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The Boom Of Micro Lending In India, And How You Can Fuel Rural Entrepreneurs

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By Rajkanya Mahapatra:

Ratna Mondal is a resident of Santipur in West Bengal. She weaves and sells sarees. She has worked for 10 years out of her 600 sq. ft. house and now earns about Rs.5,000/- a month. She has paid off the loans she has taken before and has no outstanding debt. With this loan, she will purchase threads for weaving, and tools (Tana with Maku) required to make weaving faster. Her income will go a long way in supplementing her family income and ensuring that she sells high quality products.” (Source)

Ratna’s loan amount is Rs.12000, she has gotten 50 weeks to return the loan money and the rate of interest is 8.50% p.a. There are more Ratna(s) than you can imagine. There are fish vendors, vegetable sellers, tailors, bangle workers, who need money for their start-ups, to educate their children, to install basic facilities in their households. Milaap and Rangde are two organizations that have been able to successfully help thousands of grass root entrepreneurs in a very short amount of time.


This article doesn’t have to be about numbers and facts, although they are there in abundance. More than 5000 social investors, 27,583 borrowers out of which 94.98% are women borrowers in 17 states. If you translate these figures on, they will tell you a story so beautiful and noble, it might make you want to believe in the world again. To believe in the fact that people who need help, get help. There are more than enough people on and who have ensured along with their field partners and funders that India trots on the path of self-reliance again, this time stronger than the last time, backed with technology, bright minds and good intentions.

What micro financing organizations like Rangde and Milaap actually do is collaborate with grass root level organisations who in turn reach out to people like Ratna who need help to expand their business, a detailed account is put up on the website explaining what the borrower’s conditions are, what he/she needs the money for and then how she plans to use it, the money is raised on the website by ‘social investors’; a social investor can be you, me, or a non-resident Indian. The interest rates are really low (as low as 5% p.a) compared to other micro financing institutions. Organisations like these are mission driven and aim to achieve the social impact that they wanted to, when they had started out.


Sourabh Sharma, Anoj Vishwanathan, Mayukh Choudhary are the founders of  Milaap while Smita Ramakrishna and Ramakrishna NK are the founders of Rangde. I was amazed when I went through their stories as to how ordinarily extraordinary they were. Engineers and Business graduates, who used their knowledge and passion to give shape to these organizations that have now managed to change thousands of lives, raised lakhs of rupees and helped households in the remotest of places. It made me think, every aam aadmi, does not have to form a party to get solutions. Every aam aadmi, like you and me, can make a difference, if we use our knowledge for the right reasons, so that it serves us and our fellow countrymen and propel us into an Indian that looks hopeful.

It is important to notice how good intentions and sharp minds can give rise to ambitious start-ups that mean both business and wellness. It is high time we re-align our priorities as the youth of India, use our knowledge to serve the society, so that we in turn get to live a better life.

When I went through the micro financing index of India, I couldn’t really see much apart from numbers separated by comma(s), they didn’t have a story to tell unlike Milaap and Rangde. I comprehend emotion more than skeletal numbers and when I see an opportunity like this to contribute to the society I live in, I take a step ahead. I am going to lend money, I have decided. You should do it too. If there is anything really COOL (and sensible of course) to do out there, it has to be THIS.

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  1. balayogi

    read many detailed research works on this subject especially ‘India Unincorporated’
    By R. Vaidyanathan and many of his articles and lectures on this subject

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

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Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

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MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

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A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

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A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

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A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
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