C S Sudheer is the founder and CEO of IndianMoney.com – India’s largest Financial Education Company. He holds a strong vision to serve the nation by spreading financial literacy and promoting financial inclusion. Being a university topper Sudheer always aspired to achieve big in his life. He decided to start a financial education company, IndianMoney.com at the tender age of 22 to curb unscrupulous sales practices rampant in Indian Financial Services industry. Ever since, he has taken up this mammoth task of educating common man on various financial products in a simple and easy to comprehend language. It helps them with easy to consume capsules of financial education so that they are not cheated by any of the intermediaries. The company has recently been rebranded to Ffreedom.
In his research on “mass flourishing,” nobel prize winning economist, Edmund Phelps, had spoken about the need for grassroots innovation and empowerment to build a dynamic and prosperous economy.
Indeed the concept of mass flourishing echoes the journey that many countries went through historically with enterprising individuals creating successful ventures that created jobs while building, in turn, prosperous nations.
In India, the MSME (micro, small and medium enterprises) sector has been a key focus with many of the MSMEs being micro-enterprises. This is primarily for three reasons, I feel:
First, our country has one of the highest number of young, working age professionals globally and we need to provide multiple pathways for people to find livelihoods and income
Second, given that the higher education enrolment ratio is about 27%, jobs that require a college education are also limited to a certain number of people. Not just that, given the dynamic shifts in technology and skills, and the price many incur for higher education, a college degree is also sometimes not commensurate with a resultant job.
More than ever, micro-entrepreneurship could be an option for many people who are enterprising and have skills that can help them build sustainable businesses. But the difficulty, for millions, across the towns and villages in our country, is knowing just how to start.
Given the focus and need for micro-entrepreneurship, a support system for the aspiring entrepreneurs to keep building their skills and add to their income and opportunities is equally important. The increasing digitization, post the last two years of the pandemic, has seen one clear shift in terms of digital payment adoption by many such enterprises.
Our work at ffreedom, revolves around providing them with the practical skills to first choose the right livelihoods and then to keep enhancing their opportunities. Not just that, we believe that knowledge of financial literacy is equally important at every level of earning so that people can understand the financial terms and make the right decisions for themselves. This is why we have 800+ courses on our ffreedom app spanning farming, personal finance and business. And we offer this in 6 languages, since learning in their mother tongue might be a choice for many learners.
Here, you might find a mentor teaching how to run a successful candle making business from home. Or someone else showing a step by step process to build a cloud kitchen.
To help our learners find the livelihoods that could be suitable for them, we have divided the courses into easy goals which they can choose, based on their interest and skills.
For example, in farming, horticulture could be a goal for someone. And for some one else, it could be learning smart farming techniques. Similarly, becoming a youtuber could be a goal in business for someone and for someone else it could be building a food or a hyperlocal business. These goals help the learners customize their learning journey as they choose to become micro-entrepreneurs.
The courses are taught by successful mentors in the area and drill down into the basics of building that venture from scratch covering multiple aspects from infrastructure needed to other imperatives. Not just that, to ensure that the learning is life-long and practical, we have advanced courses on the topics that get into the hands-on practical aspects as well as hybrid learning methods and coaching support.
We see our learners find value in courses ranging from farming in a 1 acre land to building global ventures from villages to starting a business, right from the comfort of home to building handicrafts business etc. where for many, the skills are passed down over generations and the current generation needs to understand the new methods and techniques and then can build successful ventures.
While these enterprises may not get the visibility that so-called tech startups get, they are solving real problems and building strong ventures. Many are overcoming significant challenges in their road to financial freedom. We recently celebrated 60 such inspiring entrepreneurs through our show with NDTV titled Icons of Bharat. We believe that each successful icon can inspire millions of others to start and to scale. And the learning we bring can be an enabler in that journey of dreams.
The other area we find our learners engage in our app is our community section where they ask and answer specific questions. For example, as someone is learning a course on farming, they might have a question on soil-testing which someone else in the community may be able to answer. This builds a vibrant peer learning network that removes the loneliness of the hard entrepreneurial journey. We are also trying to build a trusted social marketplace based on this learning.
As we keep bringing the right livelihood courses for current and would-be micro-entrepreneurs, our key insight is that calling them micro or small or medium might just be a classification. But it does not in any way reflect the scope of their dreams. For many of them, the dream to build strong and to build big is inherent and we believe that many of them will indeed scale, and help build the culture of mass-flourishing in the India of tomorrow.