By Arvind Sridharan, Rang De Blogger
Participants of the first Rang De Field Partner Meet take a group photo. Approximately 40 people participated in the meet.
Dec 11 and Dec 12 were two big days for Rang De. Rang De’s field partners from across India had come to Chennai for a two day meet discuss their current partnerships with Rang De, participate in Rang De’s new microcredit programs, and to give feedback on Rang De. Rang De team members came from across the country (Pune, Mumbai, and Bangalore) and this was the first time the current Rang De team met. The only flaw with the meet was that it started approximately two hours late. However, we did manage to catch up and the sessions ended as per schedule. By the end of the meet, participants were highly supportive of Rang De’s underlying mission — alleviating poverty through low cost micro-credit and they made a commitment to work together towards achieving the same.
Rang De volunteer Sowmya asks Dr. SK Singh from Sambhav to dance to a rhythm as part of the ice breaker session.
An ice breaker session started the meet off. It was conducted professionally by Sowmya, a Rang De volunteer. Mr. Jayakumar from HOPE IRDS then highlighted some of its policies to ensure that a strong groups of borrowers are formed. During his Q&A session, the recent floods in Andhra Pradesh had been asked about and Mr. Jayakumar mentioned that the borrowers were very resilient. Even after facing natural calamities such as the Kurnool floods, they only asked for two month extension for resuming repayments. He also appreciated Rang De for informing its visitors about the situation in Kurnool and raising Rs.28,000 towards food and supplies for the people in the affected area. You can read more on the floods at:
- The flood situation in Kurnool — Update 1
- The Flood Situation in Kurnool — Update 2
- Victims of the flood
- Floods in Andhra Pradesh affect Rang De’s borrowers
Volunteer Manoj Mahadevan interacts with Mr. Achyut Kulkarni from GMASS at the field partner meet. Ad hoc interactions took place throughout the meet.
A session by Ananth (representative of Water.Org) was dedicated to exploring partnership opportunities with Water.Org, an NGO that works towards providing the means for people to get safe drinking water. He suggested that micro finance institutions should provide the loans required for water and sanitation projects as they are vital to people’s health and well-being.
Beatrice from New Life discussed Rang De’s Field Mentorship Program, a program that is designed to take the best of the borrowers from Rang De’s income-generation program to the next higher level of entrepreneurship. The program has been in the pilot stage for the past 6 months. Out of three borrowers selected, two have taken up the program and are doing well with their stores.
Rang De’s field partners gave their feedback on Rang De. Field partners felt that Rang De should reduce the time by which a loan is given (it is currently 30 days). They also suggested that the loan amount for first time borrowers on Rang De should be allowed to be higher than Rs. 5000. Rang De assured the partners that loans will be given within 30 days because loans need to be raised on line. It was also mentioned that loans should be given to people that need them independent of time. Rang De reiterated its position that first time borrowers must be of the poor and that higher size loans can be given once they have proven their repayment capabilities.
Kamala Das, a borrower from Orissa has taken a loan of Rs 1000 to buy material to make Bamboo products. Gram Utthan, a field partner in Orissa has identified borrowers that need money in the range Rs. 1000–3000.
Govind Dash from Gram Utthan highlighted the Rs.1000–3000 loans that were funded by Rang De for people that already have the skills required to market their products (but need a loan to procure materials). Kamala Das is one such borrower. He also highlighted how important it is for micro finance institutions to continually support their borrowers and to give special training for first time borrowers.
To close the first day, Kiruba, one of Rang De’s governing board members emphasized the importance of the Internet being a platform to get crowds together to do great things and he feels Rang De is an attempt to do the same.
Other highlights of the meet include the Pan-IIT Foundation’s reach for India program, the importance of sanitation, and Rang De’s field partners helping Rang De in achieving its mission. More on the same to follow in our next blog post.