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Raising financial literacy supports social inclusion: Ambarish Datta, Managing Director & CEO, BSE Institute

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Ambarish Datta
 
Financial literacy and financial stability are two key aspects of an efficient economy. Financial literacy enhances individuals’ ability to ensure economic security for their families, believes Ambarish Datta, MD & CEO for BSE Institute Ltd. and member of the WFE (World Federation of Exchanges) global committee on Financial Literacy.
The BSE Institute Ltd. is a 100% subsidiary of BSE Limited and inherits from BSE the knowledge and insights into the capital markets industry, garnered over the past 141 years. Prior to taking up this assignment, Datta headed the Technology Aided Learning group at Reliance Retail Limited, during which he was responsible for a nationwide roll-out of e-learning and blended learning programmes covering a wide range of learners for shop floor staff to senior managers.
He is also a member of the Board of Directors for BFSI Sector Skill Council of India, a public-private partnership between the BFSI Industry and Government of India, BSE Skills and BIL Ryerson Futures Pvt. Ltd. Datta talked to The CSR Journal about their new CSR initiative Saksham and how BSEImpact intends to enhance the ecosystem of for-profit enterprises in India. Excerpts from an exclusive interview:

You’ve had direct experience with e-learning and blended learning programmes in the past. How can they solve issues like high school and college dropouts?

E-learning provides the learner with the flexibility of anytime, anywhere bite-sized learning that can be designed to address very specific learning gaps. Also the use of multiple media and emerging technologies like Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality can help create more immersive, engaging learning experiences. So, well designed e-Learning and blended learning solutions help learners with low motivation by making the learning more engaging.

In what ways would financial literacy in rural areas make a better India?

Financial literacy and financial stability are two key aspects of an efficient economy. Financial literacy enhances individuals’ ability to ensure economic security for their families. In India, there is a need to reach out to lower income groups and economically weaker sections including a large percentage of our rural population.
Financial inclusion and financial literacy are twin pillars. Financial literacy stimulates the demand side – making people aware of what they can and should demand. Financial inclusion acts from the supply side – providing in the financial market what people demand. Raising financial literacy supports social inclusion and enhances the wellbeing of the community.

How will Saksham, the latest initiative by BSE Institute, reduce the challenges of employability and employment in rural areas?

The Saksham initiative is designed to make the participants self-employable by:
Providing domain skills
Business development skills
Money management Skills
Connect with funding agencies
Connect with local ecosystem for mentorship and guidance
In the absence of industries and corporates in rural areas, the Saksham initiative by BSE Institute helps address the employability challenge by helping them set up their own micro enterprises thus not only addressing the participant’s own  employment needs but also helping create additional employment opportunities.

Where and how could for-profit social enterprises make an impact where non-profits could not?

The DNA of for-profit is very different from the NGO. Growth is at the core of it. Pure philanthropy and charity cannot tackle all the challenges faced by people ― an example of this is poverty. A social impact venture with a scalable business model can play a pivotal role in addressing some of the challenges faced by people through sustainable solutions.

How would BSEImpact enhance the for-profit ecosystem in the country?

BSEImpact is a platform to nurture startups in the impact space by giving them market access, mentoring, access to capital and incubation. The way BSEImpact intends to enhance the ecosystem is by providing recognition and access to critical resources required by entrepreneurs to build sustainable ventures that will create significant social impact. For example, can we provide access to capital for a startup in Varanasi working in the sanitation space or can we get the first customer for a venture based out of Ahmedabad working on a Bio Fertiliser kit? BSEImpact aims to bring in these critical resources so that more and more ventures in the social space can succeed.

How is BSEImpact working with startups?

The first step was to give recognition to selected 10 companies from over 300 plus applications. BSE Institute Ltd. also offered a scholarship of INR 1 lakh to the top idea―TorchIt―a startup based out of Ahmedabad that provides mobility solutions to the blind through their product ‘Sarthi’.
The 10 startups became a part of a capability building cohort where a group of experts touched upon important aspects of business and social impact. Post this, the startups got an opportunity to pitch to angels and VCs who evaluated their ideas for possible funding. Few startups also interacted with corporates for possible use cases. We intend to run more cohorts in the future and look at sector specific themes such as Water, Clean Tech, Sanitation, Education etc.

Could more enterprises in rural areas mean less migration to cities?

Rural areas have been experiencing out-migration of young, educated adults, or “brain drain,” for a long time. Lack of appropriate job opportunities is a major barrier for rural born, well-educated migrants seeking to return home or relocate to a rural place. Starting and growing new businesses in rural areas can stimulate local economies by creating local jobs, providing an expanded variety of products and services, and increasing quality of life in rural areas.
However, there are obstacles to rural entrepreneurship. Low population density and remoteness result in limited local demand and make it difficult to access educated labor, sufficient capital and infrastructure.
Not all entrepreneurs create sustainable or substantial jobs, most do not innovate much. Hence we will need to examine the situation carefully and have a clear, well-defined framework for developing rural entrepreneurship. One that addresses local needs and make us of locally available skills and resources effectively. This, if deployed carefully, can lead to reduction of migration to urban areas and in the long run reduce overindustrialization.

What are the other CSR initiatives run by BSE Institute Ltd.?

The BSE Institute conducts a number of job-linked skill development initiatives across India to train and help place young graduates in job roles in various sub-sectors of the BFSI Industry. In addition, we also work with various national and state skill missions to implement their skilling and employability agenda. Every year, we provide employability skills to thousands of youth and help them find job placements.

How does the public private partnership between the BFSI Industry and Government of India, BSE Skills and BIL Ryerson Futures Pvt. Ltd. work?

The BFSI SSC acts as a nodal body to implement the Government of India’s skill initiative in the BFSI sector (banking, financial services and insurance) with the involvement and support of the industry.
BIL Ryerson Futures is a joint venture that has set up Zone Startups India, which provides hands-on strategic and tactical guidance for startups looking to drive market validation and customer acquisition, as well as access to investors, corporate partners, and advisors.

How does BSE Institute envision responsible business?

We believe that that in an increasingly complex world, we will have a significant and long-lasting impact on people, our planet and our ability to sustain the levels of holistic development that we all aspire to. Our governance structures, procedures and practices are designed to ensure ethical conduct at all levels; and promote the adoption of this principle across our value chain.