“There is no tool for development more effective than the empowerment of women.” – Kofi Annan
Few months ago, I had conducted an exclusive workshop for women on Life & Money at Bangalore, India. I learnt much more conducting the workshop than the participants probably learnt from my facilitation of the workshop. I vividly recall one of the participant’s story about how she learnt money management early on in her life.
Janani is an amazing woman who in her 60s wants to start a new life. In her earlier avatar, she got married early, ran a paying guest accommodation facility for single women in early 1980s [aka AirBnb earlier version] on wards and scaled up the business successfully and profitably across multiple locations and sold it after few decades! I believe her motive behind running the business was that even though her husband was earning reasonably well, had some farm land marked as inheritance, took care of the household expenses and funded children’s education goals reasonably well; her aspirations were different. Since she did not get educated beyond an undergraduate degree, she wanted to educate her children abroad and ensure that they had better lives and standard of living. With her earnings from business she could send her two children abroad for higher studies and she was able to fulfil their dreams as well as her aspiration to empower her children with better living standards. During the course of running the business she learnt how to manage money and invest better to raise funds for her children’s goals. What an amazing story! Isn’t it? I asked her if she has done so well till now, what is the curiosity in her that brought her to the workshop. She said I want to now embark on my second innings as children are away and I have lots of spare time. I want to be productive and efficient. I am looking for opportunities and ideas to incubate and scale it! I thought this workshop will give me some directions!! Wow!! Here is a woman who moved out of the comfort zone of being a traditional young home maker in the 1970s and 1980s and became a successful business woman with purpose and also achieved financial freedom and independence! We need more Jananis in India!
After all, financial wellness for women plays a very critical role in the development of society and as Kofi Annan says, there is no better tool for development than the empowerment of women. We believe all the more that more and more projects should focus a lot in rural areas across the world so that more women are empowered and they in turn can offer better futures for their children and family.
The workshop made us go back to the drawing board again. What if we can empower hundreds and thousands of women and provide a platform to gain financial freedom. We decided to kick start our ‘Financial Wellness’ project of reaching out to more Millennial women [with India’s half the population is less than 35 years old] exclusively in rural areas of India from this year onwards rather than in 2017. If you will like to know more about our project you could visit us athttp://igg.me/at/womenfinancialwellness/x/5120232.
As they say, ‘If we empower a woman, the whole village is empowered.’
(This post was first published on The Huffington Post.)