I am Sudhakar, a Milaap Open Fellow and I joined in the first week of July. Since then, I have been blatantly promoting the platform on social media, including personally on calls, texts, Whatsapp etc. I have been lending and relending on Milaap for a few years myself. However, I had never really gone out of my way to convince people to get on Milaap and lend. I talked about like I would recommend a song or a restaurant that I liked. But, when one joins a new organisation, things change.
When I joined ITC back in 2008, I explain it as a company that manufactured and sold atta, biscuits, and cigarettes, amongst other things. Then I joined Housing.com, a couple of years ago. It became a little difficult to explain to the older generation what the business was because it was internet based. But I got around to saying that it is like an online brokerage firm for real estate listings.
Then, a few months back, Milaap happened. I would go on and on about Milaap when anyone asked me what I did. The responses I got when I spoke about were very different from anything I had heard before. However, this blog is not about the mechanics of the operations of Milaap. To know anything about that, you can visit the website and get the information. This blog is about me trying to convince others to lend for social causes.
So, a typical conversation with my friends and relatives while promoting Milaap was such (simplified for the sake of the blog):
Me: Have you ever lent on Milaap.org or any other crowdfunding platform?
Her / Him : No, I have not.
Me: Why not?
Her / Him : I don’t think I have sufficient information to trust donations online.
Me : But, I am not asking you to donate. I am asking you to “lend”.
Her / Him: (Surprised) Does that mean I will get my money back? But, what if the loan is not put to right use?
Me: Milaap has a 98% repayment rate so far in 6 years!
Her / Him: (Surprised again) 2% default higher than the non-performing assets of public sector banks in India!
Me: Yeah! Thats what I am saying! You just will not earn any interest on the amount lent.
Her / Him: So, basically I will only lose the interest rate that I would have otherwise earned through savings bank account or fixed deposit or any other investment.
Me: Absolutely correct! Plus, you will earn a lot of karma points! So, will you lend now?
Her / Him: I will think about it.
Me: I will chase you till you do!
The point I am trying to make is that there are a lot of people who are not aware of the difference between ‘Donate’ and ‘Lend’. And lots of people are not aware that there are crowdfunding platforms.
From an individual’s perspective:
If you lend Rs 1000 to an individual who repays the loan in 2 years, you will get back Rs 1000 in total.
At the current fixed deposit rate of 7.5%, in two years for an investment of Rs 1000, you would get back Rs 1150 in 2 years.
So, in a nutshell, when you ‘lend’ Rs 1000, you are, in a way, ‘donating’ Rs 150 two years from now in the future.
But your Rs 150 has created a much larger impact for the individual or the group that you have lent to. So, the next time you visit an expensive restaurant or are thinking of buying more clothes that you don't really need, I urge you to think about the futures of the individuals whose dreams you can fund with that money. And then visit Milaap.org. Or else, I will chase you till you do!