I work as a technical architect at Rang De. I've been here for around eight years now, and what a great journey it's been!
For most of my career in software, I moved around the usual corporate circles. Moving from one job to the next, only to find the same culture once again. My last such job was with a well-known product company in 2009. I was never truly happy - I loved programming, but there was no meaning to these jobs, no social relevance. All I seemed to do was contribute to the profit of some big company.
One day, I bumped into an ex-colleague at a bakery near my house. We exchanged pleasantries and it turned out that he was working at a non-profit technology company just down the road. And that’s how my journey started in the "social space". I worked there for four great years. After that, there was no going back to the corporate world.
In 2014 I did a lot of introspection of the kind one does as one gets older - the realisation that whatever limited time I have left, I should make the most of it - and if not now then when? So I went freelance, purely in the social change space. I wanted to remain in this space while also having the flexibility and freedom of working on my own. I had heard of Rang De through a friend on social media, and did a few Social Investments as well, so I decided to get in touch with them. I "cold-emailed" them - essentially saying “Hey, I want to work for you and here's how I can contribute” - and they called me over for a meeting.
The meeting with the Rang De team - in an apartment converted into an office - went really well. The thing I remember the most from that first day is how I liked everyone I met there - everyone was friendly, humble and committed to the mission of Rang De. I started as a volunteer at first, then later on contract, and then finally as an employee.
Working here has educated me about poverty - the severity of the problem in our country and some of the ways in which we can take action. I still don't know a lot of course, but I'm much more socially aware than I used to be. As soon as I step outside my house I'm struck by the stark difference between "us" and "them". Knowing that our work at Rang De is part of the solution gives me some hope. I love the fact that I get to do technical work for a purpose like this - it more than compensates for the missing perks of the corporate world - money, fancy office, foreign travel. I consider myself lucky - my work never feels like work, I have great colleagues, no office politics, and no drama at all.
And even when there are occasional rough patches - as can happen even in the best of jobs - I only need to think about why I'm here - the mission, the cause - and that gets me through it. (Okay, the high I still get from writing good code helps too!)
I also get hope from having so many young colleagues. It's one thing for someone like me in the second half of life/career to work here, but it's another for someone just a few years out of college. Yet they do come, and that's so great.
I continue to be a Rang De social investor myself, and I keep re-investing my money in new investees. It's frustrating when I observe my circle of friends and acquaintances who know where I work and what I do, and yet they won't invest even a hundred rupees.
I hope to see a future Rang De where everyone I know and you yourself and everyone you know is investing even a small amount in rural entrepreneurs. To a cynical person who might say it won't be enough, it's just a drop in the ocean - I quote the final line of David Mitchell's "Cloud Atlas": "Yet what is any ocean but a multitude of drops?"