Pallab Sarker, lead singer of fast rising UK indie band ICON, has teamed up with Sheethal Mehta Walsh, one of the UK’s top female business women, to raise money for Indian slum entrepreneurs whose businesses provide everything from rickshaw rental to rattrap manufacturing. All the proceeds of the band’s new album ‘Morning in Brixton’ will be donated to Sheetal’s new ‘not for profit’; microfinance fund – ShantiMicrofinance – which provides start-up funds for Indian slum and village entrepreneurs.
Sheetal, who was also former Director of VC relations at Microsoft, has set up Shantimicrofinance to provide a clean break with previous microfinance funds operating in developed parts of the world by being strictly not for profit, which means it can charge interest rates of 12 per cent rather than the industry average of 40 per cent. The money from the interest is used to hire local people to administer the microfinance loans, training and improvements to the start-up ecosystem to help ensure sustainability.
The fund is being backed by some of the world’s leading entrepreneurs including Brent Hoberman, co Founder of Lastminute.com and James Cahn from BBC TV show Dragon’s Den. Brent Hoberman, Founder of Lastminute and Mydeco said: “Shanti Microfinance will be an enormous success because it taps into the entrepreneurial spirit which is alive in every corner of the world; from the beaches of California to the slums and villages of Mumbai. Successful entrepreneurs will find affinity with Shanti because it provides a practical way to help their peers who don’t have access to banking basics, or a start-up ecosystem.”
Pallab has stood out for the last five years on the London gigging circuit as a British Asian who leads an indie band. His band ICON has been a slow burning phenomenon but has been tipped to go mainstream with the launch of this new album ‘Morning in Brixton’. With the UK indie music scene still devoid of Asian stars there is a growing belief in the music industry that Pallab is set to change all that.
Kanya King, Founder and CEO of MOBO has already said “I am delighted to see that London indie band ICON is led by a British Asian -helping to push ethnic minorities to the forefront of popular culture. The real story though is that these boys are extremely talented and deserve success.”
ICON also broke ground by performing a concert with former Police Minister Tony McNulty live in the Home Office raising over