Kaleidoscope of Possibilities

IIFL’s financial literacy mission is intrinsically wedded to the spirit of inclusion which demands unconditional effort to strike a chord with the target groups before attempting to define their needs. A report on IIFL’s recent financial literacy programs for various target groups including school and college students, teachers and working women.

Sudhir Raikar

Target groups of any awareness program, irrespective of specific regions and personal situations, are largely unaware of their real needs in life but it’s near-fatal to regard their ignorance as an impediment to creating awareness, for this ignorance is only an intricate mix of their perceived notions of wellbeing and the constricted visions of local bodies and activists who peddle muddled notions of growth and advancement.

IIFL’s Financial Literacy Agenda for Mass Empowerment (FLAME) initiative is continuously engaged in a seamless and fruitful dialogue with a wider cross section of people across the length and breadth of India – whether school students, collegians, housewives, young executives, entrepreneurs or senior citizens. Thanks to its wholesome field exposure, IIFL breathes the spirit of inclusion through all its initiatives. More than merely designing curriculums in target-friendly languages, we explode the deep rooted myths that plague the minds of the target groups in a non-intimidating and non-patronizing manner. We place life skill enhancement ahead of any other skill enhancement as unless the participants genuinely believe in their ability and agility to transform from within, no amount of counselling can help their cause. 

Given this sensitive and soulful conviction and the unconditional effort to travel the extra mile, the participants feel enthused to voice their freewheeling thoughts without the slightest inhibition. And when that happens, learning becomes mutually enlightening and enriching as it should invariably be. Some of the fascinating insights gathered during these sessions give a fair idea of the intrinsically inventive minds of participants of all ages, notwithstanding the strife and struggle of their personal lives.

Like Master Sujith of Adarsh Vidyalaya, Chembur who gave a dazzling demonstration of his lateral thinking when he was asked about his career goals during the interactive session organized in conjunction with the Symbiosis Institute of Management. He remarked “To begin with, I wish to run my own business but post commensurate experience, I wish to join the tech giant Apple in a suitable position.”  We know of many aspirants who wish to take on a job at the start of their careers and then venture into entrepreneurship. Sujith is keen to reverse the trend and going by his quality of attention and involvement in the session, we are sure he’ll carve a niche in his chosen sphere.

Like Miss Shaheen, a VIII standard student of a municipal school located in the deprived zone of Kausa who shares her money saving tips with such electrifying confidence that belies her weak syntax of expression “When I heard on Radio that onions are likely to cost more sometime soon, I immediately convinced my mother to buy more the next day.” …

Like Master Irfaan of Mumbra municipal school who impressed everyone by articulating the fundamental difference between a debit card and a credit card in his own words without having any prior classroom knowledge whatsoever...

Like Mughda Godse, a middle-aged primary teacher from Kendriya Vidyalaya, Kolshet, Thane “I was always worried about the impending retirement but this session has given me the confidence to plan for it. Not that I am well prepared at this stage, I am hugely motivated nevertheless to begin researching on the investment options available. To gain familiarity in stock markets, I will now do mock trading in few scrips as the first step.”

Like Shewanta, a lady in her early fifties who runs a small flower business in the slum pocket of Rathodi, Malad, who was supremely elated when she finally understood the difference between Assets and Liabilities in a session held in association with Don Bosco’s pioneering Entrepreneurial Development Program (EDP). She was even more delighted when she was reassured that it was perfectly all right if she could not pronounce the words correctly at this stage.

Like the enthusiastic but perplexed working ladies at a session held in the sprawling Don Bosco campus of Kurla who looked determined to re-examine their investment priorities in the light of the knowledge gained in the interactive session. At the end of the session, one of the ladies even summarised the learnings in clear and precise terms for the benefit of the rest.  

Like the cheerful students of Chattrapati Vidyalaya, a tiny but well maintained school in the remote tribal pocket of Jawhar, as also their efficient principal Mr. Gore who were exceptionally receptive to every thought shared at the session braving the hot sun and dusty surroundings.

Needless to say, all these wonderful participants help session speakers themselves in refining and revising their own perspectives, beliefs and assumptions about target groups and even life in general. Each passing day teaches us more about the art and science of financial literacy awareness that in turn helps us design different formats for different sections – whether bottom of pyramid, middle class or elite. Precisely why there’s no limit to our vehicles of communication – whether contests and quizzes, skits and musicals, interactive workshops, participative seminars, website updates and books & publications.  

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