Social Investor stories: Pradnya Karbhari’s commitment to changeThe social investors choosing to support the Rang De model.
Over the past ten years, thousands of people have come forward to support our mission of promoting financial inclusion and alleviating poverty. Many of these social investors have been our pillars of support and their passion and commitment to the cause has been a touchstone for our own work. Pradnya Kharbari is one such social investor who inspires many of us with her understated passion and commitment to change.
A software engineer by training and a former employee of Google, Pradnya’s association with charities and NGOs began early, during her days as a graduate student in the USA, when she volunteered for charities like Child Rights and You (CRY) and VIBHA.
After nearly a decade spent abroad, Pradnya shifted back to India some 11 years ago and has since continued her association with the social sector.
Association with Rang De
Pradnya had been hearing about Rang De through her friends for years but stopped shy of involving herself with the organisation because she was unsure of the whole process of providing loans “My main question initially was how to handle the interest component of it. And initially I didn’t have any clear answers about that.” she says.
Things changed when one of her colleagues at Google asked her to host Ramakrishna NK and Smita, the founders of Rang De, for a talk within the organisation. After the talk, she approached the founders to clarify things further and better understand the model of providing low-cost microcredit.
“I approached them [Ram and Smita] more… as a contributor, what it means for me, who are the people who are benefitting. That talk clarified a lot of things for me in my mind” she says.
And she hasn’t looked back since.
During her time at Google, Pradnya was the chairperson of the ‘Google India Women in Engineering’ for two years, where she helped select candidates for the Anita Borg scholarships, providing “women students in computer science” with scholarships. The field of computer technology is notoriously male-dominated and as a passionate advocate for ‘Women in Tech’ Pradnya naturally gravitates towards women’s empowerment.
In her association with Rang De, this has translated towards her supporting individual women entrepreneurs. Another cause that Pradnya believes in is the universal access to education.
“I totally believe in education for everyone,” she says. “I can see many aspiring students who really want to study but don’t have the resources. I really like the fact that I can help at least some students get the education they want.”
Supporting the Rang De model
During our conversation, Pradnya mentions providing a loan to her household help so she could meet some immediate expenses “I could see it benefiting her a lot, because she doesn’t have to go to an external loan shark and get the money at 20–25 % or whatever right?”
Almost immediately, she could see the same principle at work when she donated and provided people a loan through Rang De.
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