21 October 2010

Rickshaw Bank ~ Pradip Sarmah @ D-Ventures!

Our MIT Development Ventures (DV) seminar this Thursday morning welcomed Ashoka Lemelson Fellow, Dr Pradip Sarmah, the Executive Director of Rickshaw Bank, an initiative of the Centre for Rural Development, India. The Bank is an award-winning example of a microfinancier of income-earning assets, in this case a transportation vehicle, a cycle rickshaw or pedicab. Their asset-based loan to the rickshaw driver is repaid daily over a one-to-two year loan duration. Full and timely repayment leads to ownership by the driver. The Bank have made some 10,000 loans to-date and over 4,000 of the drivers are now full owners. Growth opportunities are huge, given that there are 8 million drivers in India alone, most of whom simply rent their vehicles and never become owners. While this example is in India and is about a specific vehicle-type, there are many compelling lessons to be learned about building and/or operating a microfinance venture, payment systems and practices, asset manufacturing, distribution, and repair, and more. Dr Sarmah's visiting MIT for two weeks and will speak again together with D-Lab Cycle Ventures instructor Gwyn Jones next week in a discussion I'm moderating...

D-Lab Innovators Series featuring
Dr Pradip Sarmah of Rickshaw Bank
7PM on Tue, Oct 26 @ MIT 3-133
Hosted by the MIT International Development Initiative

And here's a Wall Street Journal article on Dr Sarmah and the Bank, Rickshaws Drive Entrepreneurship.

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