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Upasana Taku: 'Good Things Come To Those Who Hustle!'
With the mission to simplify payments in India, Upasana co-founded MobiKwik in 2009, her current focus is to bring a million retailers into the MobiKwik payments network
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With the mission to simplify payments in India, Upasana co-founded MobiKwik in 2009, her current focus is to bring a million retailers into the MobiKwik payments network.
Upasana says, "My biggest inspiration has been my parents, even though they opposed the idea of entrepreneurship when I decided to take the pledge. Their upbringing made me realize, that I have the courage to do, what I really desire to do. Their upbringing has made me this strong willed and tenacious woman that I am, and helped me in staying focused while facing tough times."
Upasana Taku, comes with a strong background in payments, and has worked as a senior product manager with PayPal in the Silicon Valley and prior to that, with HSBC in San Diego, US. An engineering graduate from NIT Jalandhar, Upasana also holds a Masters degree in Management Science from Stanford University. She has over 14 years of experience in Payments & Financial Services.
Her biggest achievement is to be able to transform lives. Upasna narrates an instance when a woman came up to her and thanked her, while she was visiting Pune.
She said, "Curious, I enquired what help she is referring to. The woman shared her earlier story, that whatever money she earned by doing household chores, her in-laws used to take it as no matter where she saved her cash, they would find. And she couldn't go to the bank after 6 pm to deposit this money, which wasn't anyway more than Rs. 150. Then, she started giving that cash to a friend to save and never got it back. M-Gullak, an initiative we are running with an NGO in Pune, helped her in saving her money in the wallet and she could access it to recharge her phone, or transfer to her bank account with the help of an NGO representative. It made me feel great."
The journey Upasana started through MobiKwik, will be transforming into something else in the next five years. She has planned her venture to be instrumental in providing masses access to credit and investments, apart from payment services as MobiKwik is looking to evolve into becoming the port of call for all financial services for masses.
About the strategic planning and positioning process she revealed, "We are working collaboratively with banks, other financial institutions, NBFCs, industry partners, the government, and civil society to find innovative products/solutions to address the needs of the growing digital/financial economy and the aspirations of a billion plus people."
The best part would be that MobiKwik users that have a credible transaction history with us, will have one tap access to loans and they will also be able to invest their money in the best financial instruments available in the market. By the end of 2017 only, their aim to serve over 150 million users.
When asked about the difficulties women face in tech circles, she said, "Initially at MobiKwik, I was managing finance and I still remember how one CA firm and a potential investor asked if they could speak with someone male from the team. Seeing a woman leading a male dominated vertical was unsettling for them. However, after breaking the ice, they were comfortable and it didn't stay a concern. Since, there are not too many women in technology, I hope this changes in the years to come."
When enquired about the pace of the Indian ecosystem in terms of absorbing the cashless trend on a positive note she said, "India is a diverse economy with culture and languages changing every hundred kilometres. To change the habit of cash into digital for masses at large will still take us over a decade. Having said that, the government's efforts in terms of enabling an environment conducive to digital payments are commendable and we have made a humble beginning."
On the eve of International Women's Day, Upasana had a special message for the young and aspiring women entrepreneurs, "Be it rural India or urban, women must realize that they can have a role other than natural care-fivers and nurturer. You cannot pour from an empty glass; thus they need to be happy first to be able maintain a happy environment for others around them. I urge women to realize and chase their dreams. Just go for it because good things come to those who hustle!"