The success of campaigns related to COVID causes launched by top Indian crowdfunding platforms proves their acceptance among the masses and the role they can play in fighting calamities
Ketto, an Indian crowdfunding platform, raised over Rs 115 crore through its campaigns related to Covid-19 and registered a 4X growth during the lockdown. ImpactGruru, another such platform, saw donations double per minute post COVID averaging 2.5 donations per minute now. Faircent, a P2P lending platform, disbursed loans worth Rs 1,150 crore between April 2020 and March 2021.
Those are impressive numbers. The success of these crowdfunding platforms proves that calamities indeed bring humans together. And, that the pandemic was no different. In fact, the PM Cares Fund, set up by the Prime Minister of India to channelise philanthropic contributions towards the fight against corona, also used the crowdfunding mechanism. It also proves that such platforms, if used in the right manner, can help innumerable people access aid.
“For the first time in eight years, Ketto has seen a surge in first-time donors across Tier II and Tier III cities. We recorded a 300 per cent increase in first-time donors in the last one year,” said Varun Sheth, Founder and CEO, Ketto. Apart from scores of campaigns for medical emergencies, Ketto supported several fundraisers for small entrepreneurs and SMEs. One such SME was The House of Artisans, which makes handmade products and employs about 200 rural artisans. The lockdown jolted it out of business forcing Shineel Tilwani, the founder, to start a fundraiser on Ketto. It raised Rs 42 lakh. Another successful effort was for Rambo Circus, which had to shut down operations due to the pandemic. It raised about Rs 12.5 lakh to support about 90 staff and troop members.
ImpactGuru, primarily a medical fundraising platform, raised about Rs 15 crore through its COVID related campaigns. One of the prominent ones being KVN Foundation’s ‘FeedMyCity’ drive through which freshly cooked meals were given to needy families in Bangalore, Hyderabad, Mumbai, Noida and Chennai. The campaign raised more than Rs 60 lakh helping the foundation serve over 460,000 meals in 10 days. Through another fundraiser for Mumbai-based Café Arpan, the platform raised Rs 28.85 lakh to support the staff of the eatery. “We have witnessed donors contribute to campaigns to procure medical equipment, PPE kits, masks, face shields, sanitizers, ventilators, etc. for healthcare workers and frontline workers,” said Piyush Jain its Co-Founder and CEO. The platform is currently running India’s biggest medical crowdfunding initiative — #IndiaFightsSMA — to help raise funds for patients needing Zolgensma, the world’s most expensive drug (Rs 18 crore approximately) for children diagnosed with Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA) Type 1, a rare fatal genetic disorder.
The overwhelming response on the crowdfunding platforms has left even the founders surprised. “Fueladream played the role of an enabler and a catalyst to connect those who wanted to support those who needed help. The funders have been very generous as the momentum of funding has remained the same over the last 12 months,” said Ranganath Thota, Founder and CEO, Fueladream. The platform helped raise more than Rs 10 crore through COVID-related fundraisers impacting about three lakh people. The platform supported a campaign by the Sittilingi Organic Farmers Association (SOFA), a collective of 500 tribal farmers in Tamil Nadu, whose produce of 80 tonnes of organic turmeric powder was lying unsold. The campaign raised Rs 11.67 lakh and another Rs 15 lakh from the sale of the produce. Another key campaign was to provide Subjee coolers (for vegetables) for farmers across Maharashtra to help them keep their produce fresh for a long period of time – a problem that compounded during the lockdown. The campaign helped raise Rs 21.5 lakh allowing 143 farmers to get the coolers.
With incomes impacted, small businesses affected, cash flow constraints and partial business closures, existing loans products were not able to fulfill the credit needs of SMEs. Faircent, a P2P lending platform created innovative, proprietary underwriting algorithms that helped it launch products tailor-made for the situation. “Our anti-lockdown loans had an inbuilt three-month moratorium, post which borrowers could choose to repay either through lump sum or easy EMIs. This product became popular with small and local businesses impacted by the slowdown,” said Vinay Mathews, Founder & COO, Faircent. The platform also launched special loans for borrowers in zones where there were few COVID cases. The loans were tagged as ‘low impact COVID zone’ and helped raise more than Rs 250 crore. Additionally, education loan products and special loans for women borrowers were also launched by Faircent.
Chuck Pettid, CEO, Republic – a US-based crowdfunding portal — agrees that two things are needed to fight any calamity – people and capital. “There needs to be more stories shared about the success of crowdfunded campaigns. What founders are doing with the capital raised from the crowd is remarkable — from simple things like hiring countless individuals to helping communities grow and prosper, it’s been nothing short of amazing,” he said.
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