It was five years ago that Dhanalakshmi decided to set up a small general store in her area. Her thrifty ways soon fetched her enough profits to acquire a milk agency. Her life partner is also her business partner, and operates from the same location, helping her to deliver the milk.
Dhanalakshmi is now striving to do better still. She observes that there is a crying need for school stationery to be made available easily. She has also set her sights on buying a refrigerator to store milk and other perishable goods.
Dhanalakshmi is a perfect example of how an ordinary woman can turn into a smart businesswoman. The loan of Rs.10000/- that she received for the development of her store has gone into buying a refrigerator, a coin pay phone, storage containers and a variety of stocks that includes milk. She has effectively multiplied her sources of income and her original plan of stocking school stationery? Well- “That will also be bought with the profits from the store.” says a determined Dhanalakshmi.
Dhanalakshmi’s story was made possible by Rang De, a non-profit organization that facilitates micro-credit in India. Rang De offers a platform for individuals to become Social Investors for as low as Rs.500 and connect with borrowers. Smita Ramakrishna, co-founder and CEO of Rang De writes about the decision behind the organization.
RangDe.Org began with a simple question – Why charity? If you and I want money for business, education or health, we walk up to the bank for credit. We do not ask for a donation. Have you ever wondered what happens if your corner tea stall vendor or your vegetable shop vendor needs a loan to expand his/her business?
When Ram and I decided to relocate to India and get into the development sector, one of the obvious ways would have been to set up an NGO in India and work for a cause. When we thought a little deeper about some of the issues, we began to realize that all these causes are manifestations of poverty and unless we address poverty we will not make much headway. There was a need to address poverty in a sustainable manner by involving individuals through a platform where barriers of distance or economics would not become a hindrance.
And thus RangDe.Org was born as a platform through which, any individual can connect with a person who lives in poverty and needs financial support. This connection between people of different economic backgrounds, we feel, is very important if we want to see a change in India.
Through RangDe.Org you can connect with a borrower of micro-credit by lending small sums of money small sums of money to an individual of a low income household. The money that you lend serves as the working capital for a micro-enterprise in a village or in urban slums. The typical needs that we are talking about are petty shops, cattle rearing, telephone booths.
Take Zythoombi, for instance – This widow has been eking out a living for the last 25 years, rolling beedis. She is a daily wage earner. Recent interactions with a local support group lit a spark within her. She intends to source the raw materials herself, make the beedis and sell it directly to the agents. ‘All I need is the capital” says the confident Zythoombi. Zythoombi has received Rs.5000 from Rang De. But she is not satisfied.
The amount has fetched adequate beedi leaves and tobacco to keep her busy, but leaves her two accomplices sitting idle. “We could easily handle a Rs.10000 loan and get better returns.” says Zythoombi. Her goal now, is to pay back her loan quickly and start again, with a bigger capital.
So far Rang De has raised loans for 205 borrowers from Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh, and plan to reach out to about 1000 borrowers in the next 6-8 months.
Rang De believes that little deeds from individuals can create a positive impact. Not everyone needs charity. Give people an access to financial opportunity and see what difference you can make with small sums of money. Log on www.rangde.org to learn more.