When I read Rashmmi Khetrapal‘s story, it made me replay one thought that ‘all the empowered women have one thing in common, and that is, they have strong fathers who encouraged their daughters to speak up.’ These words seem to hold a lot of relevance to Rashmmi’s life considering how her father was her pillar of confidence.
After being in an abusive marriage for very long, a courageous Rashmmi broke through her shell of dependence to become a successful Chartered Accountant and the Founder of Visheshagya, an e-commerce portal for taxation, legal and accounting consultation.
I went on to contact Rashmmi, and I must tell you, I am very inspired by her.
When did you realize you wanted to become a chartered accountant?
In my school and college days, I was more involved in sports than studies. I did my schooling from Faridabad and finished my graduation in B. Com (Hons.) from Delhi University. After graduating I was confused, I didn’t know what to do with my career, that is when my Principal CA Mr. Aditya Aggarwal guided me & showed me the path to becoming a Chartered Accountant. It was because of his hardcore support that I decided to choose this profession.
Rashmi told me that her father helped her build her career. Her father would be there with her for four hours daily during her professional sports coaching, guiding and motivating her. He taught her that nothing was unachievable.
You’ve talked about choosing a sportsperson from Haryana to be your goodwill ambassador. Is there any specific reason behind choosing someone from Haryana that too from the sports field?
I have been a state gold medalist in athletics for the state of Haryana for many years; that is what makes it more special to have a sportsperson from here as the goodwill ambassador for my portal i.e. Visheshagya. Also after their splendid performance at the Rio Olympics 2016 and making India proud, it will be an honor to have them represent my company globally.
You’ve been in an abusive relationship. How did you find the way out?
I realized that many women like me are taking such abuse in their lives only because either they are not educated or are not financially independent. I can never thank my parents and teachers enough for helping me get educated. Had I not been educated or financially independent, I would not have been able to emerge empowered out of that difficult phase of my life.
What struggles did you face after and during the whole phase of separating from your husband?
Despite being educated, when a woman is going through an abusive marriage she also has to deal with the stereotypical society defaming her. The most important concern during this phase of my life was the well-being of my kids and how they would take the whole idea of me separating from my husband. To my surprise, they were the ones who supported me to take this difficult step and told me not to bear the abuse anymore.
I approached the police where the ACP, who being a woman, was of no help and in turn harassed and abused me; this whole incident left me traumatized. While visiting the court to fight this legal battle, I did not receive much aid from the authorities there.
I was later helped by a retired judge, that is when I realized, it is difficult to get the right advice and other people might face similar problems. Hence through my portal Visheshaygya, I provide instant legal advice through retired judges and senior advocates to anyone in need.
How will Visheshagya help women like yourself?
I can completely understand how hard it is to balance personal and professional life for women. To ease this, my portal Visheshagya also gives more importance to women empowerment, as it is meant for women who are on sabbatical break or want to restart their careers. They can work from anywhere in the world by just signing up on the website and reaching out to a huge number of clients.
I truly believe in PM Modi’s ideology Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao. Except I want to add that “Beti kosar utha ke jeene bhi do” (let your daughter live with her head held high). With the government’s support more startups like ours shall get an opportunity to help these educated women.
You have an all-women staff. Do you have any special facilities for your women employees, especially mothers?
Yes, we do. We give an opportunity of restarting one’s career after the sabbatical break, now even during sabbatical break women can continue to work from anywhere in the world for smaller durations and be in touch with the current laws in place.
We also provide them with flexible working hours in order to maintain a balance between work and their family life. They can simply log in from their home and start giving consultation to the clients on any Tax or Legal matters by turning their laptops into their Virtual Offices.
Many talented and educated women are sitting at home, especially in villages and small towns, who are not allowed to go out to work. With Visheshagya they can now work from home and can be financially independent.
How long did it take to put Visheshagya into working?
It all started when I decided to get out of my abusive marriage. I felt harassed and defeated by the whole situation and decided to shift to Dubai.
One evening while talking to my kids over a cup of coffee, I realized that I did not want to leave my clients. I was missing my work! CAs have a hectic schedule and not enough holidays. I realized that there are also not enough clients for CAs. Vishesh who was the in-charge of the entire R&D of the product came across the fact that both males and females go through the same issues. That’s when my elder son, Nilesh came up with this idea of introducing an online platform for white collar professionals.
That night, Rashmi did not get any sleep as she kept thinking of the idea that could help make life easy for women suffering the same fate as hers. Hence, she came up with the idea of Visheshagya. Both her sons Nilesh Khetrapal and Vishesh Khetrapal have been equally involved in the whole process of bringing up Visheshagya.
How do you spend your time with your children?
We like to watch movies together, go swimming and play golf. We are big foodies and love trying out new restaurants. We like to chill out at home often.
Do you give finance lessons to your kids as well?
I started talking to my children about making wise investments, tax savings at the right age. My elder son wants to buy a car when he turns 18 years old, so I asked him to invest in gold coins. Now every year for his birthday I gift him a gold coin, which he can continue to save for the future. My younger son does the same. At this age, it is better to make them understand by giving them real life examples rather than giving them a theoretical explanation.
Your website says that drafting a will with Visheshagya will become easier. How?
It is an effortless process where one needs to register himself/herself as a client on our portal. You just need to take out 30 minutes of your time and get instant consultation via Audio/Video. You can explain your requirements and specifications regarding the will to the Expert. The draft of the document has been uploaded to the E-locker facility provided on the portal, and the final draft will be couriered to the address provided by the client.
What problems can one’s family face if they haven’t registered?
It is necessary for every individual to make a will, to ensure when he/she dies his assets would then be divided with his selected nominees. We offer instant consultation on any such matters and help them get resolved efficiently and timely. Getting your will drafted in time can protect you and your family from any legal disputes relating to property or assets that could arise in the future.
Is the finance industry gender-biased?
I believe that the situation for a male CEO and female CEO is different. The woman has to go home and cater to the needs of the family while the male CEO can indulge in social networking even after spending long hours at work. Although, I was lucky enough to not face this restriction at all.
I am also grateful to the Chartered Accountants of Gurgaon for being so supportive in electing me as the first Chairperson of Gurgaon Branch of NIRC of ICAI in 2009-2010 and for making me the first lady to be elected to the NIRC Council of ICAI in 2010-13. They have supported me throughout. I feel privileged enough to have achieved new heights by putting in 16 years of my life’s hard work.
Three mantras to leading a financially successful life?
Save money on your goals.
There is no specific mantra to be financially successful; for some mutual funds may prove to be beneficial for others maybe FD’s or investing in gold. Therefore one should not copy others and always take the advice of a tax expert to reach the desired goal.
Also, never forget to live and enjoy the present and not worry too much about the future.
A piece of advice for aspiring CA’s?
I would like to tell them that, they have chosen the right profession. It is a highly respected profession throughout the world. While you have entered into this profession, you shall not be regarded as a male or a female but only as a ‘Chartered Accountant.’
The best investment you can make is always in yourself. It will always be worth it
What is your favorite movie about money?
Movies having some connection to contracts and/or investments catch my attention. Especially movies like Raju Chacha and Beta emphasizing on the need for making a will. Also, the movie Avtaar based on the subject of work after retirement truly inspired and motivated me.
What can one find in your wallet?
Photographs of my two boys
1 Credit Card
Lots of cash
Lastly, one advice you would like to give to your 20-year-old self? And what would you advice 20-something women of today?
20-year-old me – Nothing in this world is unachievable or unattainable, if you set your mind to something you shall be able to achieve the same, doesn’t matter if you are a boy or a girl.
20-year-old girls – Never let anybody tell you that you are not capable enough.