They began their journey three years ago in 2015 on International Volunteer’s Day in the city of Mumbai. Connectfor, an online non-profit platform connects volunteers across the country, and the enterprise has a new chapter in the city of Bengaluru, where they have already matched more than 450 volunteers in just over two months! ConnectFor helps NGOs understand and anticipate their volunteering requirements. These requirements are then turned into volunteering opportunities that are filled with opportunity curation forms. The non-profit organisation was started by these two young enthusiastic women, Shloka Mehta and Maniti Modi who are in their 20s, and hail from Mumbai. They both always had the impetus to do good and that impulse was never wasted or drained in the process of trying to make it actionable!
Shloka had always planned to stay involved with the social sector. Volunteering had been something she had actively done since high school, and through college, both while she was in Mumbai for holidays, and during the college term in Princeton, New Jersey. She says, “After moving back to India in 2014, I worked with the Rosy Blue Foundation, who mandated that all their projects should include an element of human engagement; there we began by supporting mentoring projects and encouraging employees to become mentors. That is when the seed for the idea of ConnectFor was been planted in my head.”
As for, Maniti who had just come back to the country after her masters in management from Imperial College London and taken up a job for some experience, Shloka approached her with the idea of ConnectFor. She says, “We did a lot of research and benchmarking exercises, realising how significant the gap was and how badly this kind of platform was needed. There are 3.3 million NGOs in India, but less than 10 per cent of these receive more than 60 per cent of corporate funding. After pondering over the idea for a few days, I realised the value and potential of a platform like this in India and that was where my journey with ConnectFor began!”
The seed that these two youngsters had planted has now connected 6,103 volunteers, dedicated 14,667 volunteer hours and saved about Rs 34,76,000. But, reaching here was certainly not easy, Maniti tells us, “Yes, I think people do think we have it easy and a lot of people feel that we are doing ‘charity.’ But this is not the case, we face the same challenges as most other start-ups in other industries as well. On an organisational level, I think the challenge we face is that we need people to understand the value of this platform in order to get funding, and only with funding will we be able to grow to the level we want to. It is always tricky with social enterprises I think because people mistake “doing good for society” with charity.”
Nonetheless, none of this stops them from making their organisation even bigger. Apart from being business partners Shloka and Maniti have known each other their whole lives, and always been in school together. “It’s been really empowering to work on this project, and to run our own team and organisation — the people we work with are so inspiring, we even have full-time volunteers working with us at ConnectFor,” says Shloka. Shloka is a very avid reader, and enjoys reading everything under the sun, and Maniti loves watching shows and documentaries and learning about new things — she’s basically addicted to Netflix!