When India demonetized in 2016, Vaibhav Lodha saw a huge challenge for his digital banking social enterprise ftcash: how would he inspire his sales team to share his organizational vision in the midst of a high-pressure, high-stakes response to a national crisis?
Vaibhav recognized that if his entire team understood the scope of the issue and recognized how badly this crisis would affect their underprivileged communities, the organization could considerably help the situation. But first, everyone needed a common narrative of what was happening politically, how cash-dependent merchants were being negatively impacted and how ftcash’s services could impact the community. Demonetization gave Vaibhav an opportunity to apply what he had learned in Philanthropy U’s Storytelling for Impact course.
Vaibhav knew that effective storytelling has three essential aspects: the story of You, the story of Us, the story of Now. Vaibhav used his personal narrative, witnessing his family struggle to pay for basic medical testing in a cash economy, to connect with his sales team’s own experiences. He motivated them to act in tandem and toward the common goal of helping small businesses and merchants be able to collect digital payments. Because of his ability to craft a compelling narrative, his team was able to empathize and act with a sense of transformational urgency.
Stories, Vaibhav believes, have an element of emotion that makes a dry subject like financial inclusion a lot more relatable, thereby increasing the chances that the services his organization provides will impact the people who need it most. Vaibhav’s salesforce outperformed their goals and even exceeded Vaibhav’s expectations. They received the Presidential Award at an event called Pitch@RB (Rashtrapati Bhawan) and, that same day, IvyCap Ventures signed a $1 million contract with ftcash to continue carrying out its mission to bring digital financial services to the people who need it most.
Misunderstanding, underperforming sales and the risk of failing his community at the very moment when political and historical forces rendered his services most vital—all of these potential negative consequences were avoided, due to the kind of impactful storytelling practices Vaibhav learned from Philanthropy U’s course. A relatively new social enterprise faced a tremendous opportunity to do good in the midst of a national crisis, and Vaibhav emerged as a confident storyteller, able to transform ideas into impactful results.