“If you give a man a fish, you feed him for a day. If you teach a man to fish, you feed him for a lifetime.”
Chandrapur-born Mumbai resident Rahul Kelapure arrived at the same conclusion when he was thinking about what to do to help other Persons with Disabilities (PwD). Having been diagnosed with a degenerative eye disease called retinitis pigmentosa at birth, he’s been visually impaired since he was a baby. So, he understood and could empathise with the challenges they face on a day-to-day basis. “I noticed that although some persons with visual impairment might have jobs and careers, when it comes to dealing with finances, they are not independent,” he told The CSR Journal. He decided to teach them what he knew best – finance.
Rahul has become a torchbearer for creating awareness on Accessibility and Investor Education for persons with disabilities. His free tutorials have reached out to more than 2000 people last year alone, with a specific focus on the accessibility of the financial products and services. Out of the 4,000 people who have attended his workshops, Rahul says more than 1,500 are actively investing their money in fixed deposits, mutual funds and stock markets, at present. He has also done remarkable work in the disability sector through his efforts in teaching effective usage of smart phones for visually impaired and making Marathi books available in digital format for students.
A gold medalist from Government Law College, Rahul is an assistant legal advisor at SEBI. Alongside his full-time job, Rahul is currently pursuing an MBA in Finance and also preparing for the Company Secretaries course. After he moved to Mumbai, Rahul had taken up jobs at legal and compliance firms in Mumbai, Delhi, and Gurugram. In 2015, he enrolled himself with the National Institute of Securities Markets (NISM) to do a course in Securities Law. From there on, his interest in finance only grew. So, he decided to share his knowledge with others.
“I found my way of giving back to the society when I figured that a lot of people out there had no awareness about basic aspects like opening a bank or a DEMAT account, types of investments available, and financial instruments that are easily accessible,” he says.
Since he is usually busy with his job during weekdays, he started by organising free interactive training sessions, focusing on financial proficiency and investment decisions on weekends. All his workshops are specifically designed for PwDs. After the COVID-19 pandemic, he switched to digital platforms to deliver these sessions.
He also collaborates with several non-governmental organisations working in the area of inclusion to conduct the workshops and bring together young and bright minds. Some them include National Association for the Blind in Bengaluru, Atmadeepam Society in Nagpur, Snehankit Helpline for Visually Challenged and SBI Foundation in Mumbai, as well as Rajasthan Netraheen Kalyan Sangh in Jaipur.
All his sessions are free to attend. Making other PwDs financially literate is reward itself for this enlightened soul. With the COVID-19 lockdown situation, he is conducting webinars on accessibility, financial education and guidance on working opportunities in the financial markets. “Some visually challenged boys from Nagpur got so motivated to work in finance, they have qualified to become mutual fund distributors,” he says.
“Ultimately, I want to contribute in more people’s lives. This could happen with investor education for PwD or policymaking,” he signs off.