Here's an irony. Most non-governmental organisations (NGO) and not-for-profits that work at the grassroots level to bring the fruits of development to people untouched by them continue to lead an archaic existence fraught with issues and challenges.
Now, setting this anomaly right is GoBarefoot, a startup founded by Poulomee Ghosh and her friend Mithun Kalaga, which addresses the challenges facing NGOs, particularly those relating to raising donations, hiring quality manpower, and generating visibility for their programmes.
Poulomee, a veteran of 10 years in the development sector, whose insider status has allowed her to better understand the challenges facing the NGOs, and BITS Pilani alumnus Mithun launched GoBarefoot in June 2015 as a platform dedicated to the development sector where various stakeholders including NGOs, development professionals, donors, volunteers, and pro-bono consultants connect with each other.
Says 30-year-old Mithun, a BITS Pilani alumnus and a serial entrepreneur:
“We are aiming to build a portal that knits the global development community together and helps share knowledge, best practices, and latest innovations across sectors and geographies. We also help NGOs leverage technology for recruitment, raising donations, and reaching out to potential donors and volunteers.”
Beginning his career at Satyam Computers as a software developer during which he worked with State Farm Insurance, a Fortune 500 company, Mithun went on to establish Ordell Educational Services in 2009, which counselled students on career avenues and trained them to become job ready. In 2012, he co-founded GetMeFood, a Hyderabad-based food delivery startup, which was later acquired by Monocept and merged with their dine-in offering DinerKonnect.
Poulomee (41) is a post-graduate in Environment Management from IISWBM (Indian Institute of Social Welfare and Business Management).
Delhi-based GoBarefoot has been incubated by Third Sector Partners (TSP), a pioneer in executive search for social impact organisations. TSP, according to Mithun, is uniquely positioned to understand the challenges of the development sector. The startup has received a seed investment from TSP which is being used for technology, marketing, and manpower.
GoBarefoot uses a multi-pronged approach to personalise its services based on the unique needs of organisations. This customisation has come in handy in convincing the NGOs to join the GoBarefoot portal.
Presently, more than 3,500 NGOs, including AzimPremji Foundation, Magic Bus India, NASSCOM Foundation, Railway Children, Tech Mahindra Foundation, among others, actively post job openings and scout for potential candidates on the GoBarefeet portal. Says Poulomee,
“We are currently averaging around 10–20 new job posts daily. We are currently growing at 20 percent month on month, with paid job postings as the primary source of revenue.”
The startup has three distinct revenue streams: job posting packages, where NGOs purchase job packages at nominal rates to post their vacancies; convenience fee on donations, where a small percentage of the donation amount is charged as commission for helping organisations raise funds; and premium accounts for individuals with enhanced features.
Job posting packages start from Rs 1,500 per position to Rs 15,000 for 15 positions. Currently, GoBarefoot charges a commission of 4 percent of the donation amount from NGOs with whom it collaborates.
According to Mithun, word of mouth has been the primary driver for individuals and organisations joining GoBarefoot. Its marketing strategy also revolves around digital platforms (Facebook and Google) and regular mail notifications to the registered members.
GoBarefoot is planning to conduct workshops in educational institutions and corporate organisations to educate them about the benefits of GoBarefoot and how they can use this platform to connect with NGOs working on social causes.
As per Section 135 of the Companies Act, 2013, companies that have a net worth of Rs 500 crore or more or a turnover of Rs 1,000 crore and more are mandated to contribute 2 percent of their net profit to CSR activities.
GoBarefoot has a team of eight people who work on various verticals – NGO on-boarding, individual registrations, job postings, volunteering, and NGO donations.
In the coming financial year, GoBarefoot aims to increase the number of users to 10,000 and on-board 50,000 organisations. The expansion plans also include reaching out to international organisations to transform GoBarefoot into a global platform.
“We are currently in talks with investors to raise funds, which we would use to fuel our growth and establish GoBarefoot as the go-to platform for anything related to the development community,” says Mithun.