Diwali may be an occasion to meet loved ones and indulge in festive revelry; it can also be a good time to open your heart so others can share this joy.
Bengaluru-based online lending platform Milaap.org has conceptualised a fundraising campaign, titled Light Up A Community.
The campaign aims to help communities get access to solar lighting and improved cook stoves. One can contribute even `500 or `1,000. “Every contribution is matched by our US-based supporter, Arc Finance. The money that you give is not a ‘donation’ but a loan to the borrower. You will get your entire money back within 9 to 12 months,” explains Sourabh Sharma, CEO and co-founder, Milaap.org.
With over one-third or 400 million people living without electricity in India, solar light can help boost a family’s income, allow children to study after dark and prevent respiratory diseases, adds Sharma. Their target for the Diwali campaign is to raise `32 lakhs; the minimum amount for Milaap to be eligible for matching the amount is `16 lakh. If they manage to hit the target by Diwali, solar lanterns and cooking stoves will be provided to 10,000 individuals. Around `7.5 lakhs has been raised so far.
After you lend on the site, you will receive an update on your loan — where and how the capital has been used. Also every month, you will receive repayments, which can be used to help other borrowers on Milaap or you can withdraw the money, entirely.
Sharma explains how borrowers benefit from this: “They don’t have the funds to purchase solar lanterns or install a cook stove. But they have the capacity to pay back in monthly installments, as these are India’s working poor (eg: labourers, zari workers etc). We provide basic amenities, borrowers repay the money and the lenders get back their entire loan and avail a chance to do good.”
Launched by Sourabh Sharma, Anoj Viswanathan, and Mayukh Choudary in June 2010, Milaap.org is a social enterprise that merges the experience of development and technology sectors. Viswanathan worked with SKS Microfinance and witnessed the impact of a $10 solar lantern, sold on credit, to the tribal poor in Odisha. The trio, saw two major problems with the model. It lacked focus with regard to end utilisation of loans and created proprietors, not entrepreneurs. There was a gap, and Milaap.org was established to overcome the gap and cater to outcome-based lending —loans given for a specific purpose and whose progress is monitored. The company is based in Bengaluru.