Rakesh Dubey and Anup Sing, India
Before becoming leaders in fighting poverty, Rakesh and Anup had to walk in the same pair of shoes.
In 1997, Rakesh Dubey and Anup Kumar Sing were recent college graduates with dreams of fighting poverty and changing the world. When their opportunity came to interview with CASHPOR, a prominent Indian microfinance institution and Grameen Foundation partner, they only had one pair of good dress shoes between them. They drove frantically all morning looking for shoe shops, but they were all closed. With this dilemma, the pair had the chance to see firsthand just how creative some microfinance borrowers have to be in order to survive.
“We both interviewed, and it went well,” Anup said. “But what was happening during the whole process was there was only one pair of shoes. So one person goes for the interview, came out, said, ‘Okay take off the shoes,’ and gave it to the second person, then he went for the interview.”
Rakesh and Anup were hired and even though they proved to be leaders at the MFI, gradually transitioning into general manager and deputy general manager positions, they felt like there was more they could do to serve the poor. “In India, it’s such a big market,” Rakesh said. “We need more players to be coming there…we feel that we should work for the poor, and we should try to work in those areas that are unserved, rather than competing with each other in the same market.”
When they started Sonata, a new MFI, in January 2006 in the state of Uttar Pradesh, Grameen Foundation was there to help. “Becoming a member of Grameen Foundation is a proud thing,” Rakesh said. “From the day we left CASHPOR and went to start Sonata, we were in conversations with Grameen Foundation. We had that kind of one-to-one relationship that makes you feel like family.” Today, Sonata serves just over 84,000 clients.
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