jobs and spurring growth. Yet, nearly 93% of MSMEs struggle to access external funding due to gaps like insufficient financial records or weak credit histories. This makes Credit Rating Agencies (CRAs) vital, as they bridge this divide, offering lenders a clearer insight into an MSME’s creditworthiness. 

Credit rating is one method to address these information discrepancies prevalent in the sector. You can check your business’s credit rating by presenting information such as the business’s financial state, activities, and prospects. Credit Rating Agencies (CRAs) use this information to generate a credit score for your firm.  

The higher the score, the better the company’s prospects of obtaining a loan. Consequently, credit rating agencies play a significant role in the economy and financial stability. But they can also make it difficult for small businesses to get loans. Let’s talk about this in detail. 

Why Are Credit Rating Agencies Important? 

A credit rating given by a Credit Rating Agency  is an assessment of a company’s creditworthiness and capacity to repay loans. Beyond this core function, it also serves as an investor benchmark for assessing credit risk, offers insights into a company’s market position and operational efficiency, and communicates its financial health to potential stakeholders. This rating is derived from an analysis of the company’s current and historical financial status. 

For example, in India, the Credit Rating Information Services of India Limited (CRISIL) assesses an enterprise’s creditworthiness based on its strengths, market reputation, and market share.  

The main functions of CRAs are: 

  • Providing information: By providing credit ratings for firms, organisations, and banks, the agency assists investors in making informed investment decisions. 
  • Enabling access: Issuers pay CRAs to analyse their creditworthiness and assign them ratings since this validates the issuer’s financial products, providing them access to a ready market of investors. 
  • Helping regulators: Judgements by CRAs serve as a worldwide uniform benchmark for credit risk, making them an appealing reference for international regulatory norms.  

Due to the expansion in capital markets, credit derivative markets, globalisation of capital markets, and an increase in regulatory use of ratings, CRAs have become increasingly important participants in financial markets as generators of opinions regarding the creditworthiness of corporations and governments.  

CRAs have an impact on both the supplier and purchasers of credit — any mistake in the credit rating process has an immediate and considerable impact on credit buyers and sellers. It also affects the overall performance of financial markets.  

The subsequent sections look deeper into the various ways in which credit rating agencies influence the economy, both positively and negatively. By examining their role, particularly concerning MSMEs, we gain insight into their pivotal influence in shaping financial decisions and overall economic health. 

How Does Credit Rating Agencies Affect The Economy? 

Credit rating agencies play a pivotal role in shaping the economic landscape, especially for Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs). These agencies typically use a rating scale, often ranging from 1 to 8, with 1 indicating the highest creditworthiness and 8 signifying higher risk. This standardised rating scale not only provides businesses, particularly MSMEs, with a tangible measure of their financial standing but also bolsters the confidence of lenders and investors, fostering a healthier, more transparent economy. 

Here are some more ways credit agencies have had a positive impact on the financial stability of businesses: 

  • Reduced Information Asymmetry: Credit ratings offer detailed insights into an MSME’s operations, strengths, and risks. This information streamlines their loan appraisal process, resulting in shorter turnaround times for loan requests. 
  • Improved Bargaining Power: MSMEs can leverage their credit ratings when negotiating terms with suppliers. Also, sharing an independent third-party rating with suppliers can enhance an MSME’s standing and credibility, potentially leading to more favourable business terms. 
  • Lower Interest Rates: External credit ratings can help banks determine the risk weights for their loans, affecting the amount of capital they must set aside. Higher ratings translate into lower risk weights, potentially leading to lower interest rates on loans for MSMEs. 
  • Database Creation: Credit rating requests for MSMEs are recorded in a database that serves as a valuable resource for government ministries and departments, helping them identify potential MSME suppliers to meet their procurement targets. 
  • Feedback and Benchmarking: The credit rating process provides MSMEs with feedback on their strengths and weaknesses. It allows them to benchmark their performance against other MSMEs and track their progress over time. 

That being said, CRAs have wielded significant influence over credit availability to enterprises and nations while remaining unaccountable for their actions. Unaccountability includes issues such as corporate failures, conflicts of interest, and a lack of transparency.  

Some more ways that CRAs negatively impact the economy and the financial stability of businesses are: 

  • Subsidy Dependency: Many MSMEs opt for credit ratings primarily due to subsidies available under the Performance and Credit Rating Scheme (PCRS). The availability of these subsidies can be unstable, depending on the fiscal situation, leading to volatility in the scheme. 
  • Low Renewal Rates: CRAs sometimes fall short in emphasising the importance of regular rating renewals to MSMEs. Many businesses don’t frequently update their ratings, potentially missing out on showcasing improved creditworthiness. This lack of renewal can limit their ability to secure favourable interest rates, representing a missed opportunity for both the enterprise and the broader economy. 
  • Inconsistent Interest Rate Reductions: While credit ratings often result in lower interest rates, there are cases where MSMEs with high ratings struggle to negotiate reduced interest rates with banks. 


When you apply for a loan or line of credit for your business from a financial institution, the institution typically considers your credit score. Credit Rating Agencies (CRAs) significantly influence financial landscapes by bridging the gap between lenders and borrowers, particularly for MSMEs. Their evaluations enhance business credibility, facilitating better loan terms and lower interest rates. However, challenges like interest rate inconsistencies and subsidy dependencies highlight the importance of a balanced perspective on credit ratings.  

In essence, while CRAs provide essential insights into a business’s financial health, businesses must navigate their ratings with a focus on sustainable growth and stability in the broader economic context.