[100 Emerging Women Leaders] Meet Shweta Aprameya, who built fintech platforms way before they became the norm
In this feature of 100 Emerging Women Leaders, we feature Shweta Aprameya, Founder and CEO of fintech startup ARTH, which provides financial access for the livelihood and uplift of women in rural India.
Shweta Aprameya knew that if she had to start up, it had to be in the financial sector and investment space.
After completing her studies at MIT Sloan, Shweta worked in the UK in the financial sector, enabling digital finance, using technology in the emerging markets.
“Around 2008-2010, the world around us was transforming, and yet there was a significant portion of the population that didn’t have financial access. I felt technology could be a great enabler,” Shweta tells HerStory in a conversation.
After returning to India in 2010, Shweta decided to look closely at the segment. She focused on Mumbai’s Dharavi market.
Working as a VP at Fino Payments Bank, Shweta worked on the Alpha Payment Services — a mobile payments venture focused on providing bank-led financial services to the masses with an operator and device-agnostic model.
“I knew that technology could be a great leveller, and my goal was inclusion. So, by 2013, I started working on developing a mobile financial services platform to power micro banking and payments for the bottom of the pyramid,” she says.
Shweta had built a low-cost savings micro deposit machine, which was to be deployed by banks to facilitate savings and onboard people into the world of digital finance. The first machine was deployed at the Dharavi market.
“Working here, I had realised there was a need to focus on micro-entrepreneurs, who needed access to affordable capital. For this, there was a need to be more proactive than the existing system,” she says.
In 2013, this led Shweta to start YTS Solutions, a micro-payments company focused on the migrant population.
In 2015, the fintech startup got acquired by Bharti Airtel, where Shweta continued to work for a year. She built the payments bank for multiple users with micro banking and payment services.
“I knew I wanted to delve deeper into the microfinance, payments, and credit space,” Shweta says.
Offering credit to women
After her stint at Airtel, Shweta took some time off and worked as a senior Digital Finance Advisor at IFC for South Asia. She also worked as an advisor for a few startups.
“By 2018-2019, the world of payments and digital inclusion had seen significant growth and shifts. I wanted to get back into the entrepreneurship fray, and I started ARTH,” she shares.
ARTH provides financial access for livelihood and uplift of women in rural India.
“We believe women are the best borrowers. They do not default and return loans on time. Thus, the idea of ARTH is to provide low-cost credit delivery to these borrowers,” Shweta says.
The fintech startup supports micro-entrepreneurs with capital for their multiple needs. It has over 3.5 lakh unique customers in more than 18,400 pin codes.
So far,has impacted over 35,000 women and close to 55 percent are new to credit. It provides flexible credit facilities and helps discover different financial services in India.
ARTH aims to go deeper and touch more rural lives.
Advising women entrepreneurs, Shweta says, “Understand the market you want to operate in, work on building a strong team, and nothing can stop you.”
Edited by Suman Singh