By lighting another’s candle, you actually brighten your own
For most people, the desire for self-actualisation is deeply intertwined with a sense of purpose to life. Giving (time, money, and energy) to someone in need is a central way that we strive to find the true meaning of life.
Poverty is a result of many factors — historical as well as economic, political and social causes. But the fact is that helping people now not only reduces unnecessary suffering and saves lives but helps create the conditions that favour eliminating both poverty and many of the factors that maintain it.
Unfortunately, philanthropy in India is often looked at as something meant only for the wealthy (likes of Azim Premji, Shiv Nadar and Ratan Tata etc) and something one would do when they are extremely well settled in life.
In my opinion, this isn’t true and I believe that Rang De has been creating a paradigm shift in that mindset where even not-so-rich-and-famous like myself have been able to create a noticeable impact in eradicating poverty.
How did I discover Rang De?
I found out about Rang De when I met Ramakrishna NK, the Rang De co-founder (also an Ashoka Fellow) during the 2012 NASSCOM Product Conclave when both of us were volunteers.
Interacting with Ram helped me get a detailed understanding of Rang De’s crowdfunding platform for rural development, where one can contribute to micro-loans at the lowest rates in the country to the people who need it the most.
Since 2012, I have made 101 social investments, impacting lives of 161 borrowers. I have contributed to the micro-loans of borrowers in Karnataka, Orissa, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Manipur, Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra and West Bengal.
It is amazing that making a positive change of someone’s life is possible with just a click of a button. Before Rang De, my social efforts were limited to contributing to nearby orphanages and old-age homes but Rang De has helped me make a much bigger difference.
Get started with Rang De
Rang De makes a realistic attempt to alleviate poverty through microcredit.
- Choose borrowers to fund small businesses or education. You can invest Rs.100 or more.
- Rang De’s Impact Partners, organisations selected because of their holistic focus on rural development, receive and disburse loans to borrowers.
- Borrowers repay the loan according to a repayment schedule. As and when they repay, you receive your investment with a nominal return.
Why I trusted Rang De?
I trusted Rang De because of transparency in their financial reports and the fact that they are a not-for-profit organisation. Additionally, I personally met many of the Rang De team members over the last 4 years which gave me the confidence that that these individuals are running the organisation with all their heart.
When considering which organisation to contribute towards, people have the same questions. Is this organisation trustworthy? Will they take a big chunk of the money that I give for themselves? With Rang De, I have found the answers I needed and I hope that others will also find them in time.
Charity is not a great method unless it helps the recipient become independent
I think crowdfunded micro-finance is a powerful and sustainable way to tackle poverty. You can donate once or give food but that leads to a short-term result but for long-term growth, by getting villagers loans at low rates, we can help them earn their way out of poverty.
For many rural businesses, borrowers often have to take loans from moneylenders and so the family can easily fall into debt and poverty again.
If, in the current generation, we can at least help ensure that the parents can afford their children’s education by making sure they can run their businesses without losing their profits due to high interest rates, the children will grow up with better opportunities and be in a better place to ensure their children get educated to.
I was waiting for Rang De to enter the education finance sector in a big way and they did that in 2013. Rang De education loans are not just helping school students but even those studying in polytechnic colleges, universities or vocational training colleges.
Offline and Online Meetups with Rang De
I like the fact that the Rang De team is very accessible. I have attended their offline events, their Hangouts and the Rangdezvous they hold when they invite an Impact partner who shares with us exactly how Rang De loans are making a difference on the field.
Soon, I also hope to attend a field trip and accompany the Rang De team members as they go to check how the borrowers are faring (their most recent Field Trip Diary has been on Assam) in any of the hundreds of underserved communities across India.
Nimesh Mathur currently works at HackerRank, which is a community of skilled programmers and a coding-based technical recruitment platform.
Please do write to us at at firstname.lastname@example.org if you are a Social Investor as we are keen to learn about your Rang De experience! You can also read success stories of borrowers on the Rang De website here.
If you are a Social Investor then you can sign up for an audio evaluation and speak to a borrower by filling up the form here. You can also see the upcoming field trips on our Field Trip calendar to join us and see for yourself how your contribution has helped communities across India!