INTRODUCTION

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?

But...

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 DO!

*

WHO WE ARE

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:

  • Character: integrity, reliability, transparency, accountability and altruism.
  • Compassion: we want to work with organisations with a "heart" for the poor who are truly embedded in the community.
  • Competence: we want to work with organisations that strive for efficiency and accuracy and that value strong communication.

Read more on policies in our 'beleidsplan' (only available in Dutch at this moment):
2018-2019 Beleidsplan Kula Loans International

the team

Consisting of a small board and a number of volunteers, Kula Loans International organizational structure is fairly uncomplicated. Currently, our board consists of four people:

  • Denise Schelbergen, managing director
  • Erlijn Sie, chairperson
  • René Pieterse, treasurer
  • Niels Boertje, secretary

Our volunteers (program managers) around the world:

  • Moritz Weinzierl
  • Brian Golsteijn

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 partners

 

need

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.

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.)

 

drishtee

Drishtee, is missioned to empower communities to achieve shared prosperity. They have a track record of decades of empowering marginalized rural villages by enabling them to create community-led and managed business ecosystems with need-based solutions that demonstrate scalable and sustainable models of growth. Drishtee operates mainly in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Assam in the northern parts of India, and covers over 6000 villages, in 17 states. Together we envision to raise their standard of living in the villages in North India, through investing in and supporting Swavlamban Micro-Enterprise Groups (MEGs) linked to each other in production chains spread across different villages, building a channel for the input-output supply chain that connects the community groups to the market.

Our partner Drishtee was co-founded by Satyan Mishra (currently MD) starting in 2000 as a technology solution providor in rural area's. Satyan was selected for lifelong Ashoka Fellowship in 2004 (Ashoka Fellows are the world's leading social entrepreneurs.) after which he was selected Schwab Social Entrepreneur of the year in 2005, WEF technology pioneer in 2007, and Unesco GAP partner for Education for Sustainable Development in 2016, to name just a few.

 

coimpactob

Our local partner Coimpactob, an accelerator of triple impact projects in rural communities in Colombia, committed to democratizing sustainable development and financial inclusion to communities in extreme poverty. With 5 years of experience facilitating education and impact entrepreneurship acceleration programs for youth and rural leaders and access to water, solar energy, and sanitation solutions.

Coimpactob operates in the Guajira, a desert region in northern Colombia, composed of indigenous Wayuu communities with difficult geographical conditions, poor infrastructure, lack of access to water, energy, food, and low investment by the government. In the last 3 years, Coimpactob has benefited more than 1000 indigenous families and 5 educational institutions with its acceleration, education, potable water, and solar energy programs with the active participation of more than 20 national and international partners. *

WHAT WE DO

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.

4 steps

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:

  • Solar pump for irrigation
  • Solar powered drying technique
  • Solar powered cold storage facility for produce of orchards
  • Repair & maintenance service for solar powered equipment

programs

need - transitioning to solar - north india

In our partnership with NEED we envision the poor people residing in the Northern region of India, to raise their standard of living, by empowering them to benefit from this solar power available to them, by investing in community- as well as household owned solar-powered solutions, that increase the well-being of (the larger part) of the community in a (self-) sustainable manner.

In the Northern part of India, in the state of Uttar Pradesh, in the Lucknow district, in Gohramau village, in block Kakori, we provided a group-loan to the committee of the village community school, called Samiti. The group-loans was Euro 610, invested in a solar solution on the roof of the school, with which they power the lights, drinking water installation and fans.

solar panels on roof

On average such a school has around 150-250 girls coming. Girls pay a small fee, and the school committee used to pay electricity bills from the savings of the fees. However, electricity is very erratic, and costs are high. Some amount of their own savings, as well as the loan, are used to invest in the solar solution on the roof. Savings are directly from the cost they used to pay for electricity. The loan is repaid in monthly payments, and is expected to be paid back within 2 years time.

girls at school

The community has taken the ownership of benefitting from the school for girls facility to the fullest. Not only the girls benefit from education, with lower cost due to savings of electricity bills. Also siblings benefit from play & day care facilities.



drishtee - investing in rural production chains - north india

In our partnership with Drishtee we envision the growth of local economies in the most deprived Northern, North Eastern and Eastern regions of India, through group enterprises that not only generate income for the members, but also increase the well-being of the whole community. We will provide access to knowledge and capital, as well as support to bring the products to market. All the group enterprises we select and support, are connected in a production chain, lifting the local economy to the next level.

In Jansa village of Northern India, Anjana Singh and four of her village mates came together and set up a group owned and managed Micro-Enterprise. The group enterprise supplies fresh and pure Cow Milk to urban customers. Their goal is to become self-reliant as individuals and families and also as a business group. They started in August 2019 and are now gearing up for new product additions. Her income was an equivilant of USD 13, when she started. Currently the income of each group member is USD 25. So, a successful start of the group enterprise.

group & curd

They have expressed an ambition to grow their business, from 1 product (milk) to 4 or 5 products, think of: cheese, ghee or curd. They anticipate to grow their income to USD 90 / group member. Worth an investment, no? Next to their income, they will grow self-belief, they will boost the village economy, as well as provide fresh and healthy products to urban consumers. A win-win-win.



coimpactob - strengthen local impact entrepreneurship - colombia

In our alliance with Coimpactob we seek to strengthen local impact entrepreneurship that have participated in the acceleration programs and we have identified 2 entrepreneurship in the territory with recurring activities such as sheep breeding and tourism, which will receive training and access to community microcredits.

  • Sustainable sheep breeding - Kaula, is an enterprise specialized in the sustainable breeding and fattening of sheep and goats. They have revolutionized the traditional way of activity with the use of animal feces to produce organic fertilizer to increase the topsoil of the land. It is led by an association of sheep producers and seeks to generate collaborative networks to generate wealth and opportunities in the region.
    We seek to make this traditional sheep-breeding activity sustainable and to generate alliances between the indigenous communities to open markets and generate economic development in the region. We will be providing financing for animals, infrastructure and inputs for the activity with a payment term of 12 months and the participation of leaders in business training and financial education led by Coimpactob.
  • Sustainable tourism - Tardes Wayuu, is an example of one of the most powerful activities in La Guajira, tourism. We seek to strengthen communities in good practices towards social, environmental, and economic sustainability. Tardes Wayuu is a community and cultural tourism venture that emerged in June 2021 as a result of the impact entrepreneurial leaders program led by Coimpactob. It is composed of 6 entrepreneurs in favor of the Wayuu indigenous communities that offer ethnotourism experiences of the Wayuu culture in an indigenous, cultural, musical and entertainment space designed for national and international tourists and companies.
    They will receive funding for infrastructure in energy, sanitation and utensils for the dining rooms and tourism experience activities for a period of 12 months.
  • Solar energy - In the region of La Guajira, 98% of the Wayuu indigenous communities do not have access to electricity, water, and sanitation, and the vast majority of the communities are led by women artisans, whose way of life is through weaving. This has inspired us to grant microcredits to access solar panels that will help increase handicraft production, in addition to having access to charge their cell phones and the children of the community will be able to study at night. Thirty-five microcredits will be given to the Kayetamana community, comprising 208 people, 88% of whom are women artisan leaders, with a 2-year repayment period.
*

WHY WE DO IT

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:

  • improved livelihood
  • better environment
  • healthier living

But...

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?

*

HOW WE DO IT

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:

  1. Each loan from the fund aims to increase wellbeing at large
  2. Revolving fund is only disbursing loans to (social) ventures that are:
    • Generating income / have a sustainable business model,
    • Contributing to well-being (in the broadest way, including but not limited to Water, Sanitation, Hygiene (WASH),
    • Environmentally sustainable and
    • Empowering
  3. Operating area of partner is in the poorest region of the country/sea, or partner is committed to dedicate the revolving fund to the poorest-of-the-poor
  4. Credits/Fund for loans for communities is new to the partners
  5. After repayment of the loan(s) the "invested/implemented" technologies are owned by the group that took the loan
  6. Partners have a proven track record of capacity building and Technical Assistence (TA) to communities
  7. Willingness and active contribution to open-source sharing of learnings
  8. Partner is committed to manage a sustainable revolving fund
  9. No criminal records of Board members, no extreme pay for CEO's, low overhead, high integrity of director (and/or founder)

financial statements

Our 2021 annual report can be downloaded here (PDF format).
Download 2021 Annual report Kula loans international

Our 2020 annual report can be downloaded here (PDF format).
Download 2020 Annual report Kula loans international

Our first financial year covers the period from October 2018 to 31 December 2019 and can be downloaded here (PDF format).
Download 2019 Annual report Kula loans international

anbi status

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. Our registration number is: 859247302.

*
 

WHAT WE NEED / DONATIONS

Currently we are looking for three things:

  • a philanthropist interested to join the Board of Kula Loans International -preferably a seasoned entrepreneur
  • a leader/group of people who like to start doing the same, somewhere else in the world
  • believers who dare to donate!

 

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:

QR code Kula Loans International

*

NEWS

 

Donations for Kula loans via Give for Good

Donations for Kula Loans can now also be provided via Give for Good!

Give for Good

Give for Good helps donors support the future of a charity. Give for Good invests your donation and the charity receives interest on the investment every year. This interest continues forever and grows forever, making your donation an everlasting source of income for your favourite charity!

 

Kula loans Annual report 2021 online

2021 was more of the same as the year of 2020. The corona virus kept the world throughout the year into turmoil. With the help of our families, friends, and funders we have been able to assist our local partners to cope with the emergency assistance in the communities we work in. Furthermore we have been able to start a new strategic partnership in Colombia, aiming to support the entrepreneurial communities!

For stories, our impact and how we do it, download our 2021 Annual report.

 

Kula Loans International is starting in Colombia!

We're scaling into Colombia, with sustainable tourism in La Guaiira, as one of social ventures. Tardes Wayuu is a community and cultural tourism venture incubated by Coimpactob - a Bogota-based social impact accelerator. We're proud we've forged a strategic partnership with Coimpactob!

Supported by Coimpactob, six entrepreneurs from the Wayuu indigenous communities will offer ethnotourism experiences for national and international tourists and companies. The Kula group-loan will be invested in infrastructure, think of: energy, sanitation and utensils for the dining rooms. Good to know: 98% of the Wayuu indigenous communities do not have access to electricity, water, and sanitation. So, we're thrilled we can support to grow towards a sustainable future of this community. Stay tuned, for more communities to be supported.

 

New board member - Denise Schelbergen

Kula loans international is pleased to welcome our new Board member: Denise Schelbergen (linkedin). Denise will be taking on a leading role as managing director, which suits her profile and experience perfectly well. Denise has a business development background in the travel industry, and has seen the world. More recently she has been working as a coach to female entrepreneurs and teens to set-up and grow their dream businesses. She is a spirited, hands-on, 'role-up-your-sleeves' kind of leader, inspired by the Japanese concept of Ikigai, meaning 'a reason for being'.

We're proud to have her join our team. She'll join the current Board members René, Niels (linkedin) and Erlijn (linkedin).

 

Kula loans Annual report 2020 online

After our kick-off year of 2019, we were very much excited what 2020 would bring us. However, it was not the year we all hoped for. The year 2020 will forever be remembered as the year where the corona virus put the world into turmoil. Also for Kula Loans, and our local partners. But, the corona crisis also brought some lights of hope. Please read our Annual report 2020 for more details on how we still managed to make impact in 2020.

For real stories, our impact and how we do it, Download 2020 Annual report Kula loans international.

 

Kula loans Annual report 2019 online

Kula Loans

Traditional microfinance gives micro loans to individuals. At Kula loans, we believe that true change lies in the power of the community and that's why our loans and support go to groups who share ownership and collectively invest in solutions that aim to increase the wellbeing of their community.

We lend money to groups of people at the very bottom of the pyramid. The humans who were born into a cycle of poverty and who need to think about survival every single day, and solve problems often as a group. We believe they deserve a chance as a group too, and that by giving them a chance they can transform their own lives.

"Poverty is the deprivation of opportunity"

- Amartya Sen

We are so passionate about our mission to lift poor communities out of poverty that our group consists entirely of volunteers. That's why 98% of the funding we receive directly goes to improve the livelihoods of poor communities.

Our vision is big - by transforming one community at a time we can get closer to ending the cycle of poverty in India.

For real stories, our impact and how we do it, download our 2019 Annual report.

 

The impact of our partnership with NEED

NEED MFI

We are very excited to present to you the impact of our partnership with NEED. We are committed to be fully transparent on how we have spent the money that you were so generous to support and trust us with.

We have provided group loans to a girl’s community school and several groups of entrepreneurs in some of the poorest districts in India.

The stories of the loans are similar. The electricity from the grid in these poor districts is very unreliable leaving schools or shop owners without light or electricity and disrupting their day-to-day activities. By investing in solar-powered solutions, these communities have benefited from continuous light and electricity and lower costs. After the repayment of their loans, their electricity will be free and they will be able to create self-sustainable businesses.

The introduction of solar-powered solutions has also had a domino effect to other members of the community who have expressed interest in investing in more solar solutions in areas such as farming and transportation.

We can’t wait to see what more this partnership brings. The potential is big and the opportunities are endless!

We are in need of your continuous support to continue lifting communities out of poverty in India. Please support us here.

*

CONTACT

Kula Loans International
Leidseweg 77bis
​3531 BE Utrecht
The Netherlands

Please use our contact form or any of the social media below to contact us!
We will respond as soon as possible.









*