A rupee saved is a rupee earned. With this age-old adage in mind, an international bank initiated a series of financial literacy workshops to impart training to members of various sections of low-income communities. After successfully introducing the training module in India in 2012, the bank is now scaling up its flagship program with the help of Samhita to reach out to hundreds more in Mumbai with the help of NGOs as implementation partners on the ground.
Samhita developed a two-fold approach to support the international bank with this program. The first phase included preparing impact assessment reports for the sessions implemented in 2012. This helped the bank to measure the impact of their program, both qualitatively and quantitatively. The second phase involved scaling up the flagship program by expanding the target groups and partnering the bank with four NGOs in Mumbai. Samhita helped the bank to reach out to 700 odd beneficiaries.
The international bank approached Samhita with the mandate of scaling up the beneficiary base and outreach of the program in Mumbai. Samhita facilitated the delivery of the training sessions to the target groups by identifying suitable NGOs to partner with and setting the timelines and milestones of the project. Samhita’s services helped the bank compound their program and thus, make the impact manifold. We provided end-to-end guidance for seamless implementation and effective outreach. This was also a successful exercise in building the brand of the bank as a socially-responsible organization among the lower-income group communities.
Samhita’s services included but were not limited to the following
- Scout for suitable NGOs to implement the program
- Conduct due diligence on NGOs for credibility
- Connect the bank with the respective NGOs and decide on the beneficiary groups
- Monitor and evaluate the method of delivery and quality of the financial literacy sessions
- Prepare Impact assessment reports on the beneficiaries post-session
The financial literacy training module focuses on encouraging saving habits and controlling spending of its target groups. In addition, the module also gauges socio-economic factors affecting low-income families and attempts to rectify the loopholes in their financial management system.
The delivery of this module involves group discussions; interactive exercises, live examples, and hands-on practice that help cultivate daily habits in terms of preparing budgets, setting financial goals, and monthly planning. The program benefits two diverse communities: marginalized youth in shelter homes and women in urban low-income communities. The marked improvement in the attitude of the people towards managing finances has been clearly evident among both the beneficiary groups.
BENEFICIARY: Young Adults
Mumbai is home to hundreds of children and young adults languishing in the confines of government shelter homes. Having faced some of the most deplorable and difficult conditions in their lives, these young adults find themselves caught in a quagmire of poverty, crime and deprivation. Even after being discharged from care, they go back to families struggling with domestic violence, substance abuse and extremely low income. Many youth return to neighbourhoods with few supportive programs and an avid lack of employment and livelihood opportunities in the unorganized sector.
The course was imparted to such young adults at a point when they were out to set out a new life in the world outside of the juvenile homes. Managing finances was going to be a priority once they will be left without the guidance of elders and families.
Our interactions with NGOs proved that imparting life skills such as financial literacy and planning helped future-proof these adults and set them on the path of recovery and redemption.
The NGOs who had partnered with the international bank were directly involved with the delivery of these modules to the beneficiaries. Quite a number of interesting observations were made about the change in spending and saving habits of the young adults.
A very significant learning to which a majority of the boys attested to, was ‘saying no’ to friends and relatives when they come asking for money. Majority of them also mentioned that they learnt about assessing risks and averting situations where they may have to borrow from other people.
Having lived a life where most of their income was spent on bidis, cigarettes, gambling, etc ; getting their expenses and requirements prioritized needed to be the first step towards managing finances. This financial literacy training helped them to identify and differentiate between essential or needful goods, wants and wasteful consumption and prioritize their expenditure accordingly. This helped them to spend their money judiciously and more importantly be cautious of potentially criminal situations.
Mumbai is a city of contradictions. Next to its plush offices and residences stretch out the ramshackle shanties of the poor. While being hailed as the financial capital of the country, it still houses swathes of financially illiterate and excluded people. Women form a substantial sub group of this populace. These low-income women face a vicious cycle of exclusion – their deprivation due to socio-cultural factors prevalent in India lead to and are in turn reinforced by their illiteracy, lack of confidence and financial exclusion.
This training program attempted to break this vicious cycle by empowering such women by enhancing their skills, knowledge and confidence through financial literacy.
It is believed that women are the money-managers of the house. Educating them about managing finances will affect the economic and living conditions of the entire family. After the financial literacy workshops, there was a stark change not only in the habits but also in the attitude of the women towards managing finances.
The impact of the financial literacy workshops had different observations on the basis of the age group the women belonged to.
Younger women were introvert adolescents who were on the verge of being independent earning women. Majority of the women in this group reported that they were able to anticipate situations requiring large sums of money (such as marriage, new educational course etc.), assess long term risks and start saving for such situations, thus minimizing their need to borrow money.
The sessions had implied social impact as well. For instance, these girls are used to living in extremely conservative and restrictive families. Thus this gave them a very rare opportunity to socialize, meet other young women and engage in discussions and debates. Being asked about their viewpoints during the workshop and being able to articulate their thoughts in front of an audience made them feel important, helped them overcome their shyness and boosted their self-esteem.
The older women were largely in their mid-thirties and the course gave them a defined format for more systematic planning. It also validated a few of the ideas they had around prioritization of expenses and regular savings. Most of these women get into quarrels with their relatives or neighbours in the event of borrowing and lending of money. After this training process, the women learnt to keep a written record for their finances and started documenting it. This proved to serve as evidence in case of conflicts.
Samhita played a pivotal role in ensuring that the benefits were accrued by the right target groups that would help them in the long run. By leveraging our NGO networks and our understanding of the social sector, we were able to help build a culture of careful expenditure and therefore, responsible behaviour among very crucial stakeholders who shape the future of our society.