Social Startups

Rang De the Kiva of India, Brings Web Based Microlending Home

Rang De is the first and only web based platform in India which allows individuals to directly lend money to poor people who are looking for capital to start small businesses.

Inspired by Kiva’s (US based) model of person to person online lending and due to Kiva’s inability to service borrowers in India, Rang De was launched to fill this gap. Though Kiva has to date over 500,000 people who’ve made loans in 58 countries they’ve been unable to service the poor in India due to government banking regulations.

Seizing on the massive opportunity to provide the world’s most populous nation with a platform to connect people who want to help with those needing help, Rang De started the direct online lending platform in 2008. Created for people of India, allowing Indians in any part of the world to invest in India’s Poor.

How Does Rang De Work

Very simple – People needing loans are listed on RangDe.org along with a short note on why they need the loan, the loan amount needed and the tenure. People looking to lend register on Rang De’s website, select the borrower and make the loan online via credit card. Lenders can fund as little as INR 100 or as much as the entire amount of the loan. Rang De’s Field Partners, Microfinance Institutions on the ground work directly with the borrowers to ensure success for all involved. Once the loan matures, lender get the principal along with the interest at a fixed rate of 2% p.a. The lender then has three options – reinvest, donate to Rang De or withdraw the amount earned. Currently only Indian citizens can make a loan however they will soon be opening for anyone to invest.

Rang De’s Promise to Poor Borrowers

Rang De is committed to providing loans at interest rates that don’t exploit the poor. Microfinance Institutions have been in the news lately for their lack of transparency in fixing interest rates and charging high interest rates (As high as 40%) which recently led to a series of suicides in Andhra Pradesh, India. To learn about micro finance and the reasons for backlash, read http://www.dutiee.com/microfinance-explained

Rang De by leveraging the Internet and the direct person to person lending model aims to bring down the cost of loans thus providing affordable capital to the poor. Rang De interest rates to the end user ranges from 6% p.a. to 10% p.a (fixed). The interest rates and the percentage break-up of the interest earned between Rang De the field partner and the lender is published on Rage De’s website. For instance a loan made at a fixed interest rate of 8.5% on maturity would earn a return of 1.5% for Rang De, 5% for the field partner and 2% for the lender.

Rang De plans to be highly transparent about all its dealings and publishes every detail that needs to be known on its website.

To spread the word and to educate fellow Indians about the online lending platform and microfinance, Rang De has started volunteer chapters all across India and overseas. I had an opportunity to talk to their US Volunteer Chapter President, Chetan Agrawal who informed me he was initially a lender on Kiva and is extremely happy to have Rang De as he can now invest in his fellow country men and help them come out of poverty.

If you are interested in making a loan or joining their volunteer efforts, visit http://www.rangde.org