Three years or so ago, I was on my way back to university by the MRT in Singapore. I met Anoj, a fellow university student who was in his final semester after a long time. We didn’t know each other too well and had had a bit of a stormy acquaintanceship in the past (haha). Luckily, that didn’t get in the way of us talking about our plans of the future.
He spoke of an idea he was working on – Microfinance to help India’s poor. They were about to begin with a pilot to see if the idea was feasible before embarking on the journey full time.
Three years later, Milaap has gone on to raise $200,000 and change 4,000 lives. All this with a 100% repayment rate. If that isn’t amazing, I don’t know what is!
The concept is simple – Nagendra, a 35 year old, needs around $1000 of capital to set up a handicraft business to manufacture bags and cushions. The capital would enable him to purchase raw materials and now, thanks to Milaap, he has access to lenders who would enable him to have the money. He expects to pay it back in monthly instalments over the next 2 years.
Or let’s take a more pressing issue – water. Milaap estimates that 500 million people, 50% of India’s population, do not have access to clean drinking water. And just a loan of $24 could help provide drinking water for a person for life.
This is of course not charity. You can choose to think of it as such but at the current moment, the loan repayment rate has been 100%.
2 friends of mine decided to take it a step further yesterday. Vikram and Shiva cycled 24 km in a campaign to raise awareness for water. Their employers have agreed to match the first $1,500 received. Here’s a video of an exhausted Vikram explaining why they did it.