By Smita Ram, Rang De Team
Photo Courtesy Global News Centre For Microfinance
On a weekday in October 2007, a few months before RangDe.Org went live, Ram and I found ourselves literally shaking with excitement. We had an appointment with the man himself. The man who was responsible for spearheading India’s largest MFI’s growth trajectory. We made sure we had all our answers ready before we visited him at his office in Banjara Hills. I was a little stiff with nervousness and I could sense that Ram was getting jittery too. Our first big meeting with Mr. Sitaram Rao.
We reached the office at 11.00 am sharp and were waiting to be called inside to meet Mr. Rao. We saw someone walking towards us and we presumed he was walking towards us to guide us to Mr. Rao’s cabin. Imagine our sheer disbelief when this unassuming man introduced himself as Mr. Sitaram Rao. He immediately put us at ease with his friendly manner and warmth. It was as if we had known him for a really long time. We chatted about Rang De, about our plans. His words were encouraging, inspiring and time just flew without us getting a slightest hint.
When we left his office, we knew we had earned a friend for life. We met him many times after this meeting — at networking events for the industry. He would always give us a pep talk, a pat on the back and say “Keep up the good work. You are going in the right direction.”
Mr. Sitaram Rao’s demise is a great loss not just to the microfinance industry but to humanity itself. He is one of the finest men we have met during Rang De’s journey. He continues to be an inspiration.