While there are many among us who donate money or in-kind to NGOs if we are convinced that our contribution is in good hands, some shy away because they doubt whether their donations will be put to right use.
This Sunday we bring you the story of two engineers who, motivated by the social causes and needs in our society, set up a platform that help link the donors with the NGOs in a systematic and transparent way.
DONATE PRODUCTS IN NEED TO CHARITIES INSTEAD OF MONEY
E-Cell: What is Donatekart all about?
Anil: If you have ever donated or contributed anything to an NGO, you must have wondered if your contribution is being put to good use or not. To drive off such doubts from the donators’ minds, we said no to well-paying jobs and began our own startup venture, which we named as Donatekart.
Donatekart is a unique crowd sourcing e-commerce platform which help NGOs raise in-kind donations. We bring transparency in the Indian philanthropic space by allowing donors, donate products in-need to charities online and keep track of their whereabouts. We do this by using e-commerce & crowd-funding effectively.
E-Cell: Why did you choose to go for a social enterprise?
Anil: Me and my partner always had an interest in social work and enterprise. We were also a part of our college social club Prayas and organized a number of events and social entrepreneurship conferences in which eminent social workers and NGOs were invited to deliver speeches for the students. Their words and wisdom always had an inspiration attached to it.
Our motivation to pursue this social space mainly arose after we saw the devastating Chennai floods in December 2015. According to me, the major problem was that no one knew what the affected wanted. The flood affected areas required bed-sheets, mosquito nets, tarpaulins but people didn’t provide these materials per se. Instead, they contributed more food and water. This is the problem we set out to solve and there is no better way to start a social enterprise which cannot just help us sustain but also create a measurable impact.
E-Cell: How does Donatekart operate? What is its business model?
Anil: Every NGO who wishes to use our platform go through a rigorous due diligence process. They are given a catalogue of products from which they can choose which products to launch a campaign for. Once the campaign goes live, NGO shares the campaign on their social network. Donors who wish to donate products to the campaign page add whatever they wish to give to the kart and pay online (just like they shop on flipkart or amazon). Donatekart then delivers these products to the NGO and send an update to the donors on how the donated products are being utilised.
Assume that an orphanage needs groceries, stationery, bags, etc. for the children. Donatekart brings different vendors on a single e-commerce platform who cater to NGOs and fix the price for each product through a Reverse Bidding process. Upon viewing the campaign, people pay for the required products online, through Donatekart. The cost of products can vary from a mere Rs. 2 to over Rs. 1 lakh.
We take a very small commission from the vendors through which we are able to generate part of our operational expenses.
E-Cell: What according to you are the major problems an NGO faces and how does Donatekart as a social enterprise rectify them?
Anil: India has 2.1 million NGOs and it is known that due to malpractices of some of the NGOs and a faulty business model, the donations does not reach their destined owners. This problem has reached the ears of the donors who now expect more transparency on how their donations are being utilised. We, as an upcoming and a unique social enterprise try to bring transparency and clarity in charity by allowing donors directly donate products needed by NGOs and then keep a track of how their donations are being used.
E-Cell: Where do you see Donatekart in the years ahead?
Anil: We are a self- sustainable startup supported by Zone Startups India, an accelerator programme by Bombay Stock Exchange. So far, we have run around 180 campaigns and raised more than Rs. 1 crore worth of products. Our aim is to see an India where everyone contributes at least 2 per cent of their annual income to some noble cause. We want to be the next generation donation platform where anyone who wishes to give can give without any worry on how their contributions are being utilised.
E-Cell: What are your suggestions for other people planning to take up a similar venture?
Anil: This was before Donatekart, when during my college years I started a digital media startup, Newspot which failed miserably due to many reasons. What I suggest everyone who wishes to be an entrepreneur is what I learnt from my failure. There has to be a clear vision and problem recognition that needs to be addressed. An enterprise will succeed only if it has both as they are the ones which drives a team in their ups and downs. It’s really important to have a clear understanding of the sector and a passion towards working in it before starting your venture, especially when you are a student entrepreneur.