First anniversary of
first employee of AU Foundation
Hailing from a defence background, I have always seen my father talking about the greater good, thinking and living beyond the self and in the service of society which strongly embedded in me at an early age. At just a tender age of 16, I went out doing my bit for the social good and worked on various areas in social development sector ranging from child and tribal rights to spreading awareness about government schemes. From participating in a public protest march for the rights of tribal population to embracing & living in their habitat, I thought I had done it all. But the more I worked, the more I saw, the more I realized that there is a constant need to just empower and enable people to go out and ask for what’s truly theirs. I was looking for something which will empower me to empower others to take a wise decision for their good. And that is when I came across AU Foundation, a Non-profit Organisation and CSR wing of AU Small Finance Bank.
My 1st interaction in AU Foundation was with Akshay Gujar, a young CSR professional, with eyes full of hope and a knack to do everything in an unconventional manner to challenge the status quo and with a clear mandate to solve social issues with sustainable solutions. In a 2-hour conversation with him, I had made up my mind to take this leap of faith and join AU Foundation in their mission.
With everything being new at the foundation (AU Foundation was barely a 3-month-old baby when I joined them as the 1st employee) and with chaos right from employee-related policies to setting up the work environment, I was always reminded if you see something missing, go fix it, the initial team is going to make the culture, so stop complaining and start fixing things.
AU Foundation had marked out the social issues they wanted to address. From livelihood enhancement to using sports for development tool and empowering people from unbanked and rural geographies for financial inclusion through financial literacy program were set as the focus areas. Due to my outgoing personality and previous experience of dealing with the public at large, I was asked to take care of the complete financial literacy program. But that is when the real challenge started for me. To make people financially literate, I needed to get myself fully aware of the banking terminologies, various products, challenges and issues around financial inclusion, what works and what doesn’t.
I still remember during my 1st financial literacy program we failed miserably in mobilizing people and keeping them glued during the program. We had to go back to the drawing table to rework on all the aspects like the flow of the camp, the involvement of local influential people, talking points we need to cover in the camp and to set the aim and motive of these camps. We decided that such camps can help people from unbanked and rural geographies take a wise financial decision and help them walk the path of financial inclusion and that is what we have made as a mission out of these financial literacy programs in India.
I always find this extremely empowering that the AU Foundation culture allowed us to play around, experiment new ways, think unconventionally and not be scared to fail. This has given me personally an exponential learning curve and pushed me out of my comfort zone. Today we have developed many unique ways of mobilizing relevant people for our digital financial literacy awareness programme, we have devised various delivery mechanisms of the camp such as Nukkad Nataks and are blessed to have multiple partners who help us in the execution of these camps.
Till December of 2019, our team has successfully conducted over 800 Camps in 6 states and touched 1,60,000+ lives. It is a moment of sheer pride when post our camps people visit the financial literacy centre and ask relevant questions and get the financial services which will help them in various walks of life.
I know this is just a start, much more is yet to happen, but with strong support pillars of AU Bank and AU Foundation, I am sure my leap of faith taken a year back has made me land on something extremely sustainable and beautiful.
Ending the experience of my 1st anniversary with a beautiful quote by Abraham Lincoln which I truly feel embodies the reason of our existence and makes me wonder is this why my father served the nation beyond the call of duty.
“Of the People, By the People and For the People”
– Abraham Lincoln