Women’s magazine eShe carried a profile about MIRR Investments founder Namrata B Durgan in its June 2018 issue. eShe is a Delhi-based monthly magazine which “looks at the world through ‘the female gaze’, and through the lives of its women, their joys and challenges.”
The magazine’s name is derived from the Hindi word “Ishi” which is another name for Goddess Durga.
The profile on Namrata covered how she was inspired to launch MIRR Investments to help Indian women discover financial freedom.
A visit to a ground breaking development project in the Kumaon region shows how rural women are eager to learn more about financial freedom.
When we talk of financial freedom for women, we automatically assume that urban women would be the first to comprehend the various financial options available to them. But as I discovered on a recent visit to the Avani community development project located in the Kumaon region of the Himalayan state of Uttarakhand, rural women are actually more keen to learn how they can maximise their investments for a rainy day.
Established in 1997, Avani – named after the Hindi word for Earth – creates opportunities for viable employment through a self-sufficient and environmentally sustainable supply chain. Though both men and women are involved in the activities of Avani, the focus is largely on women, who constitute 85% of the participants in the various programmes, from textile production such as wool, silk, linen, yarn and pashmina to the production of natural dyes, among other activities.
My visit to Avani was an eye-opener as I saw the resilience of the women who were so dedicated to their work while balancing their duties at home. When I gave a group of women a presentation on the benefits of S.I.P (Systematic Investment Planning) and the wonders of compound interest, they realized how this was a better way of investing than the usual fixed deposits that they were used to.
“Time, patience and discipline – these are the three mantras you need to follow,” I said in my presentation explaining that taking care of investments was like taking care of one’s health. They found it amusing when I shared that it’s false to think that all urban women are aware about investing despite earning more money than them.
When I saw how easily they climbed down mountain trails, carrying heavy loads of pine needles on their heads, I used that as an example of how capable they were compared to me who needed help to walk the same mountain paths. “Financial planning is also about negotiating tricky paths,” I told them. “Just like you are aware about the pitfalls and know how to walk mountain paths, you can have a similar approach to ensure your financial planning is safe and fruitful.”
That inspired them to think how they would first set aside even a small monthly sum of just Rupees 200 for their SIP, before they spent on their domestic budgets.
In fact, when I was walking in the forest, I came across some women and started having a general chat about my visit to Avani. Intrigued, they started asking more questions and I ended up giving them a presentation on financial management, right in the lap of nature!
India’s rural economy is considered a strong growth engine. According to a 2013 Accenture report, since 2000, per capita Gross Domestic Product has grown faster in India’s rural areas than in its urban centres: 6.2 per cent CAGR (compounded annual growth rate) versus 4.7 per cent.
Between 2009 and 2012, spending in rural India reached $69 billion, significantly higher than the $55 billion spent by the urban population.
Clearly, the opportunities for financial planning and empowerment abound in rural India. And as I discovered during my memorable visit to Avani, it is India’s rural women who can lead the way towards financial freedom.
– Namrata B Durgan, Founder, Mirr Investments
At last, here’s a movie that portrays women taking on the male-dominated world of Wall Street. Equity, directed by Meera Menon, revolves around Naomi Bishop (played by Anna Gunn), a seasoned female investment banker holding her own in the fiercely competitive world of big money.
“For me, I guess the simplest answer is, I like money”, Bishop honestly states when asked what makes her really get up in the morning.
Equity has been getting positive reviews with one critic hailing it as “the she-wolves of Wall Street”.
The fact that there’s never been a female CEO at any of the 22 largest U.S. investment banks says a lot about gender inequality in finance. The irony couldn’t be more obvious at a time when Hilary Clinton has become the first U.S. female presidential nominee.
Equity is not only correcting that imbalance on-screen but also behind the camera. The film’s leading producers are women as are the scriptwriters, while the mostly female-led cast is directed by a young Indian American woman director.
“The film is about women in power and their relationship with money,” Menon said in an interview. “All of these things are newer to explore because they’re not necessarily things that historically women have been associated with.”
As Bishop says in the film, “I am so glad its finally OK for women to talk about success.”
It’s the kind of line that should inspire women worldwide to shatter the glass ceiling once and for all.
A new commercial by Nike has thrown the spotlight on India’s sportswomen, using sports as a trigger to boost female empowerment.
In a break from the typical alpha-male dominated imagery seen in most sports advertising, the Nike India commercial features a cast of over 160 girls such as one of the world’s youngest fully trained Stott Pilates instructors, Namrata Purohit, footballer Jyoti Ann Burrett and cricketers Harmanpreet Kaur, Smriti Mandana and Shubhlakshmi Sharma, in addition to other sports practitioners.
Major star power is added by the likes of tennis star Sania Mirza and former national-level badminton player turned actress Deepika Padukone.
The music-driven ad titled “Da Da Ding” is inspired by sociological findings that suggest that “female participation in sport helps to alter a girl or woman’s self-image in numerous ways, including feelings of control, competency and strength,” according to a statement from Nike.
For example, Rani Rampal, who in 2010 at the age of 15 became the youngest player on India’s national field hockey team, says that sports helped build her self-assurance and expand her dreams: “Coming from a small village never stopped me; every time I won a medal I kept getting stronger and more confident to take on the world.”
Given that women have traditionally remained under pressure to live up to outdated expectations – be it in how they look or what careers they choose – India’s sportswomen can fuel a new wave of much-needed female assertiveness.
An assertiveness that also reflects how they earn, save and invest their money.
The world of finance has traditionally been a male domain but Indian women are smashing through the glass ceiling to emerge as leaders, especially in banking. This management revolution is happening at a time when fintech, or financial technology, is rapidly changing India’s financial ecosystem.
Some of India’s leading banks are headed by women such as Arundhati Bhattacharya (SBI), Chanda Kochhar (ICICI), Shikha Sharma (Axis Bank), Usha Ananthasubramanian (Punjab National Bank), Naina Lal Kidwai (HSBC) and Kaku Nakhate (Bank of America Merrill Lynch India), among others.
This trend is indeed ground-breaking indicating that India is at par, if not ahead, of many countries when it comes to gender equality in banking.
A report in The Quint suggested that some of the reasons why women have made such an impact include their ability to be natural team players, multi-taskers and flexible managers while adding that “women also traditionally tend to be more careful with money”.
Taking an international view beyond banking, a recent study by the Centre for Financial Research at the University of Cologne indicated how women approach financial management. The study indicated that female fund managers switched around their portfolios less than their male colleagues. An analysis on Investopedia offers further insight on “the unique ways women approach finance”.
With women heading some of India’s top banks coupled with the growing impact of fintech, it should be no surprise if the country is heading for a financial revolution. A recent report by KPMG India titled “Fintech in India” states that “the traditionally cash-driven Indian economy has responded well to the fintech opportunity, primarily triggered by a surge in e-commerce, and smartphone penetration.” The transaction value for the Indian fintech sector is estimated to be approximately US$ 33 billion in 2016 and is projected to reach US$ 73 billion in 2020 growing at a five year CAGR of 22 percent.
With banks targeting the millennial audience – India has the world’s youngest population with over 350 million people below the age of 24 – fintech is expected to play a major role in attracting this crucial demographic. Moreover, with 277 million internet users, India has just overtaken the U.S. to emerge as the world’s second largest internet user after China.
In other words, fintech powered with female leadership can give India a unique standing in the global financial market while giving you, the consumer, better options on how to manage your money.
If you put the cliche to the test, when it comes to money, men are indeed from Mars while women are from Venus.
According to a recent study conducted by Social Indicators Research, men and women are seduced by money in different ways. The study featured over 100,000 individuals in the U.K. who were surveyed on how they responded to money across various parameters. The study broadly defined four main categories which are associated with money: security, power, love, and freedom.
One of the major differences between the genders was in how women associated money more with love and freedom compared to men. By contrast, for men, more than women, money represented power and security.
Among its many findings, the survey also confirmed the phenomenon of retail therapy for women. Compared to men, women were “worried spenders” – they shopped as a form of therapy and they worried more about money.
It goes without saying that the findings of this survey, which focused on a U.K. sample audience, could also probably offer similar results in India and other countries. As indicated by the study, if women see money as a means to freedom, then the MIRR credo of “Indulgence is Freedom” rings true.