Ganesh is amongst the first few from our community of Social Investors to try out ‘The Influencer Project’. TIP enables you to refer someone you trust and interact with regularly to receive a formal loan through Rang De. This could be your domestic worker, driver, cook, carpenter, or anyone you can vouch for, who is also financially excluded. By lending through our platform, you are helping this person build a credit history, hence enabling them to access credit more easily from formal financial institutions in the future. By lending through Rang De, you are now transforming an act of generosity into an act of longer-term financial inclusion. Ganesh and his colleagues from IIM Ahmedabad realized the true potential of TIP. During the pandemic, they referred 13 Investees ultimately securing their livelihoods. Excerpts
What made you feel the need to contribute to society? During my days in engineering, I used to visit shelter homes in different parts of the city. We used to give classes to students who lacked a dynamic education. Mainly mechanical demos of instruments to show how things work practically. While doing so we realized they needed more handholding at the basic level.
As a part of solving this problem, I worked alongside two NGOs teaching students across different levels. That was the first step toward doing good for society. I don't really know what drew me, but I saw a problem and felt that I had the time and resources to solve it.
Likewise in the pandemic, I realized that willing people shall definitely step in times of crisis. When I and my colleagues in IIM Ahmedabad ran a campaign to deliver food kits to affected communities and help migrants to reach home, we raised funds more than we expected. That was a testament to the feeling of togetherness at unprecedented times.
But as days went by, we realized that what we are offering is a temporary solution and it needs intervention at a deeper level and that’s how we came across Rang De.
How did your journey with Rang De start?
So as I mentioned, offering kits would only give them temporary relief. NGOs across the nation were also raising funds through charity. We soon realized that there would be a point in time when we would run out of funding. So we started looking for a more sustainable solution. A solution that would ultimately bring them back on their feet.
People were taking loans to manage daily expenses during the lockdown. As a result, informal moneylenders would hike the interest rates to their benefit. So with the help of a few NGOs, we identified a few people to whom we could lend money. And Rang De came as a one-stop solution. As it was being RBI regulated and our lending would be official loans, we were confident to take The Influencer Project.
During the pandemic, the category of “other personal loans” mainly comprising loans without collateral but at substantially higher interest rates has also been growing steadily, indicating that many borrowers may have used this route to meet their emergency fund requirements during the pandemic. How did you make the decision to trust Rang De with your money? We did a check on Rang De’s work and studied their reports in detail. We found it to be in line with our thoughts. We had a few conversations with the Rang De Team and they shared a few documents and that was all.
Tell us about the borrowers you referred for a formal loan at Rang De I had referred two borrowers namely - Chandrakanth and Naresh. During our initial project in Navawada, we were helping households with their essential needs. We worked with him for several months, he would help us identify potential households that needed urgent help. Down the line, we figured he also needed financial assistance. He works with the manufacturing and installation of GPS tracking devices in long-distance vehicles. So that their logistics can track the movement of their goods. So we thought we could help him to buy inventory through a low-interest loan through Rang De. So he could resume his work when conditions become favourable. Naresh was our community volunteer in implementing the work on the ground. We worked with him for several months. During that time he shared with us that he had taken a loan for his auto from an informal lender. He had paid almost 70% of the loan but struggled to pay the rest of the amount. He had a few months left to repay or he’d have to lose his auto as that was the collateral. With the Rang De loan that we availed him through ‘The Influencer Project, he is able to pay it back at his convenience.
How was the process of referring to the two Investees? The entire process was user-friendly. I shared the details of the borrowers and the person in recharge at Rang De did a background check. They laid out the steps easily and it was done hassle-free. We have lent to almost 13 borrowers with the help of this project. Do you think ‘The Influencer project’ could be the next big thing? Absolutely. This particular project is what interested me in Rang De the most. As it is unlike any other standard program, with help of The Influencer Project one can cater to a versatile audience. NGOs may not be able to reach everyone, but TIP gives every individual the power to influence change in their immediate surroundings. Being an IIM student, tell us your view about Capital Investment vs Social Investment? Usually, when we make Capital investments we look for gains. So we invest in an already successful business. The money we invest, helps the company grow, and as a part of this, they get a monetary return. More like a profit-making venture. While on the other hand, Social Investment enables small businesses to have a chance at being successful. Businesses that have potential but lack funding. Entrepreneurs who have brilliant ideas but lack resources. So only through structured social investments can we make everyone equitable. Can a social investment of Rs 500 make any difference? Yes, it definitely would. An amount of Rs 500 may be trivial for well-off people. I realized it when we were distributing food kits. Each kit costs around Rs 800 and a family of four could use it for 7-10 days. A lot of people during the pandemic were struggling to pay back debt and were looking for loans to fulfil their needs. They needed loans as low as Rs 5000. If we could lend them they would not have to borrow from moneylenders. We are a more secure option for them. Moneylenders are a threat due to their exorbitant interest rates. With this project, each one of us has the power to create strides of Influence. Know more about the Influencer Project at https://rangde.in/influence