CSR and Financial Literacy in India
Abright orange bus is parked in Maralur Dinne, a village in Karnataka’s Tumakuru district. In the shade of that bus, 32-year-old Varalakshmi is trying her best to sell a garland of plastic flowers for Rs.20 to a woman who wants a discount.
A few women around are criticizing Varalakshmi’s sales approach while others point out the good stuff. “You made good eye contact with Salma (a prospective customer) and paid attention to her and that made her buy despite not getting as big a discount as she wanted,” said one of the women encouragingly.
This little skit and the feedback session is part of a two-day workshop on financial literacy by Buzz India, a programme run by Bengaluru-based non-governmental organization (NGO) Navya Disha Foundation. The orange bus—a mobile classroom called Buzz—is driven to various villages and women are taught simple bookkeeping and financial planning, among other things.
The Prime Minister’s Jan-Dhan Yojana (PMJDY), launched in 2014, has further propelled India’s drive toward financial inclusion. According to data available on PMJDY’s website until 2 December, 194 million bank accounts had been opened under the financial inclusion scheme. But if financial inclusion is to be achieved, experts argue, financial literacy has to be addressed first.
“It’s not just money. If it (finding answers to problems of poverty) was that easy, people would have found the answers by now. Even when people have money, they end up becoming poor. How they deal with money is a behavioural aspect, and that’s what we want to instil,” said Uthara Narayanan, who runs Buzz India for Navya Disha.
Navya Disha works to alleviate poverty, but, given the thrust on financial inclusion, in 2012 it added the mobile school that works on financial education. Equipped with training material, the bus serves as a classroom anywhere in a village.