Milaap.org, the world's first online platform to facilitate global microlending in India is reinventing doing good by treading off the beaten track. Milaap raises funds to help the poor get access to essential needs such as clean drinking water, sanitation, education, clean energy apart from livelihood opportunities through their website www.milaap.org. These funds are disbursed as loans, rather than donations.
The loans are given out to the poor at 50% lower rates compared to traditional microfinance. Milaap displays profiles of people in need of loans on the website stating the need for the loan and the amount required. Anyone with an internet connection and intent to do good can lend to them online, starting with as little as Rs. 1000 ($20). When a lender lends on Milaap, 100% of the money goes to the borrower chosen. When the borrower repays the loan, 100% of the money is returned to the lender. The lender can choose to withdraw the money, or re-lend the money to someone else in need, thereby by multiplying the impact. This makes the giving process on Milaap transparent as well as sustainable.
Now, Milaap is adding a third dimension to the giving process by making it rewarding. In a couple of recent campaigns, Milaap has begun to give out fun and quirky gifts to those who lend. In a campaign titled "Doing good, get rewarded!", Milaap has collaborated with entrepreneur-turned author Varun Agarwal to giveaway free copies of his debut novels to those who lend to his campaign (http://fundraiser.milaap.org/campaigns/anuauntybook). Funds raised on the campaign will go towards rural entrepreneurs in various parts of India. Also, in a campaign held on Mother's Day, people were encouraged to dedicate loans to their mothers, and were rewarded with caricatures of themselves in return!
Milaap also has supporters who run marathons, climb mountains, hold bake sales to raise funds for causes that they care about. Recently one of Milaap's supporters Rahul Pathak ran the TCS 10km run in Bangalore, raising funds for the cause of education. Some supporters have dedicated their birthdays to Milaap, forgoing gifts and urging people to lend to their campaigns instead. A young couple even dedicated their wedding to the cause of education, encouraging people to contribute to the campaign in place of expensive gifts at their wedding.
By creating an involved-community feel with such campaigns and making the whole lending experience fun, Milaap is seeking to revolutionize how doing good is viewed in India - it is no longer restricted to wealthy individuals who are seeking to donate or get a tax break. You can be someone who is just out of college and just begun working, or you can be a retired person who is looking to spend his hard-earned money to help others - everyone in their own small way can be involved.
By ensuring that the lending process on Milaap is transparent, sustainable and rewarding, Milaap is reinventing charity and making it fun.
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