Harshada, a branch manager at our Nasik branch, recently completed a year at Aye Finance. The year she’s spent at Aye has been an adventure, not just for her, but for her colleagues as well. That’s the unique thing about being in a leadership position – you’re responsible not only for your own successes and failures but also – to some degree – for those around you. For Harshada though, that’s never been a roadblock. In fact, her day is proof of her dedication to her team’s success.
Every day, in the life of a branch manager at Aye, is filled to the brim with activities that are the lifeblood of their branch’s smooth functioning. They start with a morning huddle that briefly touches upon what their team accomplished the previous day before delving into their plan of action for the day. This is extremely integral because simply listing out their tasks for the day helps the team, and their branch manager, ensure maximum productivity and optimum utilization of resources.
What attracted Harshada to the MSME Lending Space?
Before Harshada started working in the NBFC industry, she worked at an NGO in Nasik as part of their field team. Working with micro-entrepreneurs as part of this team was a gratifying experience for her, but she often felt limited by the scope of change she was able to bring about. She couldn’t help but wonder if there was any way that she could do more to help the bottom of the pyramid businesses. It was then that Harshada was introduced to the world of MSME lending, and realized the potential it held to be a catalyst for real change.
Hence, she began working with Aye Finance. She came with a predisposition hard geared towards empowering micro-entrepreneurs by finding ways to help them reach their full potential.
Leading during the COVID-19 lockdown – Harshada’s Approach
When the COVID-19 lockdown was announced, we at Aye Finance had full faith that our micro-entrepreneur customers would survive it, and continue to thrive. The only questions that remained were in terms of how we would maintain contact with them and continue to extend our support in a time when we couldn’t visit them in the field.
Harshada, like many of Aye’s branch managers, was willing to continue field visits with proper safety and social distancing measures, but owing to the reluctance and fear of our customers, we had to devise alternative ways of interacting with them. For this, we roped in all our branch managers to help us as their understanding of their domain and its inhabitants is unparalleled.
With their input, we put into place stronger than ever tele-calling teams to help us maintain contact with our customers. Harshada, and other Branch Managers like her, did their part by ensuring their customers’ felt heard and understood, and that they themselves had a finger on the pulse of evolving market trends and business conditions.
The future, as Harshada sees it
When asked where she sees herself in five years, Harshada’s answer came without any hint of trepidation, “Aye Finance pe, aur kaha!” (At Aye Finance, of course!). The most astonishing thing about this answer (and its speedy delivery) is the clarity it conveys. Most of us would need a moment, a day or even a lifetime to know how to lead a fulfilled life, but for Harshada, there’s no doubt. Her work gives her a sense of accomplishment that trumps all else, and at Aye, she’s found a place where the only factors that determine her growth trajectory are her accomplishments and mettle. Like many women before her, Harshada is no stranger to combatting people’s preconceived prejudices. But at Aye, in spite of being the only branch manager in Western India, she’s never once felt it as a pain point.
In the future, Harshada sees herself and Aye serving more micro-entrepreneurs than ever and diversifying our loan products to include housing loans.
So, if you ask what is, in fact, the driving force behind a branch manager at Aye Finance, the answer is the joy of bringing our country’s micro-entrepreneurs into the folds of formal lending.