Shweta Aprameya on Women’s Day 2022
My biggest motivation comes from the customers I serve and the impact that we can see. Majority of our customers are entrepreneurs in their own way like me and hence I can empathise with them a lot more, said Shweta.
In an interaction with Bfsinxt, Shweta Aprameya Founder and CEO, ARTH, a micro-MSME financial service provider with a focus on non-digital businesses, shares her thoughts on how her journey has been so far, how she sees risks and how her risk taking ability has changed over the years.
Apremya earlier founded a payments firm called YTS, which was bought over by Airtel Payments bank. She served as the Airtel Payments bank COO for one and a half year before moving on. Shweta has served as Digital Finance Advisor to IFC clients in Srilanka & India on large scale digital transformation projects. She has studied MIT Sloan MBA, MSc Economics Management & Policy, BA (Economics). She was recognised as the Principle Innovative Leader 2019 at MIT Sloan School of Management. Edited Excerpts:
Q. How do you view your career trajectory? How exciting has it been for you?
I started my working life with an internship with ITC e-choupal, moved to NCR, Airtel Payments Bank, and IFC-World Bank within the first decade of my career before starting my own fintech venture called YTS – a Micro Payments Fintech. However, what really defines my trajectory is my growth towards impacting a few thousand lives to a few lakhs and hopefully much more soon.
In my early days after completing my graduation, I interned with ITC on their e – choupal flagship program, which used solar and internet platform capabilities to connect farmers with price and weather discovery at the village level. IT was a game changer to see technology as a key enabler in empowering the farmers to improve their lives and their crop selling process.
From my early career days from 2005 onwards, use of technology at grassroot was at a nascent stage across agriculture, health care and financial services- but it gave me a perspective that technology has the power to transform and redefine process to create large scale impact.
Thereafter, I consciously chose options that had the amalgamation of technology and impact. In my role at NCR, I had the opportunity to design and develop a unique Digital Financial Inclusion machine for emerging markets with India being one of the key; an innovative & frugal micro deposit machine that offered a single note deposit with biometric identification for the underserved daily micro saver community. This was one of my big wins to break the glass ceiling rethinking the use of advance technology to real life problems with simplicity and scale.
Post which, I moved on to start my own fintech YTS- largely focused on supporting micro payment solutions for domestic migrant solution in India. I successfully exited the venture when Airtel bought over the business and relaunched it as Airtel Payments Bank.
As a COO of Airtel Payments Bank for instance we launched the first payment banks licensed by RBI with the aim to establish a micro banking and payments platform in the remotest corners of India at scale.
When I started working on launching ARTH, the objective and the mission was very clear. I wanted to create a platform that reached and addressed the needs of one of the most underserved sector- the women micro-entrepreneurs. ARTH today has impacted more than 3,50,000 individuals in less than 4 years. While we started with small-credit products, we are planning to expand our product suit to a combination of payments, insurance and other services soon.