Create Sustainable Livelihoods

Our Story

A social worker and a technology geek - what could connect the two of us? We both were deeply influenced by people who had dedicated their lives to a larger purpose.

While I was influenced by my grandparents who had found a unique and powerful way of influencing communities around them, Ram discovered the power of empathy in a college event that he led. In a campus that was more known for its violence than academics, Ram hosted a fundraiser and celebrated the birthdays of orphaned kids from Missionaries of Charity. As an unprecedented response to this, Ram saw the entire college unite for a common purpose that was much larger than themselves and personal differences. Deeply influenced by our experiences, it was only natural that we decided to partner, initially as fellow changemakers and later on as life partners.

Smita Ram

Chief Executive Officer

Ram NK

Director

Our Idea

The idea behind Rang De emerged in 2006, the same year when Muhammad Yunus won the Nobel Peace Prize for his work in the field of microcredit. We felt that credit could be a powerful tool to help people fight poverty in India as well. As we explored the idea, we realised that there was already a lot of microfinance in the country. However, we stumbled upon an article that spoke about borrowers of a microfinance institution having ended their lives because they were unable to repay their loans. That’s when we realised something was wrong and something had to be done about it.

Our idea was to leverage the power of the internet to connect individuals who want to make a difference in a sustainable manner, to thousands of individuals who are either denied or not offered credit. By tapping into the power of many, and decentralising the source of funds, we would be able to significantly reduce interest rates on our loans. We shared this idea with our well-wishers who quickly validated it as something that could potentially change the lives of millions of credit-starved individuals across the country.

The Journey

What next? We had an idea but we soon realised that ideas don’t necessarily get funded when all our requests to secure seed funding were promptly rejected. We then decided to bootstrap Rang De with our own savings of GBP 6000. Once we were firm on this intent, things started to magically happen. We on-boarded a technology partner and branding and communications partner - both of whom agreed to work with us almost pro-bono. It was almost like the universe was planning things for us and one step kept leading to the other.

With every new step, there were new roadblocks as well. We were talking about peer to peer lending in 2008 when it was unheard of in India. A big roadblock was a lack of legal clarity when it came to structuring Rang De. We reached out to the who’s who of the microfinance sector and were fortunate to get the early support of Dr. Nachiket Mor. We finally launched Rang De on 26th January 2008, with the backing of ICICI Foundation.

From 2008 to 2017, we worked with a single-minded focus on lowering the cost of credit to the end borrower. Our mandate was simple - make credit affordable and accessible to millions of excluded individuals. There were several questions on how the model would work and whether it would take off. We made mistakes but we quickly learnt from those and continued to build robust systems. The more open and transparent we were, the more support we got. The credit for everything that we achieved during these 9 years goes to our impact partners and our social investors. They believed in us and in Rang De, sometimes even more than we did. Along the way, we also won several awards, recognition, and support, including Ram being elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2012, and subsequent funding support from Tata Trusts in 2015.

Winds of Change

In 2017, RBI regulated the peer to peer lending sector. It was a welcome move but we knew it would have its implications on Rang De. While until 2017, we operated as a public charitable trust, in the wake of the regulations, we had to set up a pvt. limited company. It also meant applying for an NBFC P2P license with RBI. While all of these were structural changes and could still be dealt with, there was just one thing we were most worried about and that was our uncompromising mission of providing credit at affordable interest rates. We were also concerned about raising equity investments from mission-aligned individuals. Our community of social investors came to our rescue yet again. Many of our long term social investors came forward to express their faith in us and also offered support as equity investors.


The Gap Year

From 2018 to 2019, we went through a roller coaster ride. While support poured in, we were also aware of the huge responsibility on our shoulders. We wanted to ensure that Rang De in its new avatar becomes much better than before. This meant changes in our business model, in structures, systems, and most importantly in mindsets. We didn’t shy away from these changes, and while we waited for the final nod from RBI, we kept preparing for the new beginning.

Our Equity Investors

Our equity investors are not just ordinary investors. A majority of our equity investors are social investors who knew us from RangDe.org and believed in Rang De’s mission and in us. We are so fortunate to have had their support. Thanks to them we were able to raise the minimum funding of Rs.2 crores that was needed to file for the NBFC P2P license with RBI, in record time. Many others are continuing to invest in the new entity. If you would like to invest or know more, please write to [email protected]

A New Beginning

We received our final go-ahead from RBI on 30th August 2019 and went live on 1st September 2019.

A Team on a Mission

In a world where many people are yet to discover the exciting space of social enterprises, we are a tribe of individuals committed to bringing about change in India. While each of us has a unique reason to be a part of the Rang De team, we all believe in teamwork, we believe nothing is impossible and that everyone is a leader.


If you want to be a part of the team, drop us a note at [email protected]

Professor P. Sudarshan

Mentor

Professor Sudarshan started the venture capitalist movement in India, structured two very successful funds, mentored over 2000 start-ups, among many other achievements. It’s an honour to have him as our mentor.

Mr. Mahadevan Chandrashekhar

Mentor

Mr.Chandrashekar has mentored several companies, three of which are now listed companies in India. He keeps us focused on our purpose, and always on our toes. We can’t thank our stars enough for his guidance.

Smita Ram

Co-founder and CEO

Smita’s belief in the power of civil society to influence change has been instrumental in shaping Rang De. She has a Master's Degree in social work and rich experience working for social initiatives in India as well as the UK.

Ram NK

Co-founder and Director

Ram was chosen for the Ashoka Fellowship in 2012 in recognition of Rang De’s game-changing efforts to lower the cost of credit. Prior to starting Rang De, Ram worked as Principal Consultant for Vignette Europe Limited.

Mr. KK Rajan

Chief Financial Advisor

Mr.Rajan has worked for large corporates such as Kirloskar and Thoughtworks, as well as with smaller start-ups. He is Rang De's Chief Financial Advisor, overseeing the critical functions of finance and compliance.

Mr. Kamlesh Shankar

Chief Creative Advisor

His words create magic and his passion for Rang De works wonders. Kamlesh has worked as a senior copywriter in India as well as in the United Arab Emirates and serves as Rang De's Chief Creative Advisor.

Sunil D'Monte

Chief Technical Architect

Sunil has been working in the software industry since the late nineties. Today he consults in the social-change space and lucky for us, Rang De's mission and values were a natural fit for him.

Swati Agarwal

Vice President - Technology

Swati is the force that powers the development of Rang De’s platform. She worked for well-known organizations such as Capgemini and Cognizant, before making the transition into the social sector.

Ghansyam Kooram

Chief Product Officer - Technology

Ghansyam sees a promising future where technology solves some of the world’s most pressing problems. Prior to Rang De, he worked for over two decades in technology positions at Habba, Sharp, and IBM.

Amoghavarsha Patil

Associate Product Manager

Amogh has worked as an engineer and a banker and brings this blended experience to his role at Rang De. He’s on a mission to turn Rang De into a world-class product that rapidly expands access to fair credit in India.

Sonali Chakraborty

Manager - Impact and Operations

Sonali personifies empathy and excellence. She began her career fulfilling the education requirements of girl students and HIV-infected children, and joined Rang De because her role allows her to make a significant impact.

Preethi Mary John

Manager - Empathy

Preethi is a passionate person who cares deeply about women and children's rights. She completed her Masters in Social Work from Madras School of Social Work and prior to joining Rang De, was working with Greenpeace.

Chandni Sawlani

Manager - Engagement

Chandni comes alive when she is able to engage people and elicit a joyful and vibrant version of them. She has a Bachelor in Computer Applications and is passionate about technology that drives social change.

Aseem Khan

Senior Manager - Operations

Aseem has completed a Bachelor in Business Administration and is a Six Sigma Green Belt. He is an operations specialist and has more than eight years of experience across Startups, Trusts, and Corporates.

Join the community

We see credit as that financial opportunity that could help people overcome poverty. A big step to help India become a developed country. However, what we think, believe and do, makes for just one part of the story. Rang De is just the platform, our social investors, are the true changemakers. And if this community of 15,000 becomes a movement of 1.5 million - then we are getting closer to solving the problem.

Join Rang De's community of social investors, invest any amount of your choice and see the impact you are able to create.