Dear Women Business Owners and Supporters,
I was lucky enough to be raised in a household of full gender equality, where my sisters Melissa and Paola always went first, and my mom Tammy and my dad Eduardo contributed equally to the household. Growing up like this was the biggest blessing anyone could have wished for, and until age 19 I honestly didn’t know anything different even existed. But all of this changed one February morning of early 2014. I was able to attend the Youth Assembly at the UN as a representative of my country, Mexico, and the topic for the first session was “Gender Inequality around the world”… I still remember the shock I felt leaving the great general assembly hall. It became apparent for the first time in my life that the world didn’t work like my house did. It was astonishing to face the fact that outside of my bubble, women were being limited and not being treated nor considered equally just on account of their gender. I was terrified by the thought that I could potentially get better paid than my sister Melissa for the same position, or get better credit opportunities than my sister Paola with equal qualifications. This wasn’t something remote, it was happening right here, right now in the US, and in every other single country in the world. What I was also heavily disturbed about, was that people didn’t realize that by limiting women, we were limiting us all, both as a society and humanity.
Since that day, I decided to make it my life mission to fight for gender equality and women empowerment. I immediately founded the NGO, Young Minds for Gender Equality, campaigning globally to empower the youth to become present day leaders for a gender equitable future. This led me towards my second venture on a journey for equality. Being a young man I realized that there were too few of us working for this goal that would benefit us all, and while women talking to women around the world had and were achieving tremendous victories, it still wasn’t enough. Inequality was persistent -- and we needed to change the paradigm. In May of 2014, I was enormously blessed to be invited by Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Under-Secretary General of the UN and Executive Director of UN Women, to help her and her extraordinary team build, develop and implement a solidarity movement for gender equality, where one half of society joined in support of the other half, for the benefit of all. After many months of hard work, the HeForShe campaign was launched, and until now the words that our great Goodwill Ambassador Emma Watson said, continue to resonate with me… “If not me who? And if not now when?”. I realized that even if I was a young man that had never felt the haltering effects of gender based discrimination in my own skin, I needed to do something very concrete in support of the billions of women that faced this every day.
After generating over 1.4 billion impressions over the first two gender equality projects I was privileged to help lead, I realized that the awareness of the issue was at its peak, and that it was imperative to move towards concrete action. Gender inequality is very broad, covering a vast range of topics, from the most unthinkable such as gender based violence to some of the most absurd, like the cultural and political discrimination of women. But among them I realized that there was one pillar of gender equality that could help advance all of the rest: The economic empowerment of women, and by pursuing it we could help achieve not only gender equality, but sustainable development for all; this was the economic empowerment of women. That is why I created Arora , along with my mom and my best friend, with the mission of empowering women to thrive financially. After a lot of hard work and thousands of conversations with women business owners, and their supporters, I realized that there are 3 major critical issues among others that need to be solved immediately.
Financial Illiteracy – According to the Wall Street Journal 78% of women are considered financially illiterate. And this is not on account of them not trying or wanting to learn, as 92% of them share that they are eager to learn more about finance. But, rather on account of the lack of free or accessible comprehensive options for a personal and business financial education. Only 4 out of 50 states in the US require that high school students take financial literacy, and even if you are privileged enough to go to college, most degrees do not require nor teach business or personal financial education. And the reality is that regardless of the business line you are in, or the title or position you have, and even –or perhaps more importantly- if you don’t currently have a job, financial literacy is one of the most critical languages you can learn. it is essential to survival in today’s complex environment, and necessary to thrive in a competitive and globalized business world.
A lack of properly targeted and accessible tools for personal and business money management – Studies show that 1 out of 3 women loses sleep over their finances. This is almost never in account of them being in a poor financial situation, but rather it is caused by the over-crowding of financial products and the confusion over Wall St and big bank products, that makes it nearly impossible for women - or anyone in that regards – to keep their finances in order without the right tools and help. Financial education by itself isn’t enough. It needs to be complemented with proper tools, so once you have that education, you can put your finances, dreams and goals in order and stay on track.
A massive and persistent gender-lending gap - Data from IFC-Mckinsey points to the existence of a staggering $360 billion dollar lending gap. This in essence means that women that are qualified for credit and need the loans are unable to get them either because of gender discriminatory policies and practices, or intimidation to even apply for a loan resulting from fear of the long process and/or rejection. The reality is, banking and finance was created for men by men, and women have always needed to adapt. Now, it is urgent that more conscious women and men create increasingly accessible, user friendly and efficient methods of funding, as the gender lending gap is feeding into the greater $2 trillion dollar lending gap small businesses face, as more than 200 million businesses around the world are unable to get the credit they need.
The good news is that the world is changing. With technology and globalization, finance must inevitably go through a process of democratization, where pioneering companies like Arora, take the time to really understand its users on all senses, and create products and platforms that can take down the gendered walls of financial inequality, and empower everyone to have equal financial freedom and opportunity. And that’s why Arora was founded, and is being launched on this Women Entrepreneurship Day; to empower women to thrive financially.
In brief, arora.gives is a centralized platform designed to simplify women business owners’ financial life, giving them and their supporters, access to free, transformative and user-friendly resources. You don’t need to self identify as a woman to use any of our tools and resources. We understand that gender is not binary, and every single corner of our platform and heart is open for everyone and all.
Some of the highlights on how we are tackling the financial gender gap are by offering:
The first free comprehensive financial literacy course designed for women business owners certified by the National Financial Educators Council. Arora-Ed will be crucial in eradicating the biggest challenge to equal economic empowerment that women face; financial illiteracy.
A free money management tool where women can set their budgets, monitor their cash flow, see all of their accounts at the same place and get bill reminders. In doing so, we are helping women take control over their personal and business finances.
Access to credit for up to $500,000 for women business owners delivered to their accounts in 1 to 3 days with no collateral required. Cutting through the gender lending gap and helping women business owners and their supporters make their dreams a reality, and further their goals.
We are on the verge of rewriting history by entering into an era of full financial empowerment and gender equality, but to achieve this we need YOU. We invite you to enroll in the Arora-Ed course, develop your financial skills, and move towards the lifestyle you desire and deserve for yourself and your family. We encourage you to leverage the free tools that Arora-Wallet has at your disposal so you can set your goals and exceed them, creating a bright financial future. We ask you to know that if you want to start and/or grow your business, you can count on us as supporters and partners that will help you find the financing you require to transform your own life, and positively affect the lives of so many of others.
We also need you to help us learn and grow along this journey so we can constantly create tools, resources and campaigns that better serve you. This is more than a company, it’s a movement. Invite your friends, ignite your networks and keep on inspiring us along with the rest of your supporters, so that together we can help co-create the world we want. A world that is equally powered by women.
With sincere love, gratitude and hope.
President and Co-Founder of Arora
Feel free to watch my TEDx talks to learn more about my journey.