- Sowmya Nandan, Rang De Chief Impact Officer
Rang De’s Chief Impact Officer recently returned from her first field visit to Pusad, Maharashtra and brought back with her inspiring stories of our borrowers and field partner, SAGRAS. Here’s a look at the field visit that left her short of words.
Every field visit has a different learning scenario and my last field visit to Pusad to meet our field partner SAGRAS (Samagra Gram Vikas Sanstha) had a lot of lessons to teach me! The lessons began even before I set foot in Pusad. The five hour road trip from Nagpur to Pusad opened my eyes to how the apartment culture is encroaching everywhere, not just the cities. Sanju, the person who driving me around informed me that the property prices in Nagpur were almost equivalent to Bangalore. One of the most talked about aspect after every SAGRAS visit is the ever popular ‘Bhakti’ hotel and its Maharashtrian food. Rang De Team members had explicitly given me instructions that I should not miss the bhindi sabji and dal. I promptly ordered it for my first meal and it continued to be my ritual for the rest of my stay.
The experience to SAGRAS was an extremely humbling one. It was heartening to see how closely knit most of the SAGRAS team members were with the community. Every person in the community recognized them and warmly exchanged pleasantries. It’s a rare scenario to see that our Field Staff share such a great rapport with our borrowers. The entire field audit was carried out flawlessly. The tracker sheet I had carried had all the borrower details – however, Mahatreji and Nagaraoji had the database in their minds. As soon as we arrived the community, women flocked together and had already put a beautiful Rangoli and adorned the God with beautiful flowers and lamps. It was emotionally difficult for me to relate to the fact that most of these women who had gathered came from low income groups, yet their gesture was unconditional. They had made beautiful bouquet of flowers and got chai and snacks from one of our borrowers shops.
I would like to applaud how Bhangeji, the founder of SAGRAS has consciously given employment to 2 members who are specially-abled. The entire SAGRAS team members has been working for about 10 years and this decade of experience gives Rang De a lot of community intelligence. I believe that no management book can teach the stuff we can pick from these communities. They are not looking at taking calculated risk, but also think about the future and have alternate plans in place – their energy and soul is put towards making the IMPACT!
By Smita Ram, Rang De Team
Grace, passion, strength, sacrifice, resilience ..I run short of words when I try and describe what a woman embodies. Personally, it disturbs me to see women being denied opportunities based on gender. I have seen and experienced us women losing out on opportunities – be it economic, social, physical or emotional and it saddens me. But I do not see this changing unless many of us begin to question such situations. In fact I see these denial of opportunities becoming a norm which could be detrimental.
As far as Rang De goes, this women’s day definitely belongs to the women entrepreneurs and their enterprising spirit. Here are a few women who I have met during my journey at Rang De. Their passion and attitude to life re-ignited that spark in me.
Fahim: An entrepreneur in Pusad, Yavatmal. We met her during an evaluation trip. She makes candles and sells them for a living. Farheen hails from a muslim community and for her venturing into a business activity was a big, bold step. She started in a small way at home and has gone on to expand her business. When we interviewed her and asked her about the challenges, she said, ‘now that people see me earning and contributing to the family income, people look at me with a lot of respect.’ A true achiever – I felt
Waheeda Rehman: The legendary actress as we all know her is an awe inspiring lady – not just for her accomplishments in her acting career, but for the loads of passion she has in her. She is passionate about the environment and about bringing a change in the society and is willing to walk that extra mile to do her bit. Simply inspiring, I felt.
Farheen and Waheedaji are just two of the women out of the many who have influenced me. What we are trying to do at Rang De is to provide economic opportunities by way of microcredit which is one kind of empowerment. We see ourselves as change agents who could play a catalytic role through other initiatives such as mentoring and providing access to markets. I would like to invite each one of you, especially all you women out there to experience what it feels like to become part of the Rang De journey.
Let’s celebrate and enjoy womanhood. Let’s fight those little and bigger battles so that equality prevails at the end of the day.
Mumbai is a city known to be full of life and we just realised nothing can be more true than this. The Rang De Mumbai chapter has taken off and we are completely thrilled about it. Mitesh one of our social investors took the initiative to get a few friends together and what started off as an informal group is now
in full swing. A whole load of activities have been lined up by the Mumbai chapter. Some of them are:
1) Volunteering at the Start up City Event in Mumbai – for the first time Rang De volunteers will be managing a full fledged stall on their own
2) Rang De Friends’ meet – an informal get together of everyone who cares about Rang De and want to participate actively.
3) An evaluation trip – trip to Nagpur or Pusad – to meet borrowers of Rang De and meet with our field partners
4) One corporate event featuring Rang De
Phew…there is quite a lot happening out there!! If you are in Mumbai and want to be part of this exciting and vibrant group, just drop an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you are not in Mumbai and want to start a chapter in your own city, then write to us too!