Milaap, a leading crowdfunding platforms, is planning to engage with more corporates and institutions to increase their share of participation and build more awareness around the concept of crowdfunding, which has gained momentum since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic. 

“The DNA of the organisation has been crowdfunding focussed primarily on individuals. We have never focused on the institutional side and whatever came that was primarily inbound. If you look at the institutional share, it will be less than 5 per cent. This is something that we are looking to improve now,” Anoj Viswanathan, Co-Founder and President,, said. 

Founded in 2010 by Anoj Viswanathan and Mayukh Choudhury, both microfinance professionals, Milaap was started as a crowdfunding platform to fund rural projects and micro entrepreneurs. In late 2014, the platform diversified to enable people to raise funds for healthcare, education, sports, disaster relief and other personal causes etc. Milaap recently achieved the milestone of ₹2,000 crore in crowdfunding comprising over 85 lakh donations since its inception. 

Viswananthan said, around ₹1,400 crore or around 70 per cent of the total fund raised on the platform is for medical and critical healthcare followed by education, interest-free loans to small businesses and for campaigns of national importance or disaster relief. It also allows memorial funding, which is essentially a funding support to a family which has lost its breadwinner, fundraising for LGBTQ rights, animal maintenance etc.  

Journey so far

Viswananthan breaks Milaap’s 12-year journey into three phases. He said, the first phase between 2010 to 2016 was all about warming up people with the idea of crowdfunding and building trust, second phase (2016-19) was about the rapid growth of crowdfunding beyond metros, and the third phase (during the first Covid lockdown), where friends, family and colleagues came to mutual aid of those who lost the job or underwent critical healthcare issues. 

“During Covid, crowdfunding became like a quasi social safety net of sorts. Now, we are in the fourth phase, where we have understanding about the concept and we need to build on the trust to make it going,” Viswananthan said. “In the last two years, several companies used the platform to support their gig workers, contractual workers or employees who lost their jobs,” he added. 

With increasing awareness, the demand for more crowdfunding, especially in the healthcare space, has also increased rapidly. “But this is crowdfunding and we cannot guarantee the success of any campaign. So, we have recently launched a foundation arm primarily focused on raising catalytic grants. The idea is to underwrite people who couldn’t succeed in crowdfunding. Let’s say you want to raise ₹25-lakh, but were able to raise only one-third of the treatment cost, you could still get the treatment. For this endeavor, we are now looking at leveraging corporates and large institutional fundraising,” Viswananthan said. 

Besides catalytic grant programs, the foundation will also work towards building awareness around healthcare to bring down the overall cost. 

“If someone has blood cancer or Thalassemia, the cost of treatment ranges between ₹25-50 lakhs because of the stem cell transplant. Most of the stem cell donors are essentially from abroad. That needs to be transported and it constitutes around 40 per cent of the treatment cost,” Viswananthan said, adding, “If you build awareness around stem cell donation and if many people participate, it can bring down the cost meaningfully and the same applies to organ transplants as well.”