Nov 282012

Traveling As a Rang De Volunteer

A wise man once said, “The Journey is the destination”.

Why I quote this? Because not all journeys should have a destination, some of them should and are taken for the purpose of the journey and not for seeing a particular place or site.

One such journey I took some time back as a volunteer with Rang De. For those who are not familiar with Rang De but want to do something for this world, I strongly recommend you visit the website of Rang De.  Still, I would like to give a small primer about Rang De over here, it was founded by Ram and Smita after quitting their IT jobs abroad with the sole purpose of providing easy loans to small entrepreneurs at a low-cost using the creative crowdfunding methods.



For as low as 100 Rs one can become investor and volunteer with Rang de and contribute to eradicating poverty. The point to note here is that you are not giving charity this is a loan, (at very generous terms compared to the moneylender) and is sanctioned after a proper creditworthiness check.The whole idea is to keep the process IT enabled and transparent for all stakeholders like investors, borrowers and field partners.

Rangde Field Visit


As part of the close interaction between borrowers and investors, a Rang de volunteer can join on some of the field trips to various parts of India.  I joined one such trip some time back to a small town called Adoni near Kurnool in Andhra Pradesh. The idea was to meet around 10 potential borrowers, interview them and see if they are loan worthy or not. We were also planning to meet some past borrowers and see if there is any change in their life and financial condition after taking a loan and successfully paying it back.


A small loan borrower

We were 6 Rang de volunteers from Hyderabad and left early morning in 2 cars for Adoni. The road till Kurnool is the Bangalore highway and very good. After that, the great rural roads of India started. At places on the road, we found people drying their farm produce like chilies etc. We had to drive slowly to not to spoil the same. Adoni is like any other Kasba (small town) in India, not very big, not very small. Like most small towns in India it has pockets of different community and is divided into those lines, but we were interested in the biggest division of all the financial divide.

auto rickshaws in India


Most of the entrepreneurs we met were women in their 30s and 40s running the household and the business.  The men either work in big cities coming only for semiannual visits around festivals or were busy playing cards, as local opportunities are not good enough for them. Most of the women we met were without any higher education but still very passionate about their little enterprise and looking for a better life.

The potential borrowers were already doing some small business like Vegetable selling,  tailoring, running a small eatery for laborers, but the most enterprising was the  Amma as everybody was calling her, running her own masonry business with her daughter and daughter in law while the menfolk worked in Bangalore. She was able to explain exactly what the extra loan of 7-10K will mean to her business, in form of buying more raw materials and building a shed to keep some of the raw material so that it is not prone to theft and elements of nature.  She was not only self-employed she was giving employment to 2 of her relatives and one other neighbor, that is the power of these small enterprises.


Old radio in a rural house


So much for those who think only entrepreneurs worth their salt are the ones who start dotcoms. One of the entrepreneurs who runs a small loom from her home wanted the loan so that she could buy raw material directly from the market and not taking it from the moneylender who just paid her daily wages and kept the profit to himself. I saw the Indian Jugaad innovation in her home in form of a  Charkha ( spinning wheel) made from a cycle wheel rim to spin yarn.




microfinance self help group

A self help group meeting under a tree

Charkha or spinning wheel

Charkha or spinning wheel made of Cycle rim- Perfect example of Jugaad

One unique thing we noticed was that though the surroundings around most houses were filthy due to the apathy of the municipal authorities, the homeowners themselves have cleaned the front of their house and made a small simple Rangoli in front of the house. I was wondering why some of the folks in the lane could not come together to clean the surroundings also and not wait for the government to do it once in a while.

We returned to Hyderabad in the evening talking about this unique travel and learning experience that not only showed us, city-bred folks, another face of India but also a lesson in entrepreneurship that is hard to learn in the MBA textbooks. If you would like to volunteer for Rang De, you can contact them through the website and join this mission to eradicate poverty using the path of entrepreneurship. This would be one journey that will not only open your eyes but also open new avenues and options for a small entrepreneur. Remember? ” The Journey is the Destination”


A simple Rangoli in front of a village home


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  20 Responses to “A Journey as A Rang De Volunteer”

Comments (20)
  1. though, i have heard of rang de..but, never knew what exactly they operate.. great piece of info!!

  2. I had heard of Rang de and now I know about them in details thanks to you. Kudos to each contributor 🙂

  3. wow that was new to me.Never heard of Rangde very thoughtful and very nice to see ur information.I am sure it will be one good lifetime experience happy to see good people like u doing such good boy.High fi to you.

  4. Nice to learn about Rangde. I think that’s a very sensible idea. This way the money goes to people who make something out of it and secondly, because it is money borrowed these small entrepreneurs would use it responsibly.
    And what a nice name — Rangde. Apt!

    • Hi D.Nambiar…. thanks for your comments, and I totally agree with you that it is a great concept.. the best part is money once returned by borrower can be used for some body else and the cycle of poverty is broken by cycle of borrowing and returning… thanks.

  5. this is such a wonderful initiative! very inspiring. would love to be a part of something like this one day.

  6. That is a splendid venture! Efforts like these go a long way in encouraging the village folk stand on their own. Wonderful work, thanks for sharing your experiences 🙂

  7. Good to know about Rangde and the place.

  8. Truly wonderful initiative.

  9. Wow! Thanks for the info on Rangde …. and your travels take you to very interesting places 🙂

  10. Firstly thanx for educating about Rang De.The paper on ‘The Journey is the destination’ has been very well formatted.It also in a way highlights apathy of authority responsible for development of rural India to some extent and the grit of Indian rural entrepreneur esp women folks.

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