By Prajita Shrestha
Basically, crowdfunding is the practice of collecting funds by persuading a large number of people to make donations, and it has been a part of human society since the early 1700s. But with the current increasing rate of internet usage, the huge wave of crowdfunding has swamped up the world. In today’s time, crowdfunding is not just about money but about developing a sense of community. However, Nepal had been missing out on this international phenomenon, only until today.
Grasruts is Nepal’s first crowdfunding platform, which has already started exploring the horizons of success as well. This platform supports independent ventures and campaigns that can fund people to overcome their financial hurdle and turn their visions, dreams and aspirations into a utopian reality. Open to anyone above 18 years, Grasruts helps develop and publicise campaigns using the internet. While each campaign is unique, it has to fight is own unique battle to attract funding, and Grasruts helps all of its campaigners from the very start of the battle, which is drafting the outline of the campaign.
Gasruts was not initiated in vacuum; instead, the team at Grasruts had had a 3-month-long dialogue with Nepal Rastra Bank, World Bank, and other experts before starting out. Compliance with the national and international regulations has authenticated the crowdfunding as legal, safe, and simple.
Grasruts has set-up some ground rules to be followed while creating campaigns which help to avoid any frauds and risks possible to arise after the activation of a campaign. These rules serve as a basis for reviewing, evaluating and, if necessary, withdrawing projects that disregard the transparency and accountability of the campaign and its purpose. With these guidelines, Grasruts has made itself capable of ensuring accountability, legitimacy, and transparency.
Grasruts has truly simplified and legitimised the entire process of crowdfunding, making it as easy as it possibly could be for Nepalese citizens. To carry out the transactions, it has set-up four different payment methods: Esewa, SCT npay, Thamel Remit and Cash pick up, and to simplify the process of campaigns, Grasruts has offered two different plans for the campaigners: ‘All or Nothing (AoN) plan’ and ‘Flexible (Flex) plan’.
In the ‘All or Nothing model’, Grasruts only charges the 5% + payment processing charge on the total amount raised if the campaigner reaches 100% or more of the goal. Otherwise, if the marked goal amount is not collected or the campaign, at any point, fails to keep up its legitimacy, the company refunds the money to the supporters and donors and does not charge a single penny to both the campaigner and the supporters. At the same time, the company takes legal action against the campaigner. In the Flex model, the Grasruts charges 5% + payment process charge of the total collected by the campaign, regardless of the target being or not being hit.
For now, Grasruts is unable to accept foreign support, mainly because carrying out international banking transactions and owning an international payment card, more or less, is unfeasible and not really pragmatic for Nepalese citizens. Nevertheless, if we were to look at the positive side of this, Grasruts is now focusing on its original motive: crowdfunding for people of Nepal by the people of Nepal.
“THERE IS STILL MILES FOR US TO GO SINCE NOT MANY NEPALESE PEOPLE ARE AWARE OF THE CONCEPT OF CROWDFUNDING.”– SUSHANT BAJRACHARYA, CO-FOUNDER OF GRASRUTS
This motive has been effective to impress the contributors in Nepal. One of Grasruts’ crowdfunding campaigns is titled ‘Manjushree Trail’, which is an odyssey to discover a hidden trail that connects the hills of Kathmandu Valley in a circuit. This campaign had been supported by 34 different people and has currently surpassed its initial price goal of Rs.30,000 by Rs 350, that too way before the scheduled deadline of the campaign. This campaign is a proof that projects with a transformational proposition are capable of receiving help from the people.
Not only Grasruts can provide the campaigners an opportunity to reach out to the mass and present their project ideas, but it is much more than just a pitchers’ hub: it establishes a direct connection between creators and funders which changes Nepal’s oligarchical business landscape into an egalitarian one. Promoting crowdfunding culture in Nepal would also mean that the total dependency on a closed ring of capitalists would decrease and thus, more people will vest in themselves and enjoy the power to fund the projects with innovation, creativity, and prospects of developing the nation.
How Grasruts work?
For Project Creator
● You need to sign-up.
● Create a campaign with required data.
● Start sharing your campaign.
After the campaigns starts raising money, Grasruts will start monitoring the campaign and contact the campaigner for additional information. If anything starts looking fishy, Grasruts will deactivate the campaigner’s account and refund the contributors. If the campaign successfully raises money, Grasruts will transfer the money to the campaigner’s bank account.
For Project Supporters
● You need to sign-up
● You will need to add some basic info before you can contribute (those info are required to maintain transparency and required as per NRB’s policies. However, those data will not be publicly available).
● If the project that you supported is not successful, you will get your money back depending upon the funding mode that the campaign that you have chosen.
● The reward that you are promised to you by the project owner is solely the responsibility of project creator.
“GRASRUTS IS A PLATFORM FOR ECONOMIC REFORMATION WHEREBY, PEOPLE COULD GET THEIR SKILL AND VIEW SOLD WITHOUT ANY HURDLE AND RISK OF FUTURE CAPITAL INADEQUACY.”– BHASKAR GYAWALI, CO-FOUNDER OF GRASRUTS