“We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.” With these words Winston Churchill defined the power of giving. And this is even more important in India today where 250 million people live under the poverty line. An incredible number of 3.3 million NGOs are trying to solve this problem– one every 400 people– managing a market that raise anywhere between 400 and 800 million INR in funding annually. The government and foreign contributors are the biggest donors of a market that represents 0.6% of the GDP of the nation.
A new player in this market, Cachapa, is trying to make donations funnier and cooler. Founded by Sandeep Hiremath, a 28-year-old software engineer, Cachapa wants to be a bridge between people and causes.
After his degree, Sandeep joined Tesco where he worked for seven years. “I was tired of doing the same things and for the first time I decided to step out of my comfort zone. I didn’t have a clear idea so I decided to volunteer in a NGO. There I understood how the lack of funds, branding and trust is impacting their results and I decided to do something to solve those problems. That’s how Cachapa was born,” says Sundeep.
Cachapa’s mission is to raise awareness of different causes and generate funds to support people working for the cause. “We pick a cause and an NGO working for that. We run a campaign for two weeks focused on one particular cause on our online site cachapa.org designing unique t-shirts which brings out the message of the cause in a subtle way. We believe this way we can reach out to more people. For every t-shirt we sell, Rs.100 goes to the NGO working for the cause. So when someone wears a Cachapa t-shirt they help spread the message and raise awareness while the money from their purchase goes to raise funds,” says Sandeep.
One of the main problems of donation is trust. That’s why they developed a policy to choose the NGOs they work with. “When we pick an NGO we make sure that they have a record for good work. After a campaign we try to measure the impact and showcase it to the people who supported the cause. Knowledge about the impact makes people more willing to support a cause,” says Sandeep.
“A t-shirt is a statement, it shows that you stand for something and you are confident enough to wear it. Through Cachapa people become part of a bigger movement where they stand up for a cause, spread awareness and generate funds. Often people would like to help, but they do not have the time to volunteer or don’t trust NGOs. Through Cachapa we try to solve this issue. We refer to our customer as our ‘Cause Ambassador’,” adds Sandeep.
Being a startup in this sector is not an easy thing and along with the first successes come some challenges “The biggest challenge we are facing is around operations and marketing. From the supply chain side our requirements are too small to work with competitive prices. That’s why it is hard for us to find people willing to work with us. From the marketing side, when we talk to people directly they love the concept and are willing to support us, but we have some problems in converting these appreciations in online traction. That is where the impact can be substantially increased,” reveals Sandeep.
Next years will be crucial for Cachapa’s development, says Sandeep, as they focus on reaching out to as many people as they can to create a movement which moves people into action. “We would also like to cover NGOs who work for different issues, including child rights, women empowerment, human rights, environment and also some political causes like corruption,” announces Sandeep. Calling the youth of the country to come forward and support the cause they believe in, Sandeep says, “Explore. Don’t be stuck in one place. Your time is now. Don’t think too much, you just need to do it.”