CONVERGE I — New Age Woman — When A Scrap Collector, A Single Parent & A Social Entrepreneur Spoke

March 14, 2017
By Rang De Team

CONVERGE: New Age Woman is the first in a series of events that we will hold where the contributions towards the event will go to communities in need of credit on www.rangde.org

As an organisation that raises funds for communities online, we have achieved tremendous success but we are not afraid to reach out through offline channels and have held concerts in villages, photography excursions and much more.

Early in March, we started a new initiative — CONVERGE.

CONVERGE aims to create a space for disparate groups of people to come together, hear each other out and also bring much-needed attention to the issue of poverty. We will also endeavour to bring forth a borrower from the Rang De platform so that you can hear authentic stories of the men & women that we seek to support with your help.

New Age Woman

Working as we do closely with women in rural communities (over 93% of our 50K+ borrowers are women), we felt that the popular perception of a New Age Woman leaves out this group among many others.

Our three speakers for the evening — Gloria Benny (the founder of a social startup), Indira Raja (a waste picker who took a Rang De education loan last year) & Sandhya Menon (a single parent and editor of a webzine) — came from varied backgrounds and exemplified the New Age Woman in their own way

Gloria Benny, the co-founder of our Impact partner Guardians of Dreams (helping children in shelter homes), has been part of the founding teams of two successful social ventures before she turned 30. She dove into sector because she saw things that disturbed her and chose “not to unsee it”.

After being involved in the non-profit industry for over a decade, Gloria had a few pointers for anybody looking to start an organisation.

Give yourself time — Time to understand the various facets of a social issue. Pick up skills — Moving beyond volunteering, leadership, management and creative skills are needed to run an organisation. Build a financial model — The success of any social venture depends on the strength of the financial model.

Speaking on a personal note, she continued, “As you grow older as a woman, and life springs itself at you, multiple distractions come your way, which make you inconsistent and unreliable.”

In the people she interacts with during the course of her work, Gloria made it a point to prove herself repeatedly to convince others she is passionate about the cause and is in it for the long run.

Sandhya Menon is a single parent and the editor of popular parenting webzine Zenparent.in

Sandhya spoke about issues at the intersection of parenting and mental health. She bravely admitted to dealing with bipolar and borderline personality disorder.

“I have been through six therapists,” she told us.

But the situation was especially more complex as a single parent. “You are doing the work of a father and mother or even two parents. Everyone thinks about the financial burden and there is one. But when my child is sick, who do I Whatsapp and ask, “Dude, do I send my kids to school?”

With fairly young children (an eight-year-old daughter and a seven-year-old son) small things irk her. Unfortunately, with such a mental illness, she has not been able to get better with practice.

“What happens with my condition is that you make the same mistakes, over and over again. After a point, your apologies do not matter.”

Sandhya has worked hard to build effective support systems for single parents and people struggling with mental health issues.

“The biggest reason that we don’t ask for help is because we like being a little pathetic. If you need money, ask for help. If it is your parents or if it is your friends, just go ahead and ask. Ask for help.”

“But make it a point to return make it a point to return the money at the start of the month to whoever you borrowed from.”

Indira is a waste-picker working in Kalasipalyam

Indira Raja thrilled us all.

A waste picker and scrap dealer in Bangalore, Indira received support from Rang De that enabled her to educate her children. Speaking in Kannada, she told everyone about the challenges she faced in her line of work

“We used to get beaten up by the police, bitten by dogs, harassed by drunk men on the street.”

Though Indira has since done well for herself, she shared with us a poignant aspiration.

“I have four kids, two girls and two boys. I have a dream that my children should sit among you. I have educated my children well. And it is not just my children. Even if I do well, all the children in my community should study and read well.”

“People from many organisations come to us but we scrap dealers don’t understand the things they say. It is only Hasirudala and Rang De that has helped us, provided us with facilities and finances. Because of that, we are able to do so many things. Even though I am scrap dealer, I am given with so much respect.”

“The people who have money build malls. At the same time, you have to provide for the poor as well. On the occasion of Women’s Day, my only wish is that poor mothers should be supported.”

We were honoured to organise an event that brought these three inspiring women together and we invite you to help us support thousands more new age women working and running their own businesses across rural India like Indira at www.rangde.org