In the last week of Feb 2015, two dynamic, Class XI students — Anashaya and Payal from The Valley School joined us for a week long internship. They share their internship experience at Artoo and discuss the need for technology to serve the poor. Read what they have to say below.
Anashaya’s reflections on his week long internship at Artoo…
My experience at Artoo has been an enriching learning experience, one I will cherish throughout my life.
Artoo provides a very open and informal atmosphere, which helps them to be self-critical, and flood the floor with new ideas. The most important quality of Artoo is that it is extremely accountable to its clients and takes the onus for any of its shortcomings and addresses any issues at a very short notice, as I have witnessed firsthand.
We were given a heartwarming welcome, and we immediately became a part of a family that is Artoo. We were given the experience that all of them at Artoo were given before joining it.
Payal and Anashaya work on their presentations
It provided us with a holistic social and business understanding of micro financing and the people living at the bottom of the World Economic Pyramid. The interesting part about their interactions with us was that despite being in the heavy business phase of the year, they were able to develop a program for us and were able to explain technical stuff to us in a manner that brought our hazy and extremely limited understanding of the matter to a clearer and better one.
Technology is something that assists people, making them better off. In today’s world, we see technology as something catering only to the middle and upper classes of society. But, do the lower classes not deserve to have technology? The exploration of an idea for developing technology, like what Artoo does, that helps/is accessible to the poor, who are the majority of our population, is building technology for impact. When such technology has been built, it opens up new avenues for the poor.
One of the factors considered when estimating how poor a person is his access to financial services. When appropriate technology has been built, it can be used by banks/individuals for helping the poor overcome their financial obstacles. One need not see this as social service. There is business to be made in this. If you provide services to the poor at the same rate/fees as to others, you will have a larger customer base and thus, more profit. Also, the same technology can be altered a little and used for the richer customers. Soon, cost of operations will reduce (transport, wages etc.) and you can reduce your interest rates a bit. Thus, you have more profit and better credibility and more customers, and most importantly, you serve the poor.
Thinking about IT solutions for Financial Operations, I see a plausible idea in the development of a mobile application (for a fees/commission) whereby people can access a bank account that is common to the whole area. Every month, villagers deposit some amount of money and a part of it is invested by the app developer or a bank in some shares while some is to be used as money for loans at a very low/no interest rate. The profit/dividend from the investment and the interest can be used for rural development in that region.
What Artoo, I trust will do, will help in the upliftment of the rural masses. And the main objective of an MFI — that of financial inclusion — will have been achieved. I wish all the best to Artoo for its future operations and hope they succeed, because in their success lies the society’s betterment.
Anashaya Gandikota studies Economics, Commerce, and Accounts at The Valley School. He likes reading, watching TV, playing volleyball, and money. He likes to learn about the world of finance. He wants to be a stockbroker when he grows up, mainly because he will get a better understanding of something that is an integral part of our lives…and because of the money.
Payal’s reflections on her week long internship at Artoo…
“Friday Lunch” at Artoo
My first work experience was very enlightening. Sameer’s presentation at The Valley School interested me a lot and when I saw Artoo as one of my options for an internship, I knew I had to ask for that. Luck favoured me and I got selected to work at Artoo.
On my first day, we were warmly welcomed by the Artoo team. We had an introduction session in which we were introduced to the World Economic Pyramid and the Microfinance sector. This introduction session is given to all the employees when they first join. After going through these articles, my perspective regarding a lot of things have broadened. I appreciate the patience that the team had to organise an orientation program for us, despite year-end pressures.
The atmosphere at Artoo is friendly, where people are open to new ideas and creations. They are very efficient with their customers, cater to their needs and also handle situations quickly at short notice. They took us through the Artoo product and its features, which helped us understand the benefits of the product. Such products help reduce the cost of operation for MFIs, which in turn provides better access to loans for the poor. Being in Artoo for a short span of one week, I have learned a lot. One such thing is that of identifying the root cause of issues that arise while using the technology. A task that becomes harder, especially when users are ‘first time technology users’, and unable to accurately explain what issue they are facing. Further with this process of identification, one not only learns how to verify or solve the problem but to also draw out the fundamental issues that underline the preceding analysis.
Technology plays a vital role in helping the poor rise out of poverty through comprehensive technology and enabling communication. I think products should be built in such a way that it is affordable and user friendly to the poor. In this way, it is easy for them to learn fast and some day connect with the world. For instance, in my opinion, digital banks will replace or rather has slowly started replacing today’s banks. This will be very useful for the society as it will be more convenient, used more efficiently for productive purposes, will save a lot of time and energy and also the money will be safe.
All in all, my experience at Artoo was an incredible one. I really wish I could spend more time to learn a lot more. Once again, I appreciate and thank the team for taking the time to spend with us inspite of their busy schedule.
Payal Deviah is from Coorg and is studying Commerce, Accountancy, Economics, and Art at The Valley School. She likes to read, travel to new places, and go on “food trips.” She also enjoys painting.