Here is yet another astonishing story of women social entrepreneurs in the lockdown. Trishla Pareek and Divya Singhal are two Chartered Accountants who registered a nonprofit and crowdfunding platform ShareALittle, to help connect NGOs to potential donors during the 2020-2021 lockdown.
On January 18, 2018, Trishla Pareek and Divya Singhal became Chartered Accountants and soon landed their first jobs in Mumbai. Trishla pursued Financial Due Diligence at the Big 4 and Divya, Equity Research at a broking house. Since their offices were only 10 minutes apart, they rented an apartment to live together. With continued interactions, it became evident that both girls wanted something more than just jobs. And very soon, the opportunity presented itself in the form of a pandemic.
They were both ready to help people in need. But one proverb kept haunting them, Give a man a fish, and he will eat for a day. Teach a man how to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime. The very phrase initiated the idea to set up their platform – ShareALittle. The platform focuses on causes where the funds raised empower, in some way, the recipients to build an independent life.
In India, 50% of Indians still live precariously close to the poverty line. It implies that approximately 650 million Indians, earn an income equivalent to almost INR 1,400 (USD 20) a month and need direction to improve the situation. Trishla and Divya thought the only way to do it was to get the empowered people to empower others.
“We saw that people were willing to help others in need but did not always do so because of the lack of transparency and general distrust in whether the contribution would reach the right person,” says Trishla.
And so, an idle idea shared by Trishla and Divya, who became friends at the age of 10 at Welham Girls’ School, a boarding school in Dehradun, turned into a forceful platform.
The Platform, The Pandemic
During the pandemic, the Chartered Accountants Trishla Pareek and Divya Singhal, were concerned about how poor children would cope with online classes. In September 2020, this led to the beginning of their crowdfunding start-up, ShareALittle. The first step was to build a pretty standard crowdfunding model to act as an intermediary between NGOs and donors, and the next step was to have a website in place with a very secure payment gateway for INR 250,000+. So, the CAs registered the company, opened a company bank account, applied for the 12A status and 80G, and set up a nonprofit.
ShareALittle soon began to run campaigns to enable underprivileged children to continue their education from home.
– Project DigiKit campaign raised Rs 300,000 from 62 donors in just 60+ days to help 35 students get digital devices.
– Project DigiKit also raised another Rs 145,000 from 44 empowered backers to buy 15 digital tablets for hearing-impaired students in Mumbai.
– Its campaign for Vahani Scholarship Trust helped raise Rs 130,000 from 18 generous donors to buy 20 smartphones for students from underprivileged backgrounds.
In 2020, Trishla and Divya quit their full-time jobs to turn into social entrepreneurs to bridge the funding gap for NGOs. Currently, the platform is providing the right tools to facilitate quality education to help a person out of acute poverty.
“We collaborated with NGOs even before we had registered our company. So, the added pressure to help the children as soon as possible drove us to be the most efficient version of ourselves. We streamlined business processes, set up the website, and officially launched in November 2020,” says Trishla. She further explains, “A donor’s relationship with the campaign does not end when (s)he contributes towards a cause. We provide them a direct message from the beneficiary talking about how the donated funds have benefitted them to complete the funding cycle.”
Finally, the company was incorporated – October 1, 2020.
Currently, Trishla Pareek and Divya Singhal at ShareALittle are running two campaigns on social media
- Million Meals Project. While the goal is to raise INR 705,000, it has raised INR 108,568 (as of June 17, 2021).
- The vocational training program campaign, called Catalysts for Social Action (CSA),has raised INR 32,500 (as of June 17, 2021) while working towards INR 334,000.
In the past, their team of donors (existing and potential donors), campaign owners, vendors, and the internal team, helped Vahani Scholarship Trust to raise INR 149,100 and EAR Society to raise 144,800 (96.53% of its INR 1,50,000 goal).
How it Works
The biggest challenge faced by the founders was to break the stereotype – charities misappropriate funds or that funds do not reach relevant people. It made them devise a transparent social accounting system that would report back to the donor base about how and where the NGO utilized the funds.
To make a donation
- Sign in on the ShareALittle website
- Select the campaign that you would like to contribute towards
- Make the payment
- Receive updates from the beneficiary post the campaign
From CA to Social Entrepreneur – The Challenges
Hardly any business is a cakewalk. Every business needs time and effort to set up and several hurdles. In this case, Trishla and Divya’s first challenge was reaching the beneficiaries.
The other challenges they faced were: –
- Getting out of their employee mindset to that of a business owner’s for dynamic decision-making to face operational challenges.
- Pandemic-induced donation fatigue
- Inability to travel and have face-to-face meetings for fundraising events
- Automating processes for NGO tie-ups, fundraising plans, building a donor base.
The Way Forward
Currently, ShareALittle fundraisers are limited to 1-2 at a time that focus on access to quality education. In the future, the duo plans to include causes that support womens empowerment and overcoming malnutrition.
The girls have embarked on a long road ahead. We wish Divya’s dreams come true and Trishla triumphs!