Being a South Asian, I was born in Bengaluru to a family with modest means, but where the ethos of community, family, and karma shaped our daily lives. My parents, products of severe hardship, believed in the age-old Indian philosophy of “Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam” — “the world is one family.” Growing up, they shared tales of adversity, resilience, and the sheer power of the human spirit.
They dreamt of a better world for me, one where opportunities were limitless, and their dream led me to the shores of the United States.
My tryst with fintech began here, where I was privileged to be at the forefront of innovation. But as I navigated the complex world of fintech, I was consistently reminded of the world I left behind — of families like mine, grappling with financial challenges, marginalized and overlooked by the broader system.
A Break to Reconnect
To truly understand their plight, I took a hiatus now that I had overcome my own hardship and was away from this community for a while. I left my cushy life to become a full-time Uber driver, immersing myself in the struggles and dreams of the very community I hailed from.
I realized that many were unable to access basic financial services. Traditional systems had either mislabeled them from a risk perspective or ignored them completely. It was a poignant echo of the values I grew up with: inclusivity, compassion, and community spirit.
Drawing inspiration from my heritage, I envisioned what has now become Beem — an app built along with several members of the South Asian community, that is bridging this chasm. Steeped in South Asian values, the app is more than just a platform; it is a homage to the spirit of our community. The essence of “Dharma” (duty) and “Seva” (service) are its pillars. Coming out of stealth in the Fall of 2021, Beem has been downloaded several million times. It has disbursed over 50 million dollars, aiding those in dire emergencies, and processed over $100 million by the end of 2022. All this was achieved while still being a Seed Stage startup that has not raised any debt or additional funds outside of its Seed rounds.
Beem’s Impact on Lives
But beyond these numbers was the tangible impact on lives — the glow in the widow of a war veteran’s eyes as she was able to bring relief to her youngest daughter dealing with a severe toothache, the relief in a young construction worker’s voice as he secured funds to drive to the next town and earn few extra bucks to make rent, the gratitude of an elderly man whose son could get her insulin shot.
This arduous yet fulfilling journey has been a testament to the timeless values that South Asia, particularly India, holds dear. Our culture champions the spirit of community, where individual success is intertwined with collective welfare. It emphasizes the power of resilience, adaptation, and above all, the sacred duty of giving back.
Celebrating South Asian Heritage
As we celebrate South Asian Heritage Month, I urge you to reflect upon the values that make us unique. They aren’t just cultural touchstones but guideposts for innovation and change. Embrace them, celebrate them, and let them lead the way in whatever venture you undertake.
Together, let’s keep the legacy alive, forging pathways of empowerment, unity, and hope.