Volunteering In The UK To Work Towards An Inclusive India Back Home

October 27, 2016
By Rang De Team
Shweta (second from left in the front row) with Raghu Dixit, our brand ambassador, alongside other UK chapter members at a hangout with Raghu event

The India I grew up in and the India I saw when I entered the job market are two different countries.

Job prospects and possibilities are now available that we cannot imagine due to India’s explosive growth over the past two decades.

But I was always aware that this growth was not evenly distributed.

Rural India has been left behind while urban India has spurred on ahead. I feel it is my responsibility to give them the same opportunities, not out of any sense of pity or charity but to help empower them.

Five years ago, my brother sent me a link to the Rang De website saying,“Try it. It is a very cool idea.” I did and I was hooked. This ingenious idea of a low-cost loan to empower people in rural areas appealed to me immensely.

Since then, I have never looked back.

The UK Chapter members regularly liases with high-ranking diplomats such as Mr. Balaji from the Indian High Commission at the United Kingdom at the 2016 Independence Day celebrations

I introduced Rang De to my friends and even met with Ram, the co-founder. Meeting him and hearing his story cemented my belief in Rang De.

Ram and Smita were just another couple working in London who wanted to do something for their country. Their story was so relatable to me that I got even more involved with Rang De.

Two years ago when Rohit Parakh became a Chapter head in London, he roped me into the committee and now I am leading the chapter.

At the Rang De UK Chapter, we have two primary aims — raising awareness and raising funds for the entrepreneurs on the Rang De platform.

Tapping into the huge Indian diaspora, we reach out to Non-Residential Indians and inform them about Rang De and let them know how Rang De is a game changer in India’s fight against poverty.

Secondly, we reach out to philanthropic Indians and non-Indians here to join our team to help us raise funds for Rang De.

Every £1 raised here becomes almost Rs 100 in India and can make a huge impact in somebody’s life.

We have been engaging with Indians by participating in community events and celebrations on important occasions such as Independence Day or Diwali, as well as holding events under our own banner. This year, we hosted a talk by Dr Balu, a leading development practitioner, and even facilitated a hangout with Raghu Dixit, the Rang De brand ambassador.

We are also liaising with the High Commission here and building contacts with Indians and people of Indian origin holding high offices in the UK.

We all want to do something for our country but it is hard to do something meaningful while being so far away. There are so many charitable organisations but it is hard to tell the genuine ones where you can put in your hard earned money.

Rang De helps solve this problem with their transparent model wherein you can see everything online, choose the borrowers you want to invest in and also have the opportunity to track the impact your money has made in their lives through phone conversations or field visits.

One of the biggest problems for all of us from India is that most of us are disengaged. Rang De helps you re-connect and get over the apathetic mindset that development is ‘not my job’.

Personally, the core proposition of Rang De is providing livelihood opportunities to the underserved and so I invest in business loans. I aim to cover all states and professions. I love to read the stories of borrowers and browse the website before I invest as it makes me feel more connected to the borrowers and to the cause.

With chapter members and Mr. Balu, a leading development practitioner.

The Rang De UK Chapter started in a small way but it has been scaling up ever since our registration as a UK Charity in February 2016. We have been gaining great momentum and we want to reach out to as many Indians as possible in the United Kingdom.

I want everyone to know about the game changing idea that is Rang De and be a part of our homeland’s development.

The road is long but I am happy to have gotten started and I hope India continues to grow as a country with even the rural parts benefitting equally over the years.

Shweta Jain Chaudhury currently works at MasterCard as a Managing Consultant.

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