By Neyaz Farooquee
Irfan Alam showed signs of enterprise early in life — at 13, he had already invested in the stock exchange. Armed with a master’s in business management from IIM Ahmedabad, he returned to his native Barauni — 120 km from Patna — and started Sammaan, an organisation that arranges loans from nationalised banks for rickshaw-pullers. The organisation helps rickshaw-pullers and their families get health insurance cover. Each puller is also given an identity card to enable customers to call back in case of a complaint. The specially designed rickshaw also carries snacks to be sold to customers during rides. Besides, advertisements are placed on rickshaws as a source of revenue. The earnings from eatables and advertisements are shared on a 50:50 basis between the puller and Sammaan. Started in 2007, this initiative has travelled beyond Bihar to West Bengal, UP, Jharkhand, MP and Odisha. “In two to three years time, a rickshawpuller is able to pay back his loan and is a proud owner of a rickshaw. He has a bank account also where he can keep his savings,” says Alam. He now plans to start a cooperative bank for rickshawpullers, a low-cost shelter for them and a manufacturing unit for rickshaws.
Alam can be reached at +0612-3260433 [email protected]