There have been numerous byproducts of the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdowns in CSR. Apart from projects on digital learning witnessing explosive growth, another intersection where corporate social responsibility is rightly showing interest is the one between financial literacy and digital inclusion. Access to the internet and financial services are no longer a luxury, they have become a basic human right. Naturally, there is a spate of CSR programmes and corporate partnerships that serve this need. Here are three recent collaborations of this nature.
American Tower Corporation (ATC)
ATC CSR Foundation India, the CSR arm of American Tower Corporation (ATC) India, as a part of its Digital Communities Programme, has reached a significant milestone of launching 200 Digital Communities across India. Typically located at or near the base of an American Tower site, Digital Communities are places where people of all ages gain access to the internet. Based on local needs, Digital Communities provide educational, healthcare, financial and career development services with an aim to improve quality of life through connectivity.
With the opening of 15 ATC STEM Labs in the Government schools of Bihar, ATC CSRFI has taken yet another step in the direction to achieve its objective of creating Digital Communities to provide greater access to Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in areas where the internet remains limited. After successfully launching Digital Learning Centres with Self Learning Kiosks and Career Development Centres across the country, ATC CSRFI has broadened its e-education reach by launching ATC STEM Labs in more than 50 schools in UP and Bihar. ATC CSRFI is seeking to collaborate with partners to not only help with this effort of promoting digital literacy and other essential services, such as healthcare and financial inclusion.
Fintso and FinX
Addressing the increasing need of financial literacy and supporting India’s vision of becoming a $5 trillion economy, Fintso, a B2B2C fintech platform has partnered with edtech company FinX, which focuses on employability and training in the BFSI space, to create 10,000 new entrepreneurial Independent Financial Product Provider (IFPPs) by 2025.
The programme will embark the students on a journey to become financially independent with necessary support and assistance from industry leaders. The pilot programme will commence with 500 students across the length and breadth of the country. The programme includes full sponsorship for the training, fees for regulatory NISM V-A Certification, AMFI registration fees, along with internship stipend for three months. It will offer students with online access to the curriculum on a Learning Management System, lectures by industry leaders through industry interactions and access to the new-age Fintso platform to develop their financial advisory practice for one year.
With only one financial product provider for every 17,000 citizens in India, the programme will aid the urgent need of bridging the gap and strengthening the IFPPs to bring retail investors into the mainstream economy, while also creating micro-entrepreneurs in India. The programme will allow them to start a business in a high growth area with limited capital, and active assistance at the very start of their journey.
Himanshu Vyapak, Founder of FinX, said, “India has one of the largest pools of job seekers. For India to become a $5 trillion economy, we need a mindset shift of young Indians to become job creators rather than job seekers. Financial entrepreneurship is a great career path as it is knowledge-based and requires no capital to get started. More importantly, the financial success of IFPPs is directly related to the wealth creation of their clients.”
Post the completion of the programme, the students will have a career as a Financial Product Provider of multiple financial products, with the tools required to fully cater to all the needs of their clients.
Entrepreneur Suruchi Gupta got her start by winning hackathons after emigrating to the US to pursue her Masters in Computer Science less than a decade ago. She wanted to pursue her passion for technology to create something that will impact the lives of billions, and the result was GIANT (Global Internet Access Network Token) Protocol, a web3 protocol to decentralize and democratize access to the internet and financial services. Suruchi founded the company with college friend Jinesh Doshi, and the two have a working partnership of over a decade.
The tokenized bandwidth platform will partner with telecommunications companies and connectivity providers worldwide to create a new distributed connectivity economy that tokenizes bandwidth, essentially allowing anyone with a mobile phone to access the internet and become an owner simply by going online. GIANT Protocol was founded with the ambition of launching a decentralized connectivity economy that can address multiple challenges in the telecom industry. It envisions turning internet connectivity into a digital asset and creating a new web3 layer, which will align incentives of all parties, enabling the formation of a novel economic platform that is open to all, seamless and secure by design and governed by the community.
Says Gupta, Founder and CEO, “There are more than 5bn mobile phone users that spend over $2 trillion to access broadband and mobile internet every year. By transforming this bandwidth into a virtual currency, GIANT provides an on-ramp to web3 by simply going online. It is a simple, intuitive, and practical solution that turns our phone numbers into wallets and mobile minutes and mobile data into real world value for users.”
The company recently announced that it has raised USD $5 million in a seed funding round led by pioneer blockchain-focused investment ﬁrm, CoinFund. The Protocol is in an advanced stage of development, and the project has also hired a world-class team of executives hailing from Juniper, Salesforce, Roku, Mobile365, and others. For countries like ours which are looking to boost their digital literacy and financial inclusion, GIANT represents not only a practical solution, but also the story of a woman working to create technology to benefit the masses.