Ramakrishna NK

Ashoka Fellow
Bangalore, Karnataka, India
Fellow Since 2011

Citation

This profile was prepared when Ramakrishna NK was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2011.
The New Idea
Ram questions the increasing focus on “access” to microcredit without equal, if not more, focus on “affordability” of microcredit. He believes that efforts to increase access to credit without first tackling affordability compromises the core purpose that underlies microfinance: bringing people out of poverty. To bridge this gap, Ram employs various strategies that bring both credit and investors closer to the poor.

Seeing peer-to-peer lending as a means to an end, Ram introduced India’s first technology platform that crowd-sources capital. He uses the integrity of this process to attract larger capital and credible partners who are aligned to controlling interest rates and delivering quality services. Rather than partnering with existing bureaucratic multinational financial institutions, Ram repurposes existing COs in rural areas to deliver financial services. He has designed processes and incentives for COs to ensure that the benefits of low-cost capital are in fact translated to borrowers. These steps have created access to microcredit at a flat 8 percent p.a. for livelihood loans compared to the average 26 percent charged by MFIs in India. Committed to reach populations and areas not typically considered viable by MFIs, Ram intends to scale deep and not wide.

Ram is also introducing new standards of social audit and transparency to create a vibrant community of investors who are deeply engaged with the vision of his organization, Rang De. This community is slowly taking ownership of the idea. The online platform has not only deepened their awareness about inequity, but also fueled investors to self-organize into city chapters where they share experiences, spread awareness, and engage closely with borrowers.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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