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.

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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!

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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 at Mood Indigo 2009 – Lessons learnt the hard way

By Arvind Sridharan, Rang De Blogger

After immense preparation and a extremely long train delay on the way to Mumbai, the Rang De Mood Indigo team was discussing where to place standee banners, posters, and people in the IIT Bombay campus. While all this was happening on the ground, the #rangdemi09 twitter campaign was being launched online. The team was all set to go and get Rang De’s social investor count and experience user count ticking.

A view of the Rang De Mood Indigo 2009 stall.  Thanks to ivolunteer who put up with all our noise and shared the stall with us.
A view of the Rang De Mood Indigo 2009 stall. Thanks to ivolunteer who put up with all our noise and shared the stall with us.

Day 1 was an early start as the stall had to be set up for the first time. Volunteers and team members spread across the campus and campaigns started taking off. About 3 people made a social investment of Rs. 100 within the first 10 minutes of campaigning.

However, by early afternoon, we realised that our strategy wasn’t effective as 1) Very few people were motivated to make social investments even though we had many compeitions in place with good prizes and 2) We didn’t have mics and a lot of energy was being used to talk while battling the noise from the other stalls. Now we had to change strategy. It was time to open up one of our games and as there were already a lot of games going on in other stalls, we chose a unique one: golf. The game was simple: put the ball into a hole in three hits or less and you get a t-shirt. There were a few takers for it but there was no crowd.

We tried various activities over the next three days such as promoting our referral, poster design and t shirt design competitions and auctions but the only thing that took off was our trademark “knock out poverty punching bag contest”. People either had to pay a registration fee of Rs. 30 or make a social investment to participate in the contest. The person that punched the most in 30 seconds in a group of ten won a T-shirt. Most people paid up the registration fee even though we explained to them that they will get the Rs. 100 social investment back over a year. Once a round of the contest started, all it took was some talking using the mic-speaker system we hired to mark our presence in the stall area for the momentum to pick up. About 5 rounds of the knock-out contest took place on each day.

ang De team members and Mumbai chapter members conclude the first day of campaigning after gathering stationery for the second day of the Mood Indigo 2009 campaign.
Rang De team members and Mumbai chapter members conclude the first day of campaigning after gathering stationery for the second day of the Mood Indigo 2009 campaign.

We also got people who were interested in volunteering from cities such as Jaipur, Pune and Mumbai itself. Hats off to Nishant, a research fellow at IIT Bombay who got straight to work after making his social investment by helping out with the stall. Some of our Mumbai Chapter members had also come down to help out on various days. Many thanks to them for their support.

Even though we didn’t get as many social investors as we desired in Mood Indigo 2009, we learnt lessons the tough way. Some of them were:

A mass-campaign of this sort is out of our current capacity in terms of finance and manpower

A student cultural festival isnt’t the right place for a Rang De campaign

Campaigning for a long stretch is not effective. Short campaigns that last a few hours are the best, otherwise the enthusiasm and energy go low exponentially over time.

However, our preparation efforts have not been wasted. We have prepared competitions that can be run individually anywhere. Some examples are:

  • The Rang De Micro-business Plan Contest – the actual Rang De experience of raising loans and running a small business can be conducted at technical festivals in engineering college or in business schols.
  • Design contests can be run in design schools or in technical festivals.
  • A twitter campaign can be run anytime in parallel to our offline campaign to create online buzz.
  • Our games can be used in carnivals or melas as a fundraiser, where the funds can be added to the Rang De’s corpus of funds.
  • And Last but not least, we have discovered that our “knock out poverty punching bag contest” is a hit anywhere anytime.

Finally, we thank the participants of our #rangdemi09 twitter campaign and congrats to those that won T-shirts and to our mood indigo social investors welcome aboard RangDe.Org.

Rocking music, thrilling events, tantallising moves, and now microcredit!

By Smita Ram, Rang De Team
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A simple logo designed by Vibhore – Vice President, Strategy

Says the official Rang De poster for the Mood Indigo event. Who would have thought that one of the biggest Cultural fests in Asia would have anything to do with microcredit? Well, even we were not sure that the organisers of Mood indigo would let us be associated with it. But it turned out the other way round. Finally we are officially associated with the event with just one clear objective – To talk to people about something that the Rang De team is passionate about – microcredit!

Prep to MI’09

The last few days in the Rang De office has been a frenzy. To be honest there was not much time to recover from the recent Field Partner Meet.The team had to fling into action the minute we got back but this time with a much stronger and a bigger team. We had with us three committed, passionate and youthful team members – Vibhore Vardhan who has joined us Vice president strategy, Arvind – whose spirits represent the future of Rang De and Manoj Mahadevan – whose rock solid support has only encouraged the team to push its own boundaries.

They have put together a fantastic line up of events for the Rang De stall. One may wonder how these events are connected to what we do at Rang De. And yes they are clearly not. But one thing all these events are designed to do is to get people to interact with us and in the process we get to explain to them in simple terms what microcredit is and for the first time in India how individuals can participate in it through Rang De. The Rang De Mumbai Chapter members are pitching in too by volunteering – after all we are talking about an event that is probably the largest crowd puller of sorts and attracts the youth from all over India.

A poster that will be posted across the IIT Bombay campus during Mood Indigo 2009. Hats off to our design partners Cheese Care for their fabulous designs.

Special mention needs to be made of our design partner Cheese Care who went all out of their way to make sure we got all our posters, emailers and other vouchers designed.

The team is headed tomorrow to Mumbai by the Chennai Dadar Express at 6.00 am. The entrance to our office speaks volumes of the kind of activities we have. There are T-shirts, caps, punch bags, projector, banners many more that I have lost track of. All that remains now is to pack up and head to Mumbai. It is going to be a long journey by train and that will give the team enough time to plan its communication strategy for the next four days.

Mood Indigo’ 09 ….Here we come!

The full list of events can be viewed on the Rang De Chapters Portal

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