This Community In India Turns Women Into Wealth Creators!
For a long time now, the narrative around women and money has not been a positive one. It’s either been a victim narrative where the ineptness of women around managing and investing money is highlighted. Or it has been a prescriptive narrative - women must do X, Y and Z to get financially secure. There has been almost no listening to the desires of women, or conversations with real women.
But what if I were to tell you about a community of women, right here in India, where women are at the forefront of wealth creation. Where conversations around money are a daily thing and are not considered vulgar or boring, and women are not talked down to about their money skills and choices. From saving, and investing, to stock market trading, and purchasing assets, women are the designers of their wealth destiny!
What’s interesting is that none of these women are finance professionals.
Neither are they professional stock traders, nor do they have finance degrees. They’re regular women like you and me, who want to transform their relationship with money and stop living life, from one pay cheque to the next.
The Women On Wealth community, a brainchild of entrepreneur and SHEROES community member, Priyanka Bhatia, fulfils a beautiful and important goal - that no woman has to struggle with financial issues alone.
Priyanka’s own journey as a “wealth creator” began when she was a little girl. While most kids spent their pocket money on toys and candy, little Priyanka played a secret game - she collected cash, not things.
On the 7th of every month, she would collect pocket money from her papa and add it to her growing “stash.” Sometimes sacrifices had to be made and she would skip her favourite ice-cream and have a Cola bar. This prudent streak continued into college, and she would use the bus, instead of autos and cabs. “I learned to make smart choices early on and by age 18, I had saved 1 lakh!”
The average professional earns a salary every month and often saves nothing. On the other hand, we have Priyanka who built a corpus of 1 lakh even before she officially started earning!
Having developed smart money habits early on in life, it’s no surprise that today, Priyanka leads a community helping women go from being earners and budget managers to proactive “wealth creators”.
Wealth creation, not a man’s job
Several hundred women have already altered their financial habits via Women On Wealth community.
Many have come out of the cycle of living paycheck to paycheck and become debt-free.
Many have built investment portfolios without depending on broker, husband, or father, and learnt how to pick good quality stocks in the market.
“Our community members save at least 25% more than they ever saved, before. They get involved in major financial decision-making in their house, and have a roadmap for the future they want, backed by the mindset and tools to accomplish them”,
If India has a finance minister for the nation, then these women are the finance ministers of their homes!
Yet, having worked with women across the country, Priyanka observes that in many households there are unpleasant consequences for women, talking about money.
“These are some variation of - that is the man’s job, so you just get on with housework and looking after the children. Dreams remain unfulfilled because there’s no cultural appreciation of the fact that they, too, have hopes and wishes. What we do is borne from the unvoiced desires of women, and we work to get them included in India’s growing wealth, “shares Priyanka.
“In our experience, financial freedom is a transformational act for women.”
Growing our wealth together
While WOW is a community, it’s also a business, and the programmes offered come at a certain cost. Via coaching in financial habits, mindset and methodology, the programmes deliver a life-changing perspective on money that help participants achieve their financial goals, peace of mind, a voice in their families and communities.
“What we charge for our services ranges from free to INR 1,000 to INR 20,000. In Nagaland, for instance, we’re on a mission to help women get out of debt at a very low cost. We are constantly developing our business model with prototypes - the latest direction is in supporting newborn entrepreneurs for a very low fee,” share’s Priyanka
Once you successfully complete the formal training and coaching, the WOW community enables “graduates” to stay on track in a safe, nurturing space.
“It is not enough to simply run a program for a few weeks and expect that habits of a lifetime will alter for good, for most participants. There are real difficulties along the way to financial consciousness and to implementing roadmaps to financial goals. These are societal and traditional taboos - but more importantly, the roadblocks are in the mind. Fear, resignation and cynicism can often undo hard-won milestones - unless there are like-minded women to provide a helping hand,” she explains.
The community meets online once a month to take stock of their journeys, but in touch almost on a daily basis, to have money conversations, share nuggets and stay on track on their wealth creation journey.
Start young and grow your wealth
“One of our participants is transferring her learnings to her pre-teen child. Now, we’re considering creating a module for children since this critical area is not addressed in schools and colleges,” outlines Priyanka.
In the absence of such a community in her childhood, I am curious to know what nudged Priyanka towards the wealth creation mindset at such a young age.
“Growing up, I heard my father talk about his journey from poverty to abundance, from being one of the millions of refugees in 1947 to a respected businessman. From him, I came to believe that creating wealth was doable, fun, fulfilling”,
says Priyanka, who today, has a diversified investment portfolio that consists of stocks, mutual funds, gold, properties, fixed deposits, PPF, NPS and my business - all built from scratch!
Ladies, follow and talk to Priyanka Bhatia here!
Like Priyanka’s own story, the WOW community has several transformative stories of women who started out with debt, and have gone on to significantly grow their net worth. Phenomenal as it sounds, making the shift has demanded major life and lifestyle changes.
What is that journey like? What are the results? To know, I decided to chat with some of the Women On Wealth.
Sheetal Gurung dreams of a debt-free Nagaland
A corporate trainer by profession, Sheetal describes herself as a “passionate WOW woman, an amateur marathoner, visionary, doer and a lover.” She is typing this from her hometown Mokokchung, Nagaland, where she’s on a much-deserved vacation.
Based in Delhi for the last 14 years, Sheetal recollects what she observed about women in Nagaland, growing up. “I would see my aunts and other women earning as teachers, lecturers, Paan shop owners, restaurant owners, running clothing stores, as police officers; women are not stopped from working and earning. They were independent, but little frivolous with money. I mostly saw them spending and saving a bit but rarely investing,” shares Sheetal, who joined the WOW community several years back.
Another aspect she recalls is her family’s relationship with travel. “Growing up, we didn’t have annual family trips or talks about dream destinations. If travel happened, it was as excursions or religious trips.”
So, how did Sheetal who once believed that “Travel is expensive and not for me,” get hooked onto the wanderlust and become an avid traveller?
“With the WOW Tools, I have been able to spend my money on what is necessary and that gave me access to save more to fund my travel. My mind no longer questions “if I can do it” but rather “how can I do it”?
It also has made me better at financial planning so that I can prevent post travel financial hangover, “ shares Sheetal.
In the last few years, Sheetal has travelled all across India, Nepal and Thailand, and is now furiously planning her next trip to her dream destination Japan, followed by Singapore and Australia!
Having grown tremendously in her wealth creation journey, Sheetal regularly hosts workshops, trainings on behalf of WOW, as well as on how to travel without a financial hangover.
And now she’s working on an even bigger dream - a debt-free Nagaland where families can live free of debt, there’s peace and harmony, and better infrastructure!
“During my recent annual home visit, I put together a few meet-ups to open a dialogue. This gave birth to our first batch of the debt-free Nagaland movement. The women are currently being supported through weekly calls,” shares Sheetal, with much hope and conviction. Since then, more Naga women have joined the community, and Sheetal’s vision is slowly taking shape.
Sheetal’s advice to women everywhere: “Have courage and make yourself a priority. Start your wealth creation journey as early as you can, think long-term and always remember that we are women and we can make anything better.” Totally, agree!
Hira Jethanandani says the stock market is NOT a man’s business
Like many of us, Hira grew up with the mindset that stocks are “just for men, and are too risky, unpredictable.
“The biggest myth was that stocks are a gamble,” shares Hira who feels that all of this comes with certain social conditioning.
However, her perspective changed radically after she joined a discovery session around stock markets.
What she learned in that one session inspired her to join the WOW Community’s stock investment programme, a structured programme that nurtures a deeper understanding of how the stock market forces work.
“What inspired me specifically is the practical approach to skill building, of taking complete responsibility of my money life, from earning the money I want, to making the money also work for me”,
says Hira who was also under the impression that she needs to be great at Math and accounts to get savvy with the stock market. However, she discovered this was not the case.
Does being financially conscious mean one has to live a frugal, ascetic life, I quiz Hira? To this, she has an amazing response.
“On the contrary, it’s the opposite - the fact that I've become financially aware, means I enjoy life in its true sense. Also, because I'm aware, I ask myself if a certain expenditure gives me that satisfaction, joy and value, and its impact. It's an empowering space to be in,” she rounds up.
Sanjana Agarwal went from shopper to saver
We often believe that only those from the middle class, and low-income backgrounds struggle with money. However, next I share the story of Sanjana, who comes from an affluent background and has completely transformed her relationship with money.
“I have an M.Sc Finance from Manchester Business School. After my Master’s I managed a sanitaryware plant for 3 years, then worked with my brother in setting up Marriott hotels in Nepal,” shares Sanjana who grew up in Nepal.
In 2015, she got married and moved to Delhi. Many women enter the WOW community when in major debt. So, what prompted Sanjana to join the Money Gym programme?
“WOW used to run a WOW kitchen and that's how I met Priyanka. The warmth of the team got me to attend the discovery session. During the session, they asked me what I had to show for the money that had entered my life - my answer was my expensive bags and shoes!”
“I used to travel to London every year to shop and would come back with 120 kilos. I never knew what “enough” was for me. Today, I buy what I need, and have turned from a shopper to a saver,” shares Sanjana, giving me an example. “We used to have a INR 3,000 mobile monthly pack. When I did Money Gym, I realised I could shift to a 500/ month pack.”
That, by the way, is a saving of INR 30,000 a year!
Sanjana has also discovered the power of upcycling in her journey. For a wedding in her family, she repurposed her wedding mehndi outfit. “I did not see the point of buying a new outfit. Now, I regularly share outfits with my sisters, and friends. Earlier I would hesitate in offering them to borrow my outfit but now I’m open to offer, “ says Sanjana, whose relationship with money has also influenced her own personal relationships.
“My husband has always been wise with money. I was the one who would spend all of it. Now we have a great partnership. My mom wondered why had I stopped spending. Today, she’s trying to change her habits and buy only what she needs,” shares Sanjana.
“I did not think I could inspire and impact other women. But today, 10 of my friends/ family have joined the community!”
There used to be a time when Sanjana wasn’t comfortable talking about money, but today money conversations some naturally to her.
Sanjana’s advice to women: It's not about how much money you have but how you use the money you have. Setting a goal, having a vision gives your life a purpose and makes you happier. I would ask all the women out there to invest in themselves- learn a new skill, learn to manage your money, learn to invest in stocks and don't depend on anyone - not even your loving husband, dad or brother.
Shaira Choudhry “won’t settle” anymore
A freelancer in the wellness space, Shaira facilitates workshops on mental, emotional, physical well-being from a holistic perspective. Occasionally she also anchors events, and loves doing “ordinary things in extraordinary ways”. Her name ‘Shaira’ means “poetess” and true to her name, she identifies herself as “poetic, contemplative, perceptive and introspective,” and these qualities reflect in her posts on SHEROES.
“I'm from a Liberal Arts background and didn't have any knowledge about how to make, use, manage and invest money,” she shares candidly, and like any freelancer, she struggled to sustain the flow of work. “I sensed something was “off” about my relationship with money, and was instinctively drawn the WOW community,” she says.
Shaira put herself through the rigorous three-month Money Gym programme, offered by WOW, an investment in herself and her career path, and since then lots has shifted in Shaira’s life. One major shift is in her thinking about creating, saving and investing money.
“It doesn't have to be a heavy-duty exercise. If you're willing to put in the work and follow the structures, it can actually be quite an easy and playful journey”,
observes Shaira who today, keeps a tab of her daily expenses, and this has in turn helped her budget her purchases in an efficient manner.
Being part of a community has brought several other benefits, too. “The community has helped me in recognizing what I need to do to generate income and expand my work - from something as fundamental as working on my profile, to attending networking events, working on a business plan, increasing my brand value, and becoming aware of my vision - the importance of all this towards running a successful business was all brought about in my life by WOW.“
Such unconditional support mixed with some tough love from the community, has instilled a new-found conviction in Shaira. “I'm more confident of charging what I know I deserve to be paid. I don't just 'settle' anymore.” Shaira also urges all women not to settle for pay that does not value what they bring to the table. Well-said!
The universe of women who can create wealth is not restricted to professionals, entrepreneurs, or freelancers because money enters our lives in myriad ways - salaries, gift, pocket money, bonus, house rent, inheritance. What we do with it is defines our wealth journeys.
A homemaker from the WOW community with no fixed income, saved 3 lakhs for her family. Today, she is a strong voice in her family’s financial decisions. Another member came out of a 10 lakh debt, launched a business, built an emergency fund and is now growing her assets. Yet, another member switched from taking a cab to work to metro. With the INR 5000 she saved in a month she aims to buy 14 shares of an FMCG business.
I’ll leave you with one last story that amazed me. A senior citizen, who found herself in a tough spot when her savvy hubby passed away, completely turned things around. Not only did she get savvy about her finances but she also becoming a savvy stock market investor. The real thrill was when her grown-up son, offered her 5 lakhs, and said “Ma, please manage my portfolio for me”.
That’s the power of investing in yourself, believing in yourself, transforming yourself!
So, ladies are you ready to create more wealth in your life?
Cover image: Membero of Women On Wealth community with Cherie Blair, founder of the Cherie Blair Foundation For Women, which mentors women entrepreneurs
Merril Diniz is Head of Communications at SHEROES, a writer at heart, and passionate about the women’s narrative. She has been a SHEROES community member since 2012, and loves the idea that women supporting women can make for a more progressive, awesome world.
D*****This is a very encouraging group. Please tell how to join the group.
G*****How should I join this team
A*****Hi...what is the procedure to join the program
J*****Can i join too???
P*****I too want to join
R*****I too wnt to join... I'm a housewife
J*****I also want to join you guys..... M homemaker..... Please contact me also
R*****I also want to join.
N*****Very nice concept I want to join it..
S*****It's an unique one vy useful to every women n interesting to know more about it
N*****I wanted to join this its really amazing work .. Kindly contact me pls
V*****This is really inspiring... I also want to join....plz tel me the procedure
P*****Even i want to be a part of this winning team.truely inspirational
S*****Very inspiring, I must take notes
B*****Beautiful summed up Merril. Sorry for replying late. Hey guys I too am a member of women on wealth and I must it has changed my whole attitude towards life not just money.
H*****After reading all these transforming stories, i am quite excited to join the community. Thanks for sharing Merril.
G*****I too want to learn about stocks. How can I join this grp
I*****I too wanna join u guys . i too want to get progressed
T*****Me too want to join this community.
P*****How to join this group
J*****Tell me more abt it.
M*****Hey Sameena, whether you are a homemaker, or not, I believe you can still create wealth, because wealth is not only about money earned but also managing resources well, getting savvy and raising your voice when required :) Women are very capable and can develop skills to manage it well!
P*****Wonderful! Very informative post!
D*****Kuddos to prianka...whatvan inspiration.....proud of you..also want to join.help
V*****I want to join them too....inspirational
M*****Hi Merril! Excellent article - exactly what many women like me need to hear - math is not a prerequisite to dabble in stocks and anyone with intent can grow money! Thank you for brining this story to us and Kudos to Priyanka for creating this moment 🙌
S*****Thank you Merril and so happy to see women commenting and showing their desire to be the finance ministers themselves and do more with the money they already bring in their lives
P*****Sushma, thank you for expressing interest in joining the Women On Wealth community. You can reach out to us by filling a form at www.womenonwealth.in.
P*****Anjanas, hi! Please don't lose hope. We believe that #WeAreBetterTogether! Just get in touch, and we will figure out ways to move forward.
P*****Sameena, hi! Please get in touch. We are here to support you in your money life, and help you get clear direction. You can be a home maker, and be financially strong at the same time.
P*****Thank you for showing up here, and commenting, Beena! Great job, Sheetal, Sanjana, Hira, Shaira! Blessed to have all of you in the community.
P*****Thanks for sharing about your Women On Wealth community, and community members here, Merril . Truly valuable! I appreciate your support in helping women take charge of their finances.
S*****I like Priaynka's and other women's thought. I also want to join wow community. Tell me to do that? Thanks
B*****Fantastic Merril! A fairly comprehensive write up. And I identified myself too. Thank you.
S*****Grt Merril for sharing the stories n making us feel worth not just home makers but can also become financially strong just need the support n right direction n path thnx once again to this community to make us women feel proud n that only men r not professionals n can make money but even we women r at par wit them n can handle money matters
A*****I also want to do something but not improve. Sometimes I thought I am not able to do anything................. Hopeless