The global crowdfunding industry generated about $34.4 billion in capital last year. No reliable numbers are available for India though it is estimated it accounts for a small fraction of this. Yet local crowdfunding sites are proliferating and drawing attention from backers, and India is now the world’s second-largest internet market with more than 342 million mobile users and online payment options that make it easy to give money, says Bloomberg.
Crowdfunding is limited to giving donations and loans. The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) claims the Indian public lacks adequate investment knowledge or experience and requires strict protection. It has recently sidelined an incomplete aim to create a regulatory framework for investment crowdfunding, and equity crowdfunding in India remains on hold.
The biggest player in the market, Milaap, has raised the equivalent of over US$12.7m through donations and microloans, though spread across close to 50,000 projects it has averaged around just $260 per project. The beneficiaries of these low cost loans and relatively small donations have largely been people in rural India and in underprivileged sections of society. Other platforms better serve the creative arts and larger community benefits, though beyond micro-businesses crowdfunding isn’t yet a major opportunity for entrepreneurs.
India’s top peer-to-peer lending platforms
Co-founders: Smita Ram and Ram N. K
Founded in Bengaluru in 2008, RangDe.org is an internet-based peer-to-peer micro-lending platform that facilitates micro or low-cost loans to rural entrepreneurs across India with the help of funders. A remarkable aspect is that over 93% of borrowers have been women.
This not-for-profit crowdfunding portal has attracted 9,699 social investors and helped disburse 50,008 loans for a section of Indian population who are usually overlooked by banks and financial institutions. So far they have raised social investments of approximately USD 7 million while repaying very close to USD 5 million. Borrowers pay interest rates ranging between 4.5% and 10% p.a. for collateral free loans. Rang De gets a nominal cut of 2% on all the loans repaid by borrowers.
Rang De has been funded by the World Bank through Development Marketplace (DM) and is a recipient of several social change-related awards including South Asian International Fund Raising Group’s Fund raising Campaign of the year Award and 2013 Millennium Alliance Award.
The organization has a network of 25 field partners in 16 states of India who physically take the money to the borrowers and can contact them if they fall in to arrears.
Co-founders: Rajat Gandhi, Vinay Matthews, Nitin Gupta
Located at Gurgaon, Faircent is a peer-to-peer lending platform and a virtual marketplace where borrowers and lenders can interact directly, without the involvement of banks. In practice the platform allows lenders and borrowers to negotiate directly the terms of loans including interest rates and the duration of the loan.
Faircent is thus able to eliminate high margins on loans and keep institutional charges low. It charges a one-time listing fee of around USD 23 plus an administration fee depending on the size of the loan and interest amount, but doesn’t earn from interest that is paid.
Faircent has more than 6,000 potential lenders and 26,000 want-to-be borrowers on its platform and has disbursed total loans worth almost USD 973,000 in the last 24 months.
Top donations crowdfunding platforms
Co-founders: Kunal Kapoor, Varun Sheth and Zaheer Adenwala
Founded in 2012, Mumbai-based Ketto supports fundraisers in three main categories:
- Community/social projects (NGOs/Non-Profits/Charities),
- Creative arts (Movies/Music/Theatre/Fashion/Technology)
- Personal development (Health/Education/Travel).
They also encourage corporates to search for projects to support as a way of demonstrating Corporate Social Responsibility, and allow NGOs to use Ketto as an e-commerce sales channel.
Ketto offers fundraisers a unique cash pick-up facility and charges 5-8% of the funds raised or USD 30 (whichever is higher in case of individuals and corporates) along with payment gateway charges.
Project creators keep all the money that is raised even if they fall below the target they set for their project.
The platform has so far raised USD 5,990,400 through more than 100,000 backers to support over 10,000 projects (averaging just under USD 600 per project).
Co-founders: Priyanka Agarwal, Anshulika Dubey
Wishberry is a donations-for-rewards crowdfunding platform founded in 2010 in Mumbai and is exclusively dedicated to funding creative projects – music, stand-up comedy, film production, art, dance, design, photography, publishing, theatre.
A Wishberry adviser, a ‘Campaign Coach’, is appointed to each project to help the project creators write an effective pitch, make a good video (a video is compulsory) and handle the logistics of choosing, sourcing and distributing the rewards. This helps them achieve a very high 70% success rate.
It has so far completed 325 projects raising almost USD 1.3 million from more than 11,000 backers in around 60 countries. This is an average of nearly USD 4,000 per project. The contributors are rewarded with non-monetary incentives such as invites to film premiers, limited edition merchandise, experience in the making of the project, a named credit and so on.
It charges a one-time non-refundable fee of USD 52.37 plus 10% commission of the funds raised – charged only if the funding goal is reached. For a monthly fee they also provide digital marketing and PR services.
Wishberry works on an ‘All Or Nothing’ policy (which they also claim pushes up the success rate) and allows fundraisers a maximum of 60 days to reach their target.
Founder: Ranganath Thota
Bengaluru-based FuelADream launched in April 2016 with 14 projects. It is a rewards-based crowdfunding platform and focuses on creative arts projects, social causes and charities.
It gives its fund raisers the choice of either AON (All or Nothing) or KWYG (Keep What You Get) campaigns. When an AON campaign doesn’t reach its goal, all the money collected is returned to funders.
The company has its own content and marketing team that will help put together the online pitch and help design a rewards system for each project. They charge 9% (2% gateway +7% contract charges) of the total amount collected during the campaign whether an AON or a KWYG model. On the 9% there is a govt levy of 14.5% Service tax. This works out to a total charge of 10.3 % of the money raised.
FuelADream seems to be going for quality rather than quantity and will restrict itself to hosting a maximum of 20 new projects per month. Notable campaigns so far include a battery powered e-bike and a canal to irrigate a village’s arid farmland .
They also intend to make campaigns available in multiple languages.
Founder: Satish Kataria
From startups to Parallel Cinema and from DJS Racing Car to India’s leading political party AAP, Catapooolt has helped fund raisers bring to life creative, sports, and political projects, social enterprises and business startups.
Founded in July 2013, the crowdfunding platform has helped fund over 40 projects to raise almost USD 150,000 from over 2,000 contributors. 53 active projects are currently listed 9at 17 August 2016).
Catapoolt offers three unique tier rewards to its contributors, and claims to be the only crowdfunding platform that gives fundraisers access to distribution in 300,000 retail outlets with exposure to their walk-in customers across India. It charges around USD 23 as a project submission fee along with 10-15% of the total funding raised.
Founder and CEO: Ishita Anand
Founded in 2013 with headquarters in New Delhi, BitGiving is a crowdfunding platform that enables artists, engineers, and creators of all kinds to come together in a bid to share their stories and raise funds online for entrepreneurial, creative and social projects. Almost 15 per cent of campaigns are focused on raising funds for medical treatment.
BitGiving has so far completed over 650 projects and notable success stories include projects to help Nepal after their earthquakes, sending an Indian athlete to the Olympic games, a project to help farm widows in Marathwada, and funding two months hospital treatment for a teenager with a rare disease.
BitGiving charges 6-10% commission on the amount funded, depending on whether the seekers are non-profits, individuals, organizations or corporates.
BitGiving rewards its contributors through non-monetary incentives such as social media call-outs, personalized cards, pre-orders or discounts on products, VIP passes or tickets to workshops etc.
Co-founders: Chet Jain, Chaitanya Atreya, Rich Mastuura
Founded in October 2014 in Palo Alto, California by two Indians and an American, Crowdera is a completely free global crowdfunding platform that launched for Indian fund raisers recently in April 2016.
Until this period, the crowdfunding platform had raised over USD 537,000 helping several prestigious nonprofits, individuals, and organizations.
The platform is currently funded by some friends and their third co-founder Rich Mastuura. The team intends to start monetizing in 2017 from the CSR activities of enterprises and foundations across the world.
Crowdera doesn’t charge any commission at all and has a motto: Doing good must not be penalized.
Top hybrid donations and loans platforms
Co-founders: Mayukh Choudhury and Anoj Vishwanathan
Based in Bengaluru and founded in 2011, Milaap began as a crowdfunding platform for micro-loans for people in rural India, helping low-income borrowers with projects such as education, energy and water and sanitation.
Milaap added donations on its portfolio in 2014 and now allows donations and micro-lending for emergencies, neighbourhood projects, medical conditions, natural calamities and micro business projects.
Milaap has donors and lenders from over 120 countries for close to 50,000 projects, and has raised over USD $12.7 million.
It charges 5-8% of the funds raised from campaign owners.
Co-founders: Khushboo Jain and Piyush Jain
Beginning as a crowdfunding platform for non-profit organisations in 2014, Impact Guru is a Harvard iLab incubated fintech platform based in Mumbai.
It helps individuals, non-profits, social enterprises, startups, corporates for their fundraising needs. It engages in donations, rewards crowdfunding and investment fundraising.
In April this year, it had raised a seed round of USD 500,000 from Singapore-based venture capital fund RB Investments and private investment platform Fundnel. In the last year, the total funds raised by Fundnel and Impact Guru add up to $8.5 million.
More than 100 causes and organizations from six countries have been benefited by ImpactGuru’s campaigns. While it is free to launch a campaign on Impact Guru, the platform charges a 5% fee along with transaction costs if a fund raiser chooses a ‘Default’ package on the portal.
Given that the pace of change only ever moves faster, we shall have to see how India either adapts to encourage and enable innovation or remains cautious and holds the lid down on entrepreneurial opportunities.