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Rang De: Helping marginalized women become breadwinners

With the need to promote access of financial credit to marginalised communities, Rang De – a pan-India initiative – has been empowering women to take on the role of being breadwinners for their families by providing them with loans to become entrepreneurs. The initiative has supported around 3,700 families in the state and 300 families in Bengaluru, who now have access to low-cost credit.

“Over 90 per cent of the beneficiaries are women. From our experience, we have seen that it is most impactful when the loans are given to women as they are able to provide for their families with these loans. We have also seen the dynamics within the family change when the woman begins to have her say in financial matters,” says Smitha Ram, founder of Rang De.

“Annapoorna, who was a flower vendor earlier, switched to running a tailoring business at home with the help of the loan. Although she was earning a living on her own, she did little without consulting her husband. She would not even pay her daughter’s school fees without checking with him first. Thanks to her continued involvement in a self-help group, her role began to evolve and she began to maintain the group’s accounts. Managing the finances gave her confidence. She has grown bolder, stronger and more confident after taking on her new job,” Smitha explains. Her husband now consults her in all financial matters, and the couple jointly makes decisions pertaining to their household.

According to the World Bank, less than 10 per cent Indians have access to formal credit. Formal financial systems like banks are not designed to service marginalised communities that comprise semi-literate or illiterate people. Rang De raises funds from individuals called ‘social investors’ through an internet-based platform. The funds are disbursed and repaid through select NGO partners (impact partners).

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