SEBI chairperson Madhabi Puri Buch said on Friday that the regulator is working with the mutual fund industry to make it viable for the latter to offer systematic investment plans, or SIPs, of as low as ₹250 per month. This will allow greater participation in MFs from the bottom of the pyramid, and is in keeping with the market regulator’s objective of greater financial inclusion.

“This will be similar to what Hindustan Unilever did with the shampoo sachet,” said the SEBI chief, on the sidelines of an event honouring women achievers.

Currently, SIPs as low as ₹100 are offered by a few fund houses but ₹500 is the minimum SIP size offered by many. 

Buch highlighted that the Indian market had become resilient because of the retail money flowing in through the MF and direct route.”When money became expensive foreign money left our shores. But our market was resilient because of the retail money that came in. Our share in the global indices went up, and the foreign investors who had left India had to come back.”

She said the gender issue was important to the country, which is why the regulator’s core BRSR metrics focussed on two gender metrics: The percentage of the company’s payroll cost that goes to women and the POSH complaint. “Do I think that a dozen or two dozen privileged women like me being on a dozen boards each is going to cut it for our country? Absolutely not. We would like to see gender equality manifest down the line, to more and more key managerial personnel. Simply parachuting a person to the top and ignoring the bottom wont work,” Buch said.

She gave the example of a company with a factory set up in a tier 4 town that had built a hostel for its women employees to ensure their safety. Eighty per cent of the employees working at the factory are women and efforts like these were far more important than the tokenism of putting two more women on the board, said the SEBI chief.

Buch said that her effort going forward would be to institutionalise some of the changes that has been brought about at SEBI in the past few years: “Public accountability and entrepreneurial spirit is what I have tried to bring in at SEBI. After I demit office, even if 60-65 per cent of what has been created stays and is institutionalised I would be delighted.”