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Crowdfunding: Saving Million Lives

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Crowdfunding: Saving Million Lives
Rajat Mishra - 03 July 2019

On December 2018 a baby boy was found in a nallah in Ambernath, Maharashtra. After being picked up by Shivaji Ragade, 35, he was admitted in the nearby hospital in Ulhasnagar. But on being diagnosed with serious brain infection, the baby was moved to Wadia hospital, Mumbai. Shivaji spent all the money during his treatment in Ulhasnagar. As the treatment cost was huge in Mumbai, the hospital got in touch with crowdfunding organisation Ketto and successfully managed to get Rs10.39 lakh within 24 hours. Puja Bhatnagar from Delhi received a  sum of Rs25 lakh with the help of  394 donors within 39 days for her liver transplant.

These are not only stories to quote, but in reality many times these crowdfunding organisations have successfully collected funds within 24 hours and saved numerous precious lives.

Many sitting on the pavements outside India’s premier medical institution AIIMS, testifies that our public healthcare sector is in dire state. Thus the patients end up spending months and weeks in front of the government hospitals, waiting for their treatment.

This reveals the lack of infrastructure in the government hospitals and their inability to cater to everyone. Thus to meet medical exigencies, people have to get their near and dear ones treated in private hospitals, where the cost of treatment is sky-high. The only option that they are left with is, either they have to take loans or turn to relatives and friends for help. Thereby falling into a medical debt trap!

But to these grave problems, one thing that has come as a panacea is the concept of medical crowdfunding. It is simply a process to raise money from the people and the society, to help people. There are multiple players in this medical crowdfunding industry, those who are doing remarkable work in this direction. ImpactGuru, Milaap and Ketto being a few.

Ketto, India’s one of the largest crowdsourcing platforms, was founded in October 2012 and within seven years has raised more than Rs300 crore for various purposes for more than 1.5 lakh fundraisers. Whereas ImpactGuru has raised more than Rs400 crore for more than 10,000 people, and Milaap has raised more than Rs600 crore for the fundraisers. Varun Sheth, CEO, Ketto, said, “ We started as a basic online network for raising money for helping out start ups and NGOs. The initial period for us was very difficult, but with time, we succeeded in what we wanted to do—to help the people.” Sheth added, now Ketto emphasises more on medical crowdfunding and NGO crowd funding and has achieved a success rate of 65-70 per cent.

However, the business model for these crowd-funding organisations is quite transparent and scalable. They charge a small fee for collecting funds called success fee, that varies from one organisation to the another. “We are charging five per cent success fee for particular fundraisers and have scalable assets and transparent business model in place,” said Piyush Jain, Co-founder and CEO, ImpactGuru. The success fee for Ketto and Milaap is similar  to that of Impact Guru, which is  five per cent.

Amidst the massive ongoing digitisation, the process to set up an online fundraiser is just a few clicks away. Anuj Vishwanathan, Co-founder and President, Milaap explained, “It is a process of less than five minutes and does not require a lot of technical know-how. Keeping our audience in mind, we have introduced some new features so that anyone with a smartphone can start a fundraiser from anywhere in  the country.”

With the objective to reach out to the needy in the Tier II and III cities, fundraisers can be set up using Whatsapp and other instant messaging apps by recording their story in any of the eight available Indian languages. It is then automatically transcribed to create text. All of these features open up online fundraising to anyone with a smartphone.

Currently, the healthcare fundraiser on Impact Guru.com, has raised the highest funds of Rs50.93 lakh through 1741 donors and 915 shares via Whatsapp and social media. This fundraiser was put up by Lucknow resident, retired Colonel Ashok Kumar Singh, as he was in need of funds to finance his son’s treatment, who is suffering from Chronic Lymphocytic Leukaemia.

These crowdfunding portals, in order to make life of fundraisers hassle free, have collaborated with many hospitals across the country.

Throwing light on the various aspects of crowdfunding, Dr Minni Bodhanwala, CEO, Wadia Hospital in Mumbai said, “If a patient cannot afford care, the family approaches the social service department of the hospital, once we verify the need we plan the crowdfunding campaign with our crowdfunding platforms. Once the patient consents for his or her story, their crowdfunding campaign is made live.”

Highlighting the numbers, she said that on an average, 20-25 patients benefit from crowdfunding every month and numbers are increasing with more awareness amongst patients as well as donors.

Crowdfunding organisations such as Milaap and ImpactGuru are using Artificial Intelligence and Block chain facilities to promote the cause and verify fake fundraiser campaigns. ImpactGuru is the only crowdfunding platform having its own AI-supported story builder for medical fundraisers, with a template for all campaigners to develop their own standardised campaign stories. Whereas Milaap, which was founded in 2010 is using AI driven Chat box technology to help campaigners for fund raising appeals.

As awareness about the medical crowd-funding is picking up rapidly. But Varun Sheth, CEO, Ketto said, “There is need to change mindsets, still people are shy about putting up fundraisers for themselves and  rather prefer taking loans, selling their assets or turning to their friends and relatives for money. So, here they should know that how crowdfunding is helping them escaping medical debt.”

So the sensitisation for this is required at a large scale and instead of taking loans, people should go for crowdfunding and be a part of  this change.

rajat@outlookindia.com

 

 

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