Rang De connects underserved communities in rural India to urban Indians (who we call Social Investors) with a social bent of mind via an online platform. But ever so often, it is a face to face interaction that forges this connection further.
Rangdezvous is an event that we host to bring together Social Investors, the leaders of rural organisations that are bringing real change on the ground and some of the individuals who take Rang De loans financed by online investors that share their stories on how their lives have changed through affordable microcredit.
On October 1, we invited Pranjal Dubey, the founder of Sant Singhaji Institute of Science and Management (SSISM) in Sandalpur, Madhya Pradesh. The institute not only provides quality undergraduate education to students from rural Madhya Pradesh but also works on their employability and placements.
What began as a seven-year itch in Pranjal’s IT services job at SAP Labs culminated in a journey back home filled with the desire to give back to his community. He took the audience along the journey, detailing how he fought confusion and sought mentorship from Trilochan Sastry, Dean at the Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore.
“In the two options that you have, one involves bowing to a hundred people to make your way here in the city. The other involves a hundred people and perhaps many more in rural India who could use your help to make their own way. Where do your responsibilities lie?” Sastry asked him in 2006.
Pranjal went back home to set up SSISM in 2010. He found support from his brother, Sankalp Bhargava, to start the institute from a small dharamshala after conversations with many people and conducting studies in the region.
SSISM is built on two tenets that Pranjal holds dear — give dreams and confidence & create role models.
A rapt audience listened to the humbling ways in which Pranjal overcame the challenge of patriarchal mindsets in the homes of students where parents were often the decision-makers and would rather have their children work instead of pursue higher studies, the extensive bias towards boys in the region, the lack of initial funds and quality teachers.
An IT man, Pranjal then laid down a few numbers about SSISM — over 2,000 enrolments from 150 villages happen every year with a 95% pass rate, 14 students from the institution have been university toppers in rural Madhya Pradesh and over 150 placements have been arranged in top corporates such as HSBC, Tata Consultancy Services, Infosys, Future Group etc.
He attributed this to a number of innovative programs that they run to improve attendance, classroom performance as well as train employable skills such as spoken English, team work, planning and execution.
Mission 100% is one such example.
By offering a trip to Kullu Manali to those classes which achieve a 100% pass rate in the final exams, the experiment increased attendance, motivation and peer support.
Shivani, Vishal and Naveen — students who had graduated from SSISM and who presently work in Bangalore — also took to the stage to provide testimony to Pranjal’s narrative of the institute’s achievements.
Would creating many organisations such as SSISM offer better results than national level solutions? Pranjal definitely agreed that it would but he cautioned that there were vast regional differences in the attitude towards education.
Another Social Investor prodded Pranjal for his thoughts on migration.
“I’m not against it,” said Pranjal. “If a person has skills and talent, he should be free to go make his mark anywhere in the world.”
When someone asked how they could pitch in, Pranjal’s sheepish smile made way to a list of things that SSISM could use from funds to content to just one’s time. Rang De micro-loans have helped the poorest students greatly as the rates that we offer (<2.5%) are extremely affordable to the families, most of whom hail from agricultural backgrounds.
Giving dreams and confidence & building role models seems like a simple goal that all institutions aspire towards but the attendees learned at the event exactly how challenging it can be in a rural setting.
We are proud to partner with institutions like SSISM for whom community development comes before any financial motive as they quietly carry out their work over the long term impacting the lives of thousands of individuals in rural India. Our micro-loans crowdfunded by individuals have helped SSISM students focus on their studies instead of any financing concerns.
You can watch the whole speech live at the following link.
Rang De has supported nearly 237 students of SSISM by raising education loans from Social Investors.
58 students from this institution currently await loans to pay their fees for learning, knowledge and a brighter future. You too can help support them by making a small investment with Rang De.