How did you think of building a career in this direction and what were your challenges at that point in time? I'm sure it must not be a cakewalk for you. So I guess it'd be good for our audience to know about your personal journey so far.
I worked in financial services, financial inclusion all my life. I joined the ICICI from campus and I Did my first master's from NIRMA, the Institute for rural management. In the two years I had done an internship with Vijay Mahajan in B6 and was at that point as a 21-year-old, already fairly convinced that there is great power in financial services. And particularly for me, what stayed with me was there is a certain dignity. In rural areas for people, the issue is not capability. The issue is that often there are not tools to manage Risk. It is a, there is no access to capital and rather than preach about, what you should do with your life, the best we can do is to make those tools available.
So I've always been really attracted to that idea of finance, as providing the tools to you to do whatever you want. I am not going to judge. What is good for you or not. So I joined ICICI and was part of the team. It was a great time to join the bank. Cause the bank itself was, in 2001, starting to, getting to the rural market and the agriculture. I was part of the team that built the microfinance business, with ICICI and all with a really amazing team. Later it became clear that we need a lot more business models, experimentations. ICICI was a real pioneer, in terms of what they were willing to do. But at the end of the day, as a large bank, the multiple priorities, RBI is breathing down their neck about what they can do cannot do. And it felt like, there is a need for much more, just, fundamental redesign. So we actually set up the Dwara, with initial capital and support from ICISI. So it's a much easier entrepreneurial journey, relative to many others.
And so the challenges for us were not so much at our capital, but it was much more around the kind of getting our thought process right. Getting started, and it would see continued challenges that are aligning on these big ideas, and mission with what we achieved on the ground.
How do we make sure that we get investors? we were lucky to get ICICI as the original investor but as finance is a capital intensive business. We now serve about a million 0.2 customers and we've done multiple rounds. It's not always been easy to find, partners who kind of aligned to this notion because everybody wants to go back to the familiar, let's do the product you. That's, scalable, look at the microfinance industry, they're fantastic ROEs, what are you guys now trying to sit in, re-invent this, and so on. So our challenges have been much more around making sure that you find kind of the right kind of alignment work internally as well as externally.