Founder - Rickshaw Bank
Dr. Pradeep Sarmah used to provide veterinary services all over Guwahati. On day he had to travel by a cycle Rickshaw on not getting any other transport. He got into the conversation with the Rickshaw puller. Their plight, cycling in the scorching sun and drenching rain, dragging people and luggage all day and living on pavements shook him. After paying the rent of Rickshaw Rs. 25 they would be left with barely Rs. 50/-. To understand this community better he studies 300 rickshaw pullers in Guwahati. He found out that 95% of them had no financial stability and dignity in society. Most of them rented rickshaws every day. The existing rickshaw needed technical and design changes for which he approached IIT Guwahati who helped him design a rickshaw that was lighter in weight, well-covered and large exteriors display advertisements to generate revenue
Scalability and Impact:
With the design in hand, Pradip set out to make the Rickshaw pullers own their Rickshaws, and started the RICKSHAW BANK. Approaching Corporate Houses Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC), Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) and Hindustan Unilever Limited, he raised Rs 7 Lakh from each of them, by promising them free advertisement for 3 years. He also set up a Rickshaw production and repair unit, providing employment to 18 youth. 500 Rickshaw pullers got their Rickshaws from this fund. Owning the Rickshaw from day 1, the Rickshaw pullers paid Rs. 20/- daily, till they repaid back the loan in 10-12 months. This allowed the Rickshaw Bank to collect Rs. 10,000/- every day. After covering administrative expenses, the remaining money went toward purchasing and manufacturing new rickshaws. The Rickshaw Bank’s average monthly repayment rate was 92%. This concept was replicated in other states too, and till now over 15,000 Rickshaw pullers and 1,00,000 beneficiaries have benefited from it Sarmah, who was recently invited to present his case study to Harvard Business School and discuss technical challenges with Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), stated that financing rickshaw pullers could become a huge business opportunity. Dr Pradip Sarmah who was elected as an Ashoka Fellow in 2001, still runs the Veterinary Clinic and the Rickshaw Bank. He has shown that all it takes to succeed is common sense, smart thinking, and a Do-it attitude. Rest everything falls in place.
Awards and Recognition:
Volvo Suatainable Mobility Award