By Sandhya D’Mello
Khaleej Times, Dubai, United Arab Emirates
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Padmini Gupta’s startup “Rise” aims to build a migrant-centric fintech business to serve the 120 million low-income migrants globally.
Creating access to essential financial services for low income migrants was the single mission of Padmini Gupta, CEO, Rise, which led her to pursue her dreams of empowering the migrants.
“I started Rise to democratize access to essential financial services for low income migrants so they can build a better financial future back home. Beyond financial services, we also help migrants upskill and improve their earning potential through a range of free resources and hiring tools for our customers — our growth platform,” said the graduate from Oxford.
Padmini opines that over the next two decades, more than 25 million migrants who work in the GCC will return home.
“Our objective is to build financial resilience for that future. As a result, we launched Rise in June 2017 which primarily focused on our growth platform and aid in upskilling domestic helpers. In addition, we created localized Facebook groups to help maids connect with each other to discuss shared challenges they face in their daily lives and workplaces. Subsequently, we launched our financial services in 2017.”
The firm has grown rapidly — 70 per cent month on month — and offered banking services to thousands of migrants, thereby bringing millions worth of annual incomes that were previously unbanked into the financial fold. The venture’s aim is to build on these accomplishments to develop more services to cater to this large segment of the UAE population who was marginalized by the financial sector.
“We leverage an AI-powered bot which engages more than 20,000 customers a week in chats on their financial future — be it across financial health, opening an account with Rise or financial literacy. This is powered by an AI chat bot over messenger.
To contextualize the scale of engagement, in mid-August, Facebook had to disable our page because its platform could not cope with the high volume of incoming messages. This level of engagement and data gives us a significant edge in understanding customer needs as well as building new products,” said Padmini.
Rise aims to build a migrant-centric fintech business to serve the 120 million low income migrants globally.
Padmini began her career working in the banking sector for some prestigious institutions in the United States and played a role in the development of the banking infrastructure through various roles in financial inclusion such as Accion and the US Small Business Administration, to name a few.
From there, she wanted to play a role in global development and joined the University of Oxford master’s programme at Said Business School.
Following graduation, she began working for the World Economic Forum as a Global Leadership Fellow on pressing global issues such climate change for the G8 Summit and later Smart Cities.
“When I started my family, I decided to move back to the UAE and began my search for work that was both personally and societally fulfilling and began Rise,” recalled Padmini.
So, how does she balance work and home? “I try to be the best mother and CEO I can. The balance is the equivalent of an eight ball, juggling daily between the priorities of both roles. However, I excel when I’m busy, so right now I’m at my peak now. I also like to set an example for my kids and show them that mothers can be accomplished and good takers. At work, I must be focused to stay productive throughout the week and sometimes this can mean long hours in the office, which I must balance between my kids’ needs. However, on the days where we cross major milestones and accomplish big successes — theirs and mine, my family are always the ones I want to share those moments of celebration with.”
Padmini said the UAE does a tremendous job in creating avenues for innovative ideas to flourish. The ability for a startup to access mentors and workspaces is substantial. There are plenty of startup showcases as well, including SEF, Step and Gitex, which allow SMEs to showcase their talent and attract potential investors. There are few countries that have an international platform such as the one provided by the UAE.
“The entry costs for entrepreneurship here are high and so is the cost of failure. Removing both those barriers will allow aspiring entrepreneurs who cannot afford to take the cost risk the opportunity to try. Stemming from this, you will see more market innovations because some of the best ideas in the world have come from those who lacked access to an essential good or service,” she concluded.