Monthly Archives: November 2006

Credit Worthy

It was a rather hot summer day in Salem. I was sitting in front of a manager in the main branch office of the Indian Bank. He was a typical public servant with a non-committed kind of a body language.

I had a spiral bound Areca leaf cup plate manufacturing unit project report in my hand. Velmurugan was sitting next to me. We needed 80,000 rupees as a loan to start the unit.

I explained him the fundamentals of the project, and how we could break-even within a year. I was all in the report. He was hesitating to open it.

“Do you have any collateral?”, he was pointing the question to Velmurugan.

“You see, we don’t want to give any loans to people in Samudram village. They have taken loans before and almost all of them have defaulted. They are not credit-worthy”

Velmurugan is from Samudram, which is where we were hoping to set up the unit.

We walked out of the bank. The meeting lasted ten minutes.

Its almost been a year and half since then. We funded Velmururgan from the prize money from winning the Imagine Cup. The unit is up and running.

I was in the train this morning reading The price of a Dream – The Story of Grameen Bank’. The default rate among the borrowers of Grameen Bank is one percent. It is also true for many other microcredit organizations, through out the world, including rural Tamil Nadu.

P.S. I’m really looking forward to a panel discussion tomorrow with David Bornstein, the author of the book and other Reynolds Fellowship recipients on the topic of microcredit.

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Being Human

I take a class this semester with Prof. Paul Light, which deals with the emerging trends in the non-profit sector, including Social Entrepreneurship and Social enterprises. Part of the class, involves us writing a weekly memo, on a assigned topic by Prof. Light. The topic a couple of weeks back was ‘What is Social Entrepreneurship’ ?

I took the liberty of writing him a poem. I titled it ‘Being Human’ .

Prof. Light,

People say this is an important time in history,
Were they saying the same a hundred years ago? It’s a mystery,
The world is changing; it is different than what it was a little while ago,
Its true nobody likes to maintain status quo.

What has this got to do with Social Entrepreneurship you may ask?
In a changing world the reality is stark,
While human progress has touched the lives of a lucky few,
For the majority of the rest, a bright future is necessarily untrue.

While the governments don’t care and businesses are choosey,
Non-profits do intervene, but sometimes they are very lazy,
We can sit back and say, hey, let it be,
There are a few who imagine a better world they want to see.

It’s been around for years, the concept is not new,
But, the problems are many, the solutions too few,
‘It’s a cartel of good intentions’, but with an open membership,
Someone just ended up calling it Social Entrepreneurship.

The topic has been the hardest to define,
I wonder why, with so many people on the line,
May be because Social Entrepreneurship is very common,
If we look deep inside, we will realize it’s just being human!

– Santhosh Ramdoss
(With crazy intentions of one day becoming a poet)

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