“Financial literacy is very essential for every individual and it is always wise to learn about it from a young age,” says Aryan Chaudhry, a class 12 student, who along with his buddy, Arnav Bajaj, founded Finance4teens — an organisation to promote financial literacy among teenagers.
“Understanding the nuances of banking and finance would help one make informed decisions on how to grow their money. But unfortunately, it’s rarely taught in our schools,” adds the Mumbai resident.
Arnav met Aryan while attending an online course on entrepreneurship from Columbia Business School. He says that the idea for their venture hit them during the lockdown. “In early 2021, when Aryan and I completed the online course, we came across several surveys and statistics that pointed out the low rates of financial literacy in our country. We also interacted with several teenagers from different schools and realised the same. So, we decided to do something about it.”
According to a survey by the National Centre for Financial Education in 2019, it was noted that only 27 per cent of Indians are financially literate and it was the lowest among the BRICS countries.
Thus after spending months on research and brainstorming, in December 2021, the duo set up their non-profit venture for inculcating financial literacy in teenagers.
A platform for teenagers by teenagers
Finance4teens is a platform for teenagers that provides in-depth and personalised educational resources on finance and banking.
Kick-starting the venture the duo’s main objective was to provide basic and practical financial knowledge to teenagers across the country. But Arnav claims to have set up a network that’s spread across different parts of the world. “Currently, we have seven chapters across the world including countries like the United Kingdom, United States, Spain and Greece,” says 17-year-old Arnav.
The platform provides resources in different forms like blogs, video lessons, investment competitions, webinars, and so on. It also provides them with a personalised financial roadmap plan according to their financial requirements.
“Initially we started it through social media platforms like Instagram and it was just the two of us. Slowly we started building a proper team and hired more people for managing different tasks. We also started taking in volunteers as interns to prepare and teach the curriculum. We also provide them with certificates,” says Arnav, adding that the interns are also teens but the website developers and marketers are professionals.
He also adds that the curriculum set by the volunteers is thoroughly overviewed by industry experts before sharing it with the students.
“All our sessions are conducted online and we are now conducting our sessions as chapters. From the students who intern with us, we choose a few who are academically oriented and have good leadership qualities to be the chapter heads. So, they head region-specific chapters, catering to different groups of students and we provide them with all the required materials,” says Arnav who resides in Chennai.
“Currently, we have seven chapters in total among which three are global and four specific to India – two chapters on Delhi, one on Mumbai and one on Bengaluru,” he adds.
The team, which currently has around 25 members, has a presence in different countries across the world. “We have students volunteering from countries including the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada, Spain, and Greece. Though we focus on India first, now we have a good mix of audience from all these countries,” he adds.
There are daily and weekly meetings among the members and monthly webinars and events conducted without fail. “Teenagers can register for webinars or video sessions free of cost. Now we have our YouTube channel, where one can access all our sessions which are pre-recorded,” says Arnav, adding that so far approximately more than 500 students have attended their webinars.
Speaking of what is taught and spoken about in class, Ranhvir Singh Sahi, a class 12 student from Delhi, who has been attending the webinars and sessions regularly shares his thoughts.
“Finance4teens expanded my horizons to the world of corporates and financial services. Since the ultimate aim was to provide financial literacy, I was open to a library full of topics such as, how an economy functions, how worldwide economies are interlinked, and how the macro-decisions of political powers and corporates have an effect at a microeconomic level too. I was a neophyte to the practical economic sphere and implementation of ideas for achieving monetary objectives,” he says.
“The weekly meetings and webinars taught me how money works and that books were just the tip of the iceberg. From introducing historical evidence of economic flaws and fluctuations to the alternate decisions which can prevent such mistakes in the future, Finance4teens played a crucial role in my current understanding of world affairs,” says Ranhvir, who has also been volunteering for the organisation, too.
The non-profit model organisation is funded mostly through donations and does not involve any third parties.
Aryan explains, “Initially we had plans of teaming up with third parties and we had a few sponsors who were willing to fund our venture. But we realised that we had to advertise their products on our website which doesn’t align with our objective. So, we decided to go ahead with the donation model itself.” He adds, “We both have invested a good amount of money personally and the rest comes in the form of donations.”
Arnav, who has specialised in commerce, says that it has been difficult managing studies along with running an enterprise. “It has been quite difficult but we have been managing it by time management; by setting schedules, sticking to them, dividing work among the team members, and so on,” he says with a smile.
Being co-founders of the startup, Arnav has been handling the outreach while Aryan has been in charge of keeping the overall track of the organisation.
Aryan adds here that their age has always been a challenge. “At the end of the day, we are high school students and it has been challenging, especially when we look for investors. They won’t be ready to invest in a student-run enterprise as we don’t have much experience. But we keep on striving in this endeavour,” he explains.
Edited by Yoshita Rao