Imagine small villages in North Bihar, fertile land irrigated by tributaries of the mighty Ganga, the lush green paddy fields sometimes glistening in the sun, sometimes devastated by floods, mango orchards on the way to school, some of it plucked by sharpshooting stones thrown by us – that’s how I grew up till my 10th class.
Then I got into Science College, Patna and finally into IIT Bombay in 1990. Through my interactions in my own larger family and rural families in my village, I have first-hand experience of the challenges faced by underprivileged sections of the society and how small amounts of money could change lives and livelihoods forever. After IIT though, my software career took me into the high offices of MNC software companies in India and a brief stint in the US. I almost forgot about the social impact sector except for the irregular donations to various causes - CRY, Goonj, Donatekart/Ketto (covid/disaster relief), Sense India, End AIDS India, World Vision India, HelpAge India etc, whichever I had ready access to.
Fast forward to 2022, I was actively thinking about doing some work in the social sector, I talked to an NGO founder based in Chennai. She has a small team of 5-6 people and she runs an evening school for children in a slum in Chennai. What she told me was shocking, her NGO runs on a meagre budget of ₹6 lakhs per year, all the donations being from friends and family. She also told me that if this evening school didn’t exist, most of the children were likely to get into crime, drug trafficking etc. She badly needed more funding to be able to expand her school into all the slum areas. Imagine if we got her another ₹6 lakhs or ₹12 lakhs how much more social impact she could achieve by saving all those children from falling into crime etc. I came across another NGO founder who rescues girls from human trafficking mostly from northeast states and she has no external funding at all. Another day, when I was talking to Ram, the co-founder of Rangde, he told me how a small grant of ₹10 lakhs to an NGO partner could help them distribute ₹1-2 crores of credits to rural entrepreneurs, farmers etc at very affordable rates through his platform.
All this and many such stories persuaded me to try and build a platform where everyone can have access to giving grants to the most impactful NGOs, doing actual good work at the grassroots level - thus Ekaimpact was born. We are a section 8 company working towards helping such grassroots NGOs with capital, capacity, and community. We want to be a force multiplier to social impact by making it simpler for NGOs to get funding as well as for donors/investors to find credible NGOs.
Back in 2013, I founded LetsVenture.com along with Shanti Mohan. Over the last decade, we have helped close to 1000 early-stage startups get close to ₹1000 crore funding. We have close to 20,000 angel investors on LetsVenture platform now. At Ekaimpact, I want to use my learnings from LetsVenture and help the social impact community in a similar manner but as a non-profit venture. The goal at Ekaimpact is to truly be a platform for social good and we are taking the non-profit route towards this end.
While there are new challenges like changing compliance regulations for NGOs, FCRA licences getting revoked etc, there are new innovations happening in the social sector in India as well, like the Social Stock Exchange (by BSE/NSE), CSR Exchange (by MCA) and many private company endeavours as well. There is still a genuine need for a public good platform to bring all the social impact (NGO/SPO) organisations together and most importantly, have them verified and curated to a large extent. Only then the donors/investors, be it corporate, foreign foundations, or HNIs, will feel confident to provide the grants.
Not to mention we will also provide quarterly impact reports from the NGOs to all the donors/investors.
A lot needs to be done, but this is my first step towards achieving a dream of a more connected and accessible impact sector where those who are bringing about real change and impact, have ready access to the resources they need! Join me in this journey by registering on www.ekaimpact.org
PS: I continue to be part of LetsVenture/Trica Equity as a Co-Founder.