Friday, August 1, 2014

Milaap ----loan a little, help a lot

Have you heard of MILAAP ( ? It's an online platform that enables you to lend to India's working poor. It’s a loan that you extend, a helping hand, not a donation. I wasn't very certain when I made my first loan a couple of years ago that it'd be returned, so the mail from MILAAP two months later that the first repayment installment by the borrower had been credited to my account brought a smile to my face.The second installment was paid the next month, and I became exceedingly confident that the whole amount will be re paid as scheduled. It was. Over a period of 2 years, I have made more than 40 loans via Milaap, which have either been re paid in full or are in the process of being repaid. 

This is how MILAAP works.

Milaap partners with established organizations that have a strong presence at the grass roots and a deep understanding of the 150 million Indian households with no access to water, sanitation, healthcare, education and energy. Milaap and its field partners design customized loan programs and Milaap then shares requirements, backgrounds and photos of all borrowers. The online listing of borrower profiles enables the lender to select the cause and the borrower of his choice and give a loan of minimum USD 50 or Rs 1000. 

Every month, Milaap sends the total loan collected to its various field partners who disburse the loans. Throughout the loan cycle, the field partners regularly monitor the progress of the borrowers and collect repayments from the borrowers. Milaap makes monthly deposits of the repaid loan instalments into the lender's Milaap account. At the end of the loan cycle, the lender can choose to withdraw the repaid loan amount or decide to relend it to another borrower on Milaap. Through re-lending, a small loan goes a long way and gathers impact.

Its so much better than a one time donation, isn't it? Of course, charitable donations have their place, but if the working poor of India can be empowered to become completely self dependent and capable of living their lives with dignity, with access to clean drinking water, sanitation, education and medical care, wouldn't that be so much better? Can we, the privileged middle class, who have every need taken care of, and still have enough money to splurge on movies,music, books, vacations, gourmet food, luxury brands etc etc not pledge to extend our less fortunate brethren a helping hand ? 

Notwithstanding inflation and a thousand competing demands, All of us can budget for small loans that go a long way. Lets do it ! 

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