Chanda and her shooting stars

This is a blogpost by Chanda Jain, a TFI Fellow in Delhi, who is doing something truly remarkable with her “small wonders” in the classroom. Here she introduces you to the shooting stars, as they like to call themselves, and her campaign. We are truly humbled that Chanda chose us to be a part of this beautiful initiative. Support Chanda’s campaign and cheer for her little shooting stars.

Good values are good actions and good words.

‘Can you give me an example of a good value?’

‘Didi if my friend does not have a pencil, I will give her my pencil. I am being helpful.

‘If my bottle falls down and the water is on the floor, and didi scolds the class, I will say didi it is my bottle. I am being honest.’

‘If you are talking, I will say excuse me didi, can you please help me’.

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One year down the road and I began to realize the importance of wording out the good and the bad to my girls. In an environment where 8 year olds hurl the choicest of abuses, fathers gamble under the sun in afternoons and marital fights are everyday affairs, ethics do not constitute a part of their daily life.

I started integrating values into the coursework or narrating stories with morals at the end. It created ripples. I could now refer to the hard-working tortoise who never admitted defeat or the lazy grasshopper who starved through the winters. But we needed more, a bigger cause. Something which would make the students think beyond their immediate community and expose them to the world outside of their homes.

That is when I chanced upon the Rang De website. A social investing site, it aims to lower the cost of micro credit to underserved communities through peer-to-peer lending. I introduced the website in the class along with the concept of savings and investment. What happened next was something even I had not prepared myself for. An open discussion ensued. About the less fortunate. About people striving to fulfil their dreams. About poverty. About propelling yourself out of poverty. And then my girls gave me the answer. They told me they wanted to pitch in.

 

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Now, the class comes forward in droves to drop in a rupee or two into the piggy banks I instructed to bring for the class. They try to do without a packet of chips or that typhoid-on-a-stick chuski sold right outside the school premises. Instead these ten-year olds are religiously putting aside their money so they can make their first collective social investment and help fund a dream.

Some days they pick up the piggy banks and weigh them in their hands to figure out if they have saved a respectable amount. Some days they chide themselves for not having saved enough. And every day, they inspire me.

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With Chanda’s consent we have launched a campaign where our social investors can triplicate the amount these little girls save for Rang De’s borrowers. Lets celebrate these little heroines. Please visit Chanda’s campaign on Rang De to add your contribution

And to keep up with Chanda’s journey as a TFI Fellow please follow her beautiful blog

 

Rang De World Cup Fever

This is a guest post by our young intern and football pundit, Armaan Imam, where he introduces you to Rang De’s FIFA World Cup 2014 campaign

The excitement, the heartbreaks and, above all, the marvelous spectacle of the beautiful game. The 1 month festival. It’s back. It seems like just yesterday, when Andres Iniesta hit the back of the net in the 116th minute in Soccer City in Johannesburg to give Spain their first World Cup triumph. The question is, what are the odds of seeing Andres Iniesta in the final this year? With Ronaldo hitting his prime, and Messi being lackadaisical this year, this World Cup is a tough one to call. On July 13th we will have a new world champion but in the meanwhile we will be treated to high quality football, magical flourishes and nail biting finishes. This World Cup is living up to all the hype so far. High scoring games and only one draw!

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But enough pontificating, here is what I really wanted to talk to you about: Rang De’s World Cup 2014 campaign. Football has its stars, the ones that draw the eyeballs and sign multi million dollars worth of endorsement. But at the end of the day, the game boils down to 11 men against 11 others. The game is about teamwork, the defenders, the midfielders, the forwards, the goal keepers working in tandem. And just like football Rang De is a platform that lets ordinary yet privileged Indians ( like you and I) with different capabilities and wallet sizes to make a difference, together. By providing low income households affordable microloans, you can help a family beat poverty. This month, you can make a difference to the society by combining your passion for football with your love for humanity. All you have to do is make a pledge. A pledge, which could change someone’s life. Visit the campaign page and choose your favourite team and player. Write your pledge and enter your contact details. If your favourite player or team wins or scores as per your expectation, visit Rang De’s website and redeem your pledge. 100% of your pledged amount will be utilized to support Rang De’s borrowers who are in need of affordable microloans to help them overcome poverty. To make it a bit more fun,  get your friends to like your pledge; Rang De will showcase the most popular pledges on the leader board.  There is Rang De merchandise to be won for the most popular, wackiest pledges.

So lets get started ! I am rooting for Argentina. Apart from Team Rang De ofcourse. Who do you support?

My first anniversary as a Rang De team member

This is a post by Raghuchandra, part of Rang De’s tech team, who completes one year with Rang De on June 4th. Raghu firmly believes that technological advancements should be coupled with social good. Support Raghu’s campaign now

We all know that often dating can feel like a lot of work, but occasionally work can seem just like dating.  Hold your horses before you start to outrage, and let me explain what I mean by that. First jobs are usually like your first serious crush, there is a lot of anticipation, some anxiety and sighing involved before she or he agrees to date you. And then you find out that, well, maybe you were more in love with the idea of them. Now I know that lots of people marry their school/ college sweethearts and similarly there are people who spend their entire working years with a particular organization. But the rest of us stumble through multiple crushes, awkward dates before finding someone who feels like home. And in the process we discover our own self.

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When I graduated from my engineering college in 2011 I had my career path laid out for me. It consisted of the following: a job with a start up for a few months (long hours, solid work, on the job learning) followed by a jump to a tech giant for better pay, shorter working hours and annual trips to the US/ Europe.  I spent the first 18 months after graduation with two start ups trying to convince myself that they were exactly what I had dreamt of.  Einstein once described relativity thus “When you are courting a nice girl an hour seems like a second. When you sit on a red-hot cinder a second seems like an hour. That’s relativity.” Those months seemed more like 3 years, and it had absolutely nothing to do with the merit of these organizations. I was dissatisfied because the work that I did had nothing to do with the things that I cared about.

When I came across Rang De I was taken by the work that they were doing. I have to admit I had negligible understanding of microfinance but the simplicity of the idea appealed to me. Anyone could pitch in and help with a minimum investment of Rs 100 and support someone in a transparent manner, but best of all it lend dignity to the borrowers who were all hardworking, proud people born on the wrong side of a town or village perhaps. Rang De introduced me to the idea of “technology for good”, but since then I have seen many examples wherein people are innovating and using technology to improve lives and find solutions to age old problems be it eradication of diseases like TB or polio, improving the quality of education imparted in rural schools or providing affordable microcredit to entrepreneurs in remote locations.

This week, I celebrate my first anniversary at Rang De.  Joining Rang De was a tough decision to make.  Friends and family weren’t too supportive, well wishers told me to think about the future, my own career trajectory. Even today when I see batchmates and juniors earn twice as much as me it gives rise to a fleeting amount of regret. But the belief in what Rang De does, the purpose that it lends to my work and career, the satisfaction that I feel at the end of a long day are well worth the tiny sacrifices along the way.

Coming back to my dating analogy, it may take a little while but if you are lucky your life and love will intersect. But if you are really, really lucky, your work will reflect your life and love.

 

 

 

 

Running on Faith

Two days since the Bangalore10k and we are still recovering from the high (and the niggling injuries). Yesterday, we got an email from the organizers with our official timing and few photographs of us running. Some of us were disappointed, we thought we had run faster, others were pleasantly surprised. And now that the photographs have been shared, timings have been posted, and the pain is a fading memory we thought it would be a good idea to share one more post for the road.

First up, give it up for Sagi, Nishan, Ramya and Asutosh for running for Rang De. You guys are fabulous, a big thank you from the Rang De team for starting campaigns, writing about them, and reaching out to your friends and family. We truly do appreciate it. As of 20th May 2014, we all collectively raised 70,400 for Rang De’s borrowers.

A heartfelt thank you to all our supporters, friends, family and strangers, for believing in us. It got us past our laziness, bouts of stomach flu and aching muscles.

Thank you to all Bangaloreans who sacrificed their Sunday morning and turned up to cheer. Strangers who held up placards in the air and stood on the sidelines giving out free high-fives, uncles and aunties on their morning walk who took a detour and clapped their hands in encouragement, the young girls and boys at the refreshment stands handing out water and peeled oranges, you were all wonderful.

Last but the least we are grateful to the organizers for a job well done (except the finishers medal collection bit, next year separate lines for entry and exit please), to the entertainers: the drummers, the DJs, the dancers etc, to the cleaning crew for not letting us trip and fall on empty water bottles, to the authorities for guiding traffic thus ensuring the safety of the runners and to all participants- it was a honour to run alongside you all. Till next year then!

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The Madness Project

This is a guest post by a Rang De social investor, Siddharth Agarwal. Siddharth is currently studying at IIT Kharagpur, is an amateur photographer and a cycling enthusiast. Here he introduces us to the Madness Project and explains why he chose to support Rang De. We’ll be following his journey across India closely and will be bringing you more highlights from the Madness Project in the coming few weeks.

Welcome, to The Madness Project. A journey from the East to the West Coast of India, being undertaken by two undergraduate students on bicycles, fueled by the zeal to explore ourselves, the desire to understand the complex web of culture in our country and a wish to uplift lives around us. We begin this journey on the 27th of May from Kolkata and aim at reaching Mumbai in a span of 30 days, an approximate total travel distance of 2500 kilometres. I am cycling to raise funds for Rang De’s borrowers while Ujjawal is cycling for Child Rights and You (CRY).

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On a lot of grounds, similarities can be drawn between this project and Rang De. The factors of working at the grass root level, working for the betterment of those who do not have privileges and going all out in the process are just a few of many. I have continuously been inspired by the commitment and efforts of the team at Rang De, here’s a quick tour of how and why.

Beginning with an internship in the summer of 2011, i had the opportunity to observe the working of the company very closely . It was because of the people at the office that i felt so comfortable and was able to deliver, graduating from a fresh intern in the beginning of May 2011 to running the TCS 10K Bangalore Marathon with the team in June 2011. The amount of work outflow, the thought process behind each idea/process and the creativity infused into making the process interactive surely inspired me and put into my mind what an ideal workspace would look like.

The association with Rang De has continued ever since and I’ve worked with them on various platforms, getting to learn a lot at each step and as mentioned earlier, being continuously inspired by the thought and idea behind the working of the organisation. Adding to that, being a social investor has given me a sense of fulfillment and satisfaction in doing my bit towards the society even while i was attending to my tasks at college.

The inception of this project took place a long time ago, but the moment we decided to go huge, the first thought that crossed my mind was to use this opportunity to raise funds for Rang De, and help the society in whatever we can. My conversation with Smita regarding the project is still etched in my mind, the excitement still running through me. The team has been a great support in creating awareness about the project, in setting up the online portal for fund raising and for pushing us further in the project that we’ve undertaken. We hope that we’ll be able to reach our target, rather, surpass it and make a huge impact. Here’s hoping that more of you join us on this journey, not literally on the roads, cycling with us, but in our efforts in helping eradicate poverty in India.

I would also like to take this opportunity to express our gratitude towards CoolAge for having agreed to support our trip through various avenues, and in encouraging us to undertake this task.

“It isn’t an easy task to do, but then, most worthwhile things are not.”

Support the Madness Project | Follow Siddharth on Twitter