Rang De’s New ‘Desi’ Partner – Charaka!

We have recently launched our latest micro venture partnership with Charaka, a women’s co-operative that produces handmade, naturally dyed apparel and provides women with livelihood opportunities in Karnataka. It’s an honour for Rang De to work in partnership with Charaka and support the women in becoming self-reliant. Here’s the story of how it all began! 
 

In a remote village, nestled in the gateway to Western ghats, not too far away from Jog falls, is Bhimanakone. And in this village is an organization that would take you back in time to the days when ‘spinning’ and making ones own clothes was a matter of great pride and self respect.

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Founded to restore these values is Charaka – a women’s co-operative that produces hand made, naturally dyed apparel. The urban consumers in Karnataka who are now familiar with the ‘Desi’ brand of apparel are unaware that this is a result of the hard work and perseverance of hundreds of women in rural Karnataka, now employed by Charaka.

Our first visit to Charaka happened out of sheer curiosity. Being ardent fans of the Desi brand, it was only a matter of time before we questioned who the producers of these handmade apparel were. That led us to connecting with Mr. Prasanna – founder of Charaka which was then followed by a visit to Bheemanakone. We were enchanted by the values and ethics that govern the functioning of the organization.

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Charaka provides the women a respectable livelihood opportunity in an ethically run workplace.The work place is well ahead of many of its urban counter parts and ensures that women and their needs are well taken care of – be it the nutritious meals at lunch time or the creche to take care of their kids. More than 200 women are now employed at Charaka. Their produce finds its way to the urban consumer through the Desi stores across Karnataka.
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The significance of this partnership is to empower the handloom weavers’ community in Karnataka which has been struggling to survive in the industrial era. Both Charaka and Rang De see this as a first- step in providing access to financial support via social investments for the handloom sector. Charaka’s women are in need of assistance for working capital to run their unit efficiently. What better way to support them than through raising social investments for their working capital?

We invite you to join us to support our endeavour to make this weaver community self reliant.

Rang De Borrowers in the apparel sector!

By Diksha Belwal, Rang De Team

Personally I am a big fan of crafts and apparel. Visiting Industree Crafts was thus a fantastic opportunity for me. The units that are currently incubated By ICF will eventually spin off as self-sustaining units. These units are basically into apparels and crafts (like river grass boxes, laundry box, table mats, etc). To reduce the number of middlemen, they have a leader for each and every unit for managing the production as per the orders received.Industreee crafts sources the raw materials like river grass, screw pine, cardboard, zari strips, fabrics, etc from different places all across the country and allocates it to the units as per their demands.

IndusTree Crafts Borrower

The leaders of the units recruit interested people and provide them on job training for 3 months. They call them a Helper. The helpers are trained under the supervision of the leader as per their interest and skills.

They also organise a monthly meeting to know if they have an inventory of raw materials to deliver the upcoming orders in real time. An inventory for one month’s production is always maintained.

The production flow goes on from one person to other as per their specialisation. Eg.The river grass looms are sourced from the units based in Dharmapuri and Krishnagiri which further goes for cutting, stitching and finishing for designing a table mat or a laundry box. After a final screening by the leader, once the product is ready, it has to be transferred to the Industree crafts warehouse. The designs given by the designers of Industree Crafts is the sole property of them. The artisans are not allowed to sell them to others. However, they are free to market the products through other marketing firms as long as the design is different. Presently these units have taken orders from Volvo (for velvet boxes) to market their products.

IndusTree Crafts Borrower

As other SHG’s they too have a saving system in place. Every member of the unit saves some money (Rs.50 or 100) as per their capability which further can be used to provide an internal loan to the members.

To see them happy after getting a loan from Rang De made my trip worthwhile. The leader pooled in the money and utilised it either for sourcing the raw materials, installing a new machine or for purchasing a generator depending upon the need of the groups. They all were grateful for getting just in time working capital loans and at affordable interest rates.

The artisans from ICF are up on our site. View their profiles and invest in them (click the micro-ventures tab after opening the link).

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Rang De Bangalore Sunday Activities

By Sreekanth and Sri Ranganathan  Rang De Bangalore Chapter Members

The Rang De Bangalore Chapter has coordinated with Jaaga, a place that plays host to several activities undertaken by organisations in the social/developmental and arts sectors to use Jaaga as a venue to hold its first (of a series of) information-sharing sessions with the interested general public and of course, Chapter members!

Today (Feb 21, 2010), the first meet will be preceded by the founders of Rang De, Ramakrishna and Smita Ram at 16:00. Kindly RSVP by clicking here as the venue can only hold around forty people.

Sri Ranganathan, member of the Rang De Bangalore Chapter Member writes about the Rang De Bangalore Chapter meet on Valentines Day, the first of meets that he has attended. Ranganathan blogs about social change on his personal blog titled “Keep your coins, I want Change!”.

I was brimming with excitement over meeting the Rang De Bangalore team. When i got to this famous hangout called The Egg Factory at St.Marks Road, i was surprised to see a low turnout.

But that did not dampen our spirits, we got down to business straight away. We discussed key issues with regard to spreading awareness and increasing our volunteer base. After an hour long discussion, we decided on two key agenda’s.

– To establish the Bangalore Chapters as a corporate with designated individuals accounting for their roles and responsibilities

-To focus on one key activity that will aid the Rang De cause in the coming month.

– The second agenda got the 7 members throwing in ideas, we narrowed it down to a painting competition to be organised in schools with theme : Colour the Rang De Logo : A very thought provoking idea generated by Mr. Sreekanth.

The first agenda will take shape over the next couple of weeks as Ms. Archana will formulate the draft for designating individuals in the team.

As for my personal agenda, i have decided to prepare a presentation on rural entrepreneurship which is to be presented in all B-schools and leading institutions to raise awareness and bring in social investments! Excited and looking forward to it!

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Victims of the flood

Who can understand nature and her ways? While we crib and complain about the heat and lack of rain, there is a part of our country that is flooding with excess rain. While our farmers pray to appease the rain Gods, the farmers of the flood affected states are praying that there is an end to the excessive floods.

The recent floods in Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka have left a devastating impact in the lives of thousands of rural farmers and their families. Many rural families have been impacted by this catastrophic event. The experience has been traumatic and very distressing for them.
Floods cost the poor much in terms of damage to houses and property, loss of livestock, and destruction of crops. The poor also pay dearly in terms of ill health, and sometimes loss of life. To add to that, poor people are left to fend for themselves with whatever coping strategies they can muster.

Even though the primary purpose of microfinance is to provide investment capital for micro enterprise development so that clients can grow their income and assets; when catastrophic events like floods occur, a complementary purpose is to assist clients to protect their income and assets from the impact of the crisis.

With their homes gone, rural families have suffered losses to their business assets and may have to suspend their regular income generating activities and hence may default their outstanding payments; a definite setback for rural families who are trying to break the cycle of poverty.

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The flood situation in Kurnool – Update 1

The flooding in the southern states of Karanataka and Andhra Pradesh in the last week has had a tragic impact on the lives of people, especially in the area of Kurnool. Rang De has been working with field partner HOPE in Kurnool to get information about the situation and also support them in the best way possible. It is anyone’s guess that getting accurate information is not going to be easy. Mr. Jaykumar from HOPE in Kurnool and his team have been doing their best to provide us with information.

This is a first hand account of the situation from Mr. Jaykumar:

“Due to the over flow of water in the Karnataka state the water gates of Hospet dam were opened and the water level increase in all Rivers like Tungabhadra , Handri and Krishna. Tungabhadra water entered in to Mantralayam village and due to the heavy inflow the entire area was flooded with water up to 25 to 30 feet on 1st Oct night. The netire region of Mantralayam was very badly destroyed, people have lost everything. Whole town is filled with mud water. We don’t know how many clients and their spouses are alive, their cattle animals are died due to heavy water. At present Hope has 220 clients at Mantralayam out of that 50 clients are Rang De borrowers. We have already started distribution of food in the flood affected areas.

We will send the photographs and Video clips by tomorrow.”

Rang De has informed social investors about the situation and our inability to provide accurate information about the situation. We have had an overwhelming response of support from all our social investors and we are closely working with HOPE. We are grateful to the support of all our social investors. We leave you with a few responses from our social investors:

  • Thank you for updating and keep me updated.I am happy to provide financial support if required.
  • Thanks for the update. I am fine with this. Let the people restore their lives well.
  • I believe that we can extend the return period and avoid interest calculation until normalcy returns.
  • As a first step, I would like to contribute by waiving my share of the loans to flood-affected borrowers. It would be heartless to burden people, who are struggling to survive, with debt obligations. Of course, it is upto Rangde and the field partners to determine eligibility for the waivers.

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