By Valsala Menon
There are very few of us who have not been accosted with a financial emergency at some point of time in our lives. And for most of us, we have access to banks and financial services to bail us out. For instance, we can avail of a loan, or swipe our credit cards. But, what about the vast majorities in our country, who do not have even a bank account to their names?
This is where India’s first online micro lending platform Rang De steps in. They enable lending money to low income households in the country. Here’s how they operate. Anyone of us can participate in microcredit and help make a difference to the underprivileged millions in our country, by registering at www.rangde.org , log in and lend as little as Rs 100/- to the borrower of our choice.
Based at Chennai, Rang de has 18 field partners across ten states, namely, Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Karnataka, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Orissa, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh. This micro credit financing enterprise was set up by Ram NK and Smita Ram in 2006, and together, they have helped hundreds of low income entrepreneurs to find their working capital needs.
Rang de offers the ability to connect the lender with the borrower directly. What’s more, there are umpteen number of opportunities for social investors and entrepreneurs to interact with each other through field trips and audio evaluations. These prove to be massive life changing experiences, for both social investors and the micro entrepreneurs alike.
Rangde.org has also opted to partner with a number of micro financing institutions and NGO’s in order to help identify and screen borrowers at the grassroots level. These MFI’s and NGO’s alike find and post profiles of prospective borrowers or micro entrepreneurs on the website. Since a lot of such profiles are available on the site, a lender or social investor can log on to the website, and allot either a part or the entire loan amount to the borrower of one’s choice. Once the amount is raised, the involved MFI or NGO receives the money and disburses it to the borrower. Interestingly enough, the investor can keep a track of the progress made by the borrower online.
CEO Ram NK aims to reach out to the neglected geographies of the country. He wants to serve people who are not just at the bottom of the financial pyramid, but also those striving to survive ‘under the pyramid’. Most micro financing institutions are reluctant to lend to such people due to the sheer dearth of short term money generation capabilities but Ram steadfastly believes that investing with such people would help to create social value in the long term.
“The idea behind starting Rangde was to create a sustainable initiative that will help address problems at the grassroots level and also be a step towards eradicating poverty. Our field partners are nonprofit organizations who also believe in Rangde’s mission to reach out to the truly undeserved. We provide small loans to low income households and individuals to help finance a micro enterprise like live stock rearing, tailoring, and opening a grocery store and so on. These enterprises help poor households to become self reliant and extricate themselves from the clutches of poverty.”
Each of us can do our little bit to lift the masses out of poverty. Just log on to www.rande.org and become a social investor. Make an investment of as little as Rs. 100, if that is all you can afford to lend. At the end of the repayment schedule, you, as an investor, also receive a 2 percent interest on your investment. More than the returns, you would be surprised at the deep gratitude and contentment you feel, at having decided to make a difference in the lives of these micro entrepreneurs. Isn’t that ample returns?
A writer by profession, a journalist by intuition and an author by passion. Has worked with several start-ups and acclaimed magazines and dailies and has explored several beats of writing. Formerly Associate editor, Ability Foundation, Adyar, and also Associate editor, Eves Times, a citizen centric magazine. Regular contributor to the Chicken Soup series, with work published in many. Currently penning down her first novel, she is always game for challenges in the literary space. Drop a mail : email@example.com
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