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Financial literacy camp: Bottom of Pyramid


Financial Literacy Camps – “A small initiative creating a huge impact”

Project done by: Vikram Menda

Finamoat Services Ltd.

Visit Website: www.finamoat.com

Background

A casual conversation with my house maid made me realise the lack of financial knowledge in their communities. I started a small initiative – “Financial literacy camp” for the low income group. Having interned at a mutual fund distributor, I was exposed to different methods of savings. To begin with, I started camps near my house and will gradually extend it to other areas.

I have always wondered why the helpers in my household rarely save. Whenever I asked them this question, the most common answer would be lack of awareness and lack of trust. What I later realised is that most of them appreciate the benefit of planned savings for important needs in life, but they require someone to teach and hand hold them regarding the right saving opportunities for their various long term needs. Thus began my journey of conducting these camps.

Objective

· Make them conscious of large future financial requirements i.e. child’s higher education, marriage, medical expenses etc.

· Show simple investment options, given their risk profiles.

· Create basic awareness of importance of savings in a systematic way to meet these requirements and help them understand the power of compounding.

· Make them aware of how very small savings on a regular basis can lead to a fairly large corpus over time.

Introduction

I conducted 5 camps with over 50 individuals including house help, drivers, washer men etc. I explained the importance of savings in this growing economy to meet the future needs. I then explained a few investment options like fixed deposit in banks, gold, equity and mutual funds. I made it an interactive session by asking those with bank accounts, the experiences and the problems they faced. I also spoke about inflation, interest rates and different schemes for different risk profiles. At the end, I made them fill out a questionnaire to understand the level of income, their savings habits and the level of financial literacy.

Main results and findings

78% of the sample size had a bank account and all of them had access to mobile phone. Thus, they were aware of basic methods of saving. There were few who did not have a bank account, I personally explained the importance of the same to them.

Figure 2

Most of them have television, refrigerator and two wheelers. What is interesting to know was that most of them owned their own house[1] which clearly shows that owing a house seemed to be a priority for this sample group.

Mostly, savings and investment is not a priority. Some of them had bank fixed deposits but most weren’t aware of mutual funds and equity.

Only a limited number of individuals had life and health insurance, showing lack of awareness.

Discussions and conclusion

The very first camp I conducted made me realise the knowledge level for the low income strata. I was happy to see most of them had a bank account yet some of them followed traditional methods of saving – “hiding money in the closet”. With each camp, I was able to empower more people and more. I even learned a lot through this process. While almost everyone appreciated the importance of saving, they feel that no one is interested in guiding them on how to save their very small surplus. They were extremely happy with this interaction. I kept stressing on the importance of insurance as well and how they could benefit from it since not a lot of individuals had access to it.

I feel that the vast population in our country in the lower income group requires education on the importance and need for savings. They require hand holding from people who they can potentially trust for the right advice. I feel there is a vast opportunity for various NGOs, students etc. to take this exercise as a habit on a regular basis. I feel employers of such population can also play a very significant role to guide them.

This is just a modest beginning for me, but I hope to join hands with NGOs and continue with this exercise, given how impactful this can be for many people.

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