Technology and software developers are integral to the work we do here at Rang De. So when I heard that Rang De was one of 3 startups to be featured in the latest edition of the #geektruststartupcrawl, I was excited.
For the uninitiated, Geektrust.in is an online platform that connects talented software developers with interesting companies in the startup space in Bangalore. Geektrust.in was started by three techies — Sneha Jain, Krishnan Nair and Dhanush Gopinath — to foster conversations about and around all things tech. Over the years, the platform has been responsible for connecting developers with a variety of tech startups in the city.
On January 21, the Geektrust crawl bus made its way to the Rang De office and gave us an opportunity to showcase our work. It also allowed the participants to interact with the current employees in the company, and allowed them to experience the work culture first hand.
When Rang De started operations in 2008, it was the first peer-to-peer lending platform in India.
Our mandate was to leverage technology to offer microfinance to underserved communities and to do this at the lowest cost possible. Speaking as a developer with 13 years of experience in building large-scale web applications across a range of platforms, I can confidently say that what we do at Rang De is challenging.
The software we develop helps connect potential investors with borrowers from remote villages in India; our investors have the choice to direct their money to individual borrowers, a specific state and a sector of their choice.
A direct outcome of the work we do every day has been an unprecedented level of transparency. This was not seen before in peer-to-peer micro-finance in the process of giving and lending money.
Despite our success (over 11,000 lenders believe in the model and visit the website every month), the work we do is far from over. As our co-founder Smita Ram pointed out, Rang De is functioning on an organic model which works through NGOs to help the community. We are looking to move towards a scale-model whereby individuals from villages across India will be able to directly apply for a Rang De loan lowering the cost of credit even further.
Access to credit is still minimal for most people in rural areas and loan programs are not customised to meet their needs.
We are actively working towards ensuring that universal financial inclusion becomes a reality and technology is an integral part of our vision to become the premier institute in peer-to-peer micro-finance for development.
In the near future, we aim to implement a financial literacy program and use Aadhaar to allow people to directly apply for a customised loan. In the new system, we would also be able to offer cheap loans at a single-digit APR.
As a software developer, the challenge is to develop data-driven systems that will enable people with little or no credit history to apply for loans and to reach out and offer credit to a person in the remotest areas of the country. And while this is challenging, it is also an exciting time to be in the fintech scene in the country.
It is very gratifying to develop software and work with a team to solve complex problems at a tech-startup that is also a non-profit working to eliminate poverty. And it was great to share this feeling with 25 young developers. I hope they spread the message further across the most dynamic city in the world.
Aroj George is the Chief Technology officer and leads a team of technologists at Rang De. We are looking for new talent to join us. If you are interested in working with us, please visit out careers page.
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