What if you were part of a group of women, in Uttar Pradesh (in the north of India), producing flowers to make a living, and you could invest in a solar-powered cold storage facility? It would double your income, simply because you would sell more flower petals for ceremonies at the temple, as they stay longer with low temperatures.
Now, imagine you are a member of a group of four farmers, producing mango, banana or guava, in Bihar ( in the north of India), earning hand-to-mouth, barely sufficient to provide for your family. What if you could invest together in a solar-powered drying machine, so part of all your produce could be dried and sold later in the season, or sold for a higher price to shops in nearby villages and cities?
More income means more food and due to better food, your kids can concentrate better at school, or perhaps you can even save for times of bad health. Using solar power means: better for the environment (avoiding pollution) than for example using a diesel engine, and being less dependent on the electricity grid - if there is any. And above all: the sun is for free! Sounds like a good plan?
There's nobody around who wants to lend you the money, because you are part of a community which is poor and has no collateral. And the solar-power technology is too expensive to be paid for with a individual micro credit. Moreover, there's no information availalable on how such a solar-powered cold storage or drying machine works. And above all, there is nobody who believes in you being able to make this work. Now, here is something new for you:
We are Kula Loans International, "Kula" in Sanskrit means "community of the heart". At Kula Loans International we dare to take the risk to provide loans to such groups, willing to invest in solutions which will be beneficial to all members of the groups, their families and the well-being of their larger communities. Imagine, others will get familiar with solar powered techniques, and more and more groups will try to increase their income through enterprises like the ones described: a solar powered rickshaw to bring produce to the market, solar powered irrigation, as well as repair shops becoming viable opportunities. Kula Loans International is a foundation that invests in groups of people that want to implement solutions that foster the well-being of their communities.
Kula Loans was founded in 2018 and is based in The Netherlands. We believe that the power of true transformation lies within any community. We also believe communal well-being to be the cornerstone of a thriving society. While traditional microcredit provides small loans to individuals with household businesses, Kula Loans aims at broadening the possibilities by reaching out to groups, and through group enterprises to the entire community. We are providing our loans via local partners.
We cooperate with local partners that share our vision and work according to the following key operational values:
Our (first) local partner is NEED, with several years of experiences in promoting value based economic cum social enterprises, and 15+ years of operations in education, skill training and value based fast growing non-farm & farm sector. NEED operates in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Uttarakhand and West Bengal (in the north of India), and covers over 6500 villages. Together we envision the poor people residing in the Northern region of India, to raise their standard of living, by empowering them to benefit from the solar power available to them, by investing in collectively owned solar-powered solutions, that increase the well-being of (the larger part of) their communities financially and environmentally sustainable manner.
Read more on policies in our 'beleidsplan' (only available in Dutch at this moment):
2018-2019 Beleidsplan Kula Loans International
Consisting of a small board and a number of volunteers, Kula Loans International organizational structure is fairly uncomplicated. Currently, our board consists of three people:
Our volunteers support us with our online communication, content development and other activities. Our co-founders, Niels and Erlijn, have done relevant activities before. Erlijn is co-founder of Microcredit for Mothers, a foundation aiming to support women in Asia to set up their own business through small loans, provide the opportunity to save and get professional, entrepreneurial and leadership trainings. Currently the revolving fund provides loans to (over) 5000 families per year, in 8 different countries. Niels has been volunteering with Microcredit for Mothers for around 10 years, building the partner network of that organisation in the India and Nepal region over the past years.
None of the board members or volunteers receive any salary or compensation for their efforts.
Our partner NEED was founded in 1995 by Anil K. Singh, who started microfinance services in 2005, culminating in him founding NEED Livelihood microfinance in 2015. Anil has been selected for lifelong Ashoka Fellowship in 1998 (Ashoka Fellows are the world's leading social entrepreneurs. They champion innovative new ideas that transform society's systems, providing benefits for everyone and improving the lives of millions of people.)
We provide the revolving funds, and the technical assistance, to invest in community-owned technologies that will increase the well-being of the community. We start now with solar-powered technologies, in India. The funds provides credits for groups of people, to facilitate access to solar power technology, assistance to groups to set-up social enterprises to run/exploit those solar powered techniques.
Since solar power is new in the region (Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and West Bengal) only few of the people have ever heard of "solar" power and its potential, so we have to invest in creation of the demand, and the market for solar power (services) and products using solar power technologies. For this, we will support our partner to introduce household solar devices as well, just to build the market, to familiarize the people with solar power devices, for the sake of market-creation. We will start the Revolving fund for group-owned solar-technologies, by piloting a couple of solar powered technologies to groups that expressed interest. Based upon the needs expressed by the groups, we will start piloting the following techniques:
As a start, our focus is on rural communities in the poorest districts of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, the poorest and socio-economically most backward states in India, the second lowest in terms of a composite Human Development Index. Approximately 47% of the state population lives below the poverty line and, according World Bank estimates, 10% of the world's poor live in these states.
Ultimately, we aim to raise the standard of living of the poor people in this Northern region of India, by creating access to solar power, utilizing this renewable (non-polluting) resource will result in better environment (amongst others: reduce forces of deforestation, no pollution) and increased livelihood opportunities. Thus, the impact will be an increased well-being, through:
There's something else to it too. This is just a start - a pilot project so to say -. We want to start here, and share all our learnings, approaches and how-to's with others. With everybody who is interested to do the same, through our online global movement "Credits for Communities" (coming soon, stay tuned!). Because, if others follow suit, we can really scale impact and make a difference.
Each destination is reached by taking the first step. Do you dare to take it with us?
Kula Loans is a foundation managed by professionals, united by their passion to reduce poverty; They all provide their time, expertise and network for free, to assure that each donated euro will directly go to the people in India.
We always work through local partners, either Non-Gouvernemental Organisations (NGO's) or Microfinance Institutions (MFI's) that have long established trust-based relations with the local communities. Our partners get their cost compensation from the interest the groups pay. We select our partners based on the following selection criteria:
As a fresh started initiative our first financial year is from October 2018 to 31 December 2019. Soon after we will publish our first financial report via this website.
Kula Loans International has been granted the ANBI status (ANBI = "Algemeen Nut Beogende Instelling", a Dutch not-for-profit foundation aiming to create benefits for the society as a whole) on 10th of October 2018.
Currently we are looking for three things:
Donations are very welcome at:
Stichting Kula Loans International
NL86 RABO 0334 5335 62
Alternatively you can use the geef.nl donation platform (supporting iDeal, bank transfer, credit card, paypal payment types) by pressing the folowing link:
CLICK TO DONATE AND SUPPORT KULA LOANS NOW!
or by scanning:
Kula Loans International
3531 BE Utrecht
Please use our contact form or any of the social media below to contact us!
We will respond as soon as possible.