Friday, May 9, 2008

Follow up on RangDe

Abhishek Khurana and I had a couple of queries which we mailed to They responded promptly. Reproducing the responses here.

Query 1: When I was searching for borrowers whom I could lend to, I realized that the search for borrowers in UP or J&K did not throw up any results but searching in Tamil Nadu gave quite a few. My query is, are you concentrating on a particular state or group of states to start with? Or is there something wrong in the way I was searching?

Response: Thanks for your support to Rang De. The reason why you did not find borrowers in the states that you searched is because we have not been able to reach out to people in these regions due to lack of resources.

RangDe.Org went live on 26th January 2008 and so far our field partners are from Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu (precisely why you found many from TN). We at Rang De hope that we will soon be able to spread to different parts of India with the help of field partners based in these regions. Our field partners are NGOs and non profit microfinance institutions with a committed development approach and values.

We are now moving to other states such as Karnataka and Rajasthan and the moment we find a credible partner in the states you have mentioned, we will be able spread out there as well.

We now also have the advantage of a full fledged team who will be joining us on 5th of May and we are hoping that they will help us enhance our reach in other parts of India sooner rather than later.

Query 2: "There are a lot of women" in the search results. We really do not have anything against this but were wondering if this is something to do with the demographics of that area or is it that you have a focus on women.

Response: Traditional microfinance is aimed mainly at women. You must have noticed that these are unsecured loans. What typically happens is that the money is lent not to an individual but to an inidvidual who is part of a group. These groups ususally consist of not more than 20 women. These groups are either Joint Liability Groups or Self Help Groups. In both the cases the group has an important role to play. In JLG, if a woman does not repay, her peers in the group need to pitch in in which case there is some kind of a peer pressure that builds and the woman is forced to repay. Research says that this peer pressure can work only with women. In case of the SHG, the group has their own savings, and if the woman cannot repay, it comes from her savings.

In both these cases the key features are responsibility and peer pressure. it is considered these work best with women. However, we at Rang De have not given up on men. We are trying to work out different ways in which we can reach out to male borrowers and we will soon be facilitating loan for our first male borrower.

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