“Madam, I am Sulochana, I rather call myself as Slow Chana,” is what she humorously told me when she met me first time in 2014. “I am little slow compared to other domestic help however my work is very good,” she continued.
I was quite impressed. It’s been 5 years of association with her and I am still amazed by the range of topics discussed by Sulo who has not even stepped into school even for a single day. She is an unmarried woman in her late thirties whose senior citizen mother still sells vegetables for a living. As for her brother, he is more of a burden than a support. Such is her situation.
I have been investing in mutual funds since more than 15 years and have enjoyed freedom to invest with a supportive and appreciative husband, which is still a rarity in the patriarchal society that we live in. As a person who is a proponent of women empowerment and financial independence, I was genuinely concerned about the welfare of my housemaid. During one of our discussions, I explained to Sulochana about mutual funds. She keenly heard me out and agreed to invest Rs. 1000/- per month. I took a commitment from her that she would continue to invest for minimum 5 to 7 years and she understood the reasons behind this ask.
On 30th April 2017, I started two funds in my name (I could not open in her name as we had to furnish PAN number and other supporting documents to open in her name). 1. ICICI Value discovery fund 2. ICICI Focused equity fund. Both started with Rs 6,000/- opening amount and Rs. 1000/- per month SIP. I promised her that I will give her the best of the two funds whenever we close the same. I decided so as otherwise she would be having all the eggs in the same basket.
As of February 2019, both funds had given her a growth of 4-5%. She is even aware that the market is currently volatile and is willing to invest further for another 2 to 3 years in the same fund before she switches this to any investment or deposit that will give her a guaranteed monthly income.
I keep telling Sulochana that she is “Fast Chana” as she is much ahead of many women when it comes to investments and savings. She is a woman who cannot read or write in her own mother tongue, who does not know how many zeros to put after the numeric 1 to make it 100,000/-, but will soon have one lakh rupees in her account.
Once in 3 months, when I update her about her fund value, she would thank me profusely for enabling her investment in mutual funds and I thank her for being a role model for many women.
Isn’t she an inspiration to many of us?