About Alpa

Ideally speaking, every individual -men and women should be in control of one’s life for it is observed that when one is able to have proper control over his or her life and actions, he or she is able to shape their future and destiny to a large extent. However having said this, the fact cannot be denied that future is always uncertain. Several factors influence and have a serious bearing on one’s life course. But that is something not within one’s hand, what rather is how we as individuals empower ourselves to face tough situations. In order to be able to face tough situations that life may throw at us, we need to be trained to handle them and be empowered. The answer lies in Empowerment.

 

So What Is Empowerment?

 

Empowerment is awakening the power within self.

Empowerment is basically arming an individual with skills, resources, authority, opportunity, motivation such that it will contribute to his/her competence and satisfaction. People are trained to take their own decisions, solve problems, improve their lives and thus be responsible for their actions.

Empowerment can be done in different ways. I believe in empowering the different sections of society through financial literacy. Everyone should have some basic financial literacy and finance sense. This is a time when the buzzword is “Financial Inclusion” and institutions are trying their best to bring the economic backward & the under-privileged sections of the society into the mainstream so that they can avail the fruits of economic development; and there is inclusive growth.

 

 

PM’s Initiatives

 

I completely support the efforts of our Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi in recognising the need for financial empowerment and his various path-breaking measures in this regard. The aim of the Prime Minister is to make India a developed nation while bringing about a complete transformation in the lives of the people.

Transforming India is a gruelling task and in order to be meaningful, at the end of the day it should make a difference to people’s lives – especially those at the lowest rung of the society. The PM has taken a new approach which is far from conventional. For the ground realities to change, reforms have to be broad-based and inclusive. After all the goal is to better the lives of Indian citizens.

Empowering the deprived is a right step in eliminating poverty. For this financial inclusion powered by financial reforms have been ushered in. Financial inclusion through Jan-Dhan and Aadhaar-linked subsidy payments are meant to benefit more and more poor. At the last count, over 27 crore people had been brought into the banking system which is more than the population of most countries. The government has transferred almost Rs 27,000 crores into the bank accounts opened under the Jan Dhan Yojana. Further the government has reduced wasteful expenditure through innovative methods such as using Aadhaar to target subsidies to the deserving. In addition, empowerment of individuals is a running theme of the last two years. Several other pioneering initiatives are set to transform the country; and empower the society.

Empowering people especially women is very close to my heart. While the subject of empowerment has no boundaries, what particularly drives me is women empowerment.

My small humble contribution towards this holistic larger goal is Next Level Education, a company I co-founded with one of the core objectives of imparting and spreading financial literacy amongst the people who require assistance in financial management, mainly youth, women and community at large.

 

A Wonderful Obsession

 

As I mentioned, financial literacy is one of my major objectives because it is directly related to the well-being of individuals. Financial literacy empowers and helps individuals to improve their level of understanding of financial matters. This in turn enables them to process financial information and make informed decisions about personal finance.

Ignorance about financial matters is the cause for several issues relating to personal finance such as savings, borrowings, investments, retirement planning etc. It leads to wrong decisions in life and inadequate corpus when one needs it most.

The other reason in favour of financial literacy is that over the recent years, the financial landscape has become more dynamic and considerably complex with the introduction of many new financial products. People are unable to decipher the risks-rewards framework associated with each investment avenue. Ignorance of primary financial skills is the reason for several wrong decisions in life. But a financially literate individual can make/select the right financial product by evaluating associated risks and returns. He will not get cheated by sales people selling financial products not suited for him.

From a nation’s point of view too, a financially literate society immensely contributes to economic growth and development.

Therefore I have chosen “Empowering People, Especially Women with Financial Literacy” as my goal and to share with them my knowledge and experience.

Here I would like to speak a few lines about myself. I have always been associated with finance and have been associated with the field for over 20 years – having the privilege of working with the TATA Group. I instituted and spearheaded the worksite solutions division of Tata Asset Management – a unique effort during that time that blended investor education with direct sales by introducing first time investors to mutual fund investments. After working for many years, the entrepreneurial bug in me had the better of me and Next Level Education took shape.

The genesis of the idea was to impart financial knowledge to community at large and to do something for the society – to go beyond investor education and assist youth and women in financial management. One can build a strong and a financially literate India though this way.

Everybody has an ideal, my ultimate role models are Mother Teresa and Warren Buffet. Mother Teresa worked tirelessly her entire life to make a difference and improve the lives of the poor and the sick suffering from HIV/AIDS, leprosy and tuberculosis. Warren Buffet, is noted for his disciplined approach to value investing and for his personal frugality despite his immense wealth. A notable philanthropist he has pledged to give away 99 per cent of his fortune to philanthropic causes.

 

What else helps my goal?

 

The key to success I think is in staying focused and strong, humble to the core, believe in self and in developing robust execution capabilities, whatever role one may decide to undertake.

 

Where do we go from here?

 

We have just managed to establish a connect and there is a long way to go. Transforming lives is a tough task and requires a lot of endurance. However I can say that the initial phase of this journey was tough but today there is satisfaction. This is derived from the fact that mine and my team’s efforts has made a difference in people’s lives, it has enabled them to lead a good life with independence and dignity.

 

My Dream

 

My Dream is to touch the lives of one million people through financial literacy programmes, taking the same to every nook and corner of the country. For this I need like-minded partners who can join forces. I want to empower one lakh women not just by education but by helping them to put their knowledge to good use and practice that will ultimately enable them to transform their lives and those of their immediate family. I want to inculcate the habit of systematic investment, beginning from early age, right from the age Young India begin earning their incomes. This can be achieved Systematic Investment Plans (SIP). Finally I want to empower and help community at large and to give back to the society – as much as possible.

If you feel what I feel then do not hesitate to reach out to me.

Connect with me

Stay connected.

 

Alpa Shah