Microcredit in a Classroom: Project Rang De Lives
Payoshni Saraf, Rang De Social InvestorPayoshni Saraf is a Rang De Social Investor and a Teach for India Fellow who teaches Grade 7 in an underprivileged school in Pune. She recently introduced Project Rang De Lives in her class which will soon make these seventh graders Rang De’s youngest social investors! Here’s their story.
What happens when you ignite a young mind?
What happens when you make them look beyond their comfort zone?
What happens when you challenge them to a greater good?
What happens when you make them learn the power of sacrifice?
A small fire is lit.
Flickering but steady .
Unsure of itself first, but braving the winds nevertheless.
I can see this little brave flame in my class. I saw the matches strike each other and create small sparks when I first discussed Rang De in class and the work that Rang De and its many social investors do together. How small savings from many people are pooled together to eradicate India’s monstrous problem of POVERTY.
Is poverty new to us? I asked them. They said NO. Does giving that occasional coin to the beggar going to solve it? They said NO. Giving donations to temples and churches going to help us? They said NO, God is too busy anyway. So can we all together do something? That, set them thinking.
Our Vision for Project Rang De Lives is “Together WE will make a difference!”
You discount us because we are children, because we come from lesser privileged backgrounds, because you underestimate the power of teamwork or the power of us saving our ice cream and pani puri money and investing it in a business.
We rose to the challenge. The class divided itself into smaller groups of 3s and 4s. We had started maintaining an Income-Expenses and Savings register since summer vacations so the concept was not alien. We just now knew how to utilize these savings better.
The groups got themselves names, logos, posters and shared responsibilities and working titles for all its members. Somebody became an accountant, somebody a treasurer. They fixed a achievable and modest target for their savings (threshold being Rs.100/-) and also worked out an algorithm for how much to save weekly to reach the monthly target or how to save it (no asking money from parents, but not buying that small pack of chips and saving Rs,5/- that way). They invested their family and friends in the venture. We were ready to roll now.
On September 2nd, we make our first social investment. We invest in entrepreneurs from Pune, who need finance for their business ventures, from vegetables vendors to bangle sellers.We will also go and visit them and see for ourselves how our little savings have been utilized and helped the business. We will learn tips and tricks of business from them and experience the joy of entrepreneurship.
Because together, we will make a difference!