On September 18, 2015, Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched a significant financial inclusion initiative in Varanasi – 101 e-rickshaws and 501 cycle rickshaws and trolleys were distributed as part of the American India Foundation’s (AIF) Rickshaw Sangh Program. Nishant Pandey (AIF Country Director) and Hanumant Rawat (Head of AIF’s Rickshaw Sangh Program) were at the event to greet the Prime Minister and thank him for his support. This event was in partnership with the Bhartiya Micro Credit (BMC). AIF’s Rickshaw Sangh program works with the country’s most marginalized and exploited rickshaw pullers, promoting asset ownership of rickshaws, pushcarts and trolleys, and protects drivers from exorbitant rents and cycles of debt by providing the First Loss Default Guarantee (FLDG) to nationalized banks. To date, the program has impacted 82,412 drivers in 8 states in India.
“Our focus must be on how to make the poor of India self-reliant,” said Prime Minister Modi. “Today, in this program, we are distributing benefits to rickshaw-pullers, which have the support of banks and the American India Foundation. This program will not only change the lives of a few poor families. It marks the beginning of an initiative that would bring about a change for the fortunes of Varanasi.”
Before the event began, the Prime Minister interacted with AIF beneficiaries who had received rickshaws and push-carts. These individuals told the Prime Minister that AIF’s Rickshaw Sangh program will create better livelihood opportunities for themselves and their families.
“AIF would like to thank Prime Minister Modi for taking part in this important event,” said M.A. Ravi Kumar, the CEO of AIF. “We salute him for his dedication and commitment to empowering those who are at India’s base of the pyramid.”
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