Young social entrepreneurs making a difference

Four youngsters launch crowdfunding platform to help the underprivileged

When the lockdown was announced in March, people rushed home from wherever they were and religiously followed the “Stay Home, Stay Safe” directive to avoid the risk of contracting the COVID-19 virus.

“A conversation on the need for safety for all, with a cousin Vamsi Krishna, set us thinking about the plight of the marginalised families who do not have homes. Where would they go, we wondered,” recalls Lakshmi Janaki, a chartered accountant and co-founder of Givetoday, a crowdfunding platform that caters to the needs of the underprivileged sections through different online campaigns launched in collaboration with NGOs.

After five months of discussions and research on the best ways to reach out to the needy, with two other like-minded friends, Sai Vivek and Praveen, they decided to start a crowd-funding platform and Givetoday was born. Joined soon by three volunteers, the four youngsters started their first campaign on distribution of grocery kits to the marginalised families, in August.

Pooling in their own money, crowd-sourcing through internet, they collaborated with Dalit Bahujan Research Centre (DBRC) to identify the beneficiaries and distributed the kits comprising rice, pulses, wheat flour, oil and masala powders to around 70 families who eke out a living as rag-pickers at Poranki and a dump yard at Kandriga, a couple of days back.

“The help of grocery kits is very timely as many low income group families are starving after losing their livelihood due to COVID-19,” said A. Dev Kumar, Director, DBRC.

When asked why crowd funding, Ms. Janaki explains: “Raising small amounts of money from a large number of people and funding a project is easy. There are many people willing to do their bit, but how do you identify them? Internet is the right space where the whole world is today, especially in the wake of the pandemic,” she says, informing that they were happy to see people from overseas nations offering help.

Prior to that, Givetoday also donated tabs to five bright students from low income families who were unable to attend online classes.

Their next campaign is distribution of sanitary pads and inner wear to 75 orphan girls, through an NGO Providence Charitable Trust. “Personal hygiene is important,” she emphasised.

Within four weeks of its launch, the Givetoday team has raised over 600 products from over 100 donors that benefited over 300 families.

An e-shopping portal for sale of organic products is on the cards. “five per cent of the cost will go for charity," says the young CA, who donates a monthly sum to an orphanage. “The idea is to promote charity as a habit. It doesn’t take much to bring a smile on the face of the have-nots,” she says.

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