ApEx Series | Women on the stock market: the more the merrier
The Securities Board of Nepal (SEBON), the securities market regulator, does not have exact data on women investing in the stock market.
According to Nepal Stock Exchange Limited (NEPSE), there are about 3.4 million registered users on the “MeroShare” website, that is, they can apply for an Initial Public Offering (IPO ) from any online business. NEPSE also reports that nearly 925,000 users are registered in the Transaction Management System (TMS), which allows users to trade, mainly online.
Yet officials of these organizations contacted by ApEx largely agree that about 25 percent of all investors in the primary market are women, while the corresponding ratio is 15 percent in the secondary market. Even though the number is much smaller than that of men, it is increasing.
Many Nepalese women are full-time investors who monitor the movements of the NEPSE index on their cellphones or laptops all day.
Sushila Dahal, 41, has now been a regular investor in the Nepalese stock market for a decade and says she is not interested in any other work. In 2011, she had around one million rupees but didn’t know what to do with it. “At first, I thought about starting a business,” she says. This was before his uncle introduced him to the stock market. She has seen many ups and downs in the market during this period, but she is still holding on with a portfolio of Rs 6.5 million.
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Bindu Singh, 47, shares his experience entering the equity market in 2013: “My neighbor, a senior manager at Nepal Rastra Bank, advised me to invest. Full-time employee of an NGO, she had at the time some savings that she decided to invest in shares, and she currently has a portfolio of more than Rs 10 million. Singh devotes time to his job each day to keep abreast of market fluctuations.
Since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic in early 2020, many young women, with little else to do, have jumped on the equity market bandwagon. In fact, the appeal to young people has grown steadily since.
Sarishma Kafle, who is only 19, was one of them. His whole family has decent investments which was enough motivation not only to start investing but also to join a brokerage house. During the lockdown lull, Kafle began by investing his mother’s money. She has already accumulated a wallet of over one million rupees. “Since I started working in a brokerage house, I have become an ever better investor and I benefit a lot from it”, she shares while recounting her one year experience in the bear roller coaster. Taurus.
There are women who invest some of the money their husbands send from abroad, which has been a successful business for many.
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“I invest a fraction of the money my husband, who works in Qatar, sends for household expenses,” says Rama Nepal, 36, who entered the market after it launched online in late 2018. She initially kept its equity investments secret. about her husband and not let him know until she started making a profit. “We are both happy now and my husband sends extra money for investment whenever I ask,” Nepal shares.
Samyukta Bhandari, 29, was pursuing her MBA in 2016 when she embarked on equity investing, which was part of her academic mission. Now she has amassed a portfolio of nearly Rs 7 million. She says the start of online trading has been a boon for female investors. “Some women invested even before that. But e-commerce was an innovation because it removed many of the traditional barriers that prevented women from investing in stocks, ”she says.
In order to attract more women to the equity market, the International Finance Corporation (IFC), a member of the World Bank Group, is working with NEPSE. The aim is to raise awareness of gender equality in finance, as part of a campaign called “Ring the bell for gender equality”.
According to an IFC report, of the 132 board members of 20 Nepalese companies, only 12 (nine percent) are women. Despite Nepalese Company Law 2066 BS requiring at least one woman on the board of directors, only three in ten SOEs have women on their boards.
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Dambar Chemjong, head of the central anthropology department at Tribhuvan University, is delighted that more and more women are going public. “The stock market helps move capital and keeps the economy buzzing,” he says. “The involvement of more women, who represent more than half of the country’s population, will ensure a more equitable distribution of this capital.
Shreejana Subedi, executive member of the Nepalese Investor Forum, calls on women to be more confident and invest in the equity market. For her, women are natural savers; they tend to be medium risk and only invest on the basis of solid market research. “This ultimately offers higher returns even though the equity market is seen as a high risk area,” she adds. “Rather than working for others, more and more women should seek to become self-reliant in this way. “
Swechha Shrestha, chartered accountant at Banque Everest, suggests some caution, however. “A lot of my friends, including myself at times, like to follow a so-called market specialist and invest blindly, which is definitely unwise,” she says. “Investing in the stock market can be a good source of income for women as long as they learn to do it wisely. “