A Day with Rang De’s youngest Social Investors

- Madhur Jajoo, Rang De Social Investor and Rang De Pune Chapter Member

A Rang De social investor since December 2011, Madhur Jajoo is also a member of the Rang De Pune Chapter. Madhur accompanied the students of Project Rang De Lives on their first field visit last October and spent a day interacting with the students, Rang De borrowers and our field partner Parvati Swayamrojgar. Here’s his account of the field visit. 

Sometimes in life we learn valuable things from children which we adults seldom put serious thought into. And more often than not, this process leaves us with increased wisdom and conscientiousness. I came across one such inspiring story last year which my made me take a step back and provoked me to ask “How?”

Last year, 19 students of class VII from Abhimanyu Eng. Medium School, Pune raised Rs.900 to invest in Rang De borrowers and became Rang De’s youngest social investors. Rang De borrowers are individuals who apply for a loan to support either their business or their children’s education. The class raised the money from their personal savings (I think it’s important to note that these students belong to middle class families). The story started with their class teacher, Mrs Payoshini Saraf, a Teach for India fellow and Rang De social investor, introducing Project Rang De Lives in her class. She explained the Rang De model to the class and got them thinking by asking them how they can help.


Having made their first social investment in Rang De, the students were interested in interacting with the borrowers and learning how they operated their businesses and in getting answers for the many questions that they had. Their wish was granted by Rang De with its field partner Parvati Swayamrojgar and a field visit was organised in Pune for the students to meet the borrowers. Fortunately, I was part of this trip which allowed me to meet the students and learn from them.

On 4th October, the field visit started with the students visiting the borrowers’ houses at Ghorpade, Pune. These young ignited minds were ready to explore the world and their teacher, ready to teach them chapters outside the syllabus. The students asked a range of questions to every borrower we visitedfrom how they set up a business to financial viability of the business and the challenges that they faced. The kind of questions the students asked, their level of thinking and their curious minds left me amazed. To top it all, the students made hand-made utility gifts like paper envelopes, bags etc. for the borrowers depending on the kind of business they were involved in. These gifts would be of help to the borrowers in their businesses and I was completely astonished by this!


This story of these enthusiastic and affectionate students enriched me in many ways and I hope it will do the same to you as well. These students showed me that age has little to do with empathy, maturity and the ability to make a difference. I also hope more teachers like Mrs Payoshini inspire and guide their students to do something similar to make India a better place.

Project Rang De Lives has invested Rs.3,800 and impacted 19 lives since September 2013. If you would like to explore ‘Empathy in a Classroom’ and introduce Rang De at a school near you, write to us sushmita@rangde.org.

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.


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.

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.

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.