Crowdfunding is a new funding strategy that is helping Indian students fulfil their
study abroad dreams. If students can engage with benefactors in their chosen field
of expertise and entreat their friends and family to support their plans, the results
can be empowering, says Gauri Kohli.
ISSUE #19 | THE PIE REVIEW | 33
DEPRECIATION OF THE rupee, hikes in
tuition fees, and costlier education loans have
significantly affected study abroad dreams for
many Indian students over the years.
A recent report by Crif High Mark, one of the four credit
bureaus in India, suggests that many students are pursuing
courses outside India, which can cost Rs 7.5 lakh or more
While students in India have often relied on a family
network to help meet the financial burden of studying in an
overseas country, for those used to relying on loans too,
there is now a new alternative.
Aspiring students are now turning to crowdfunding, the
exercise of raising money for a project, cause, or venture
where a large number of people make small contributions
as they see fit.
Overseas and ambitious
Outbound mobility among Indian students will continue
to increase in the coming years. India is the second largest
sending country to several top study destinations inclu-ding
the US, Canada and Australia. As of 2017, there were
more than five lakh (500,000) Indian students enrolled in
education institutions abroad.
While the Indian education system is developing, the
number of Indian students are expected to continue to
travel overseas to study, lured by academic prestige and,
very often, the opportunity to work overseas for a short
period and gain international work experience too.
A large number of them rely on loans, scholarships or
external funding. This is where crowdfunding platforms
come into play. A World Bank report titled ‘Crowdfunding’s
Potential for the Developing World’ indicates that India had
10 crowdfund investment platforms by 2013.
Such funding platforms support a wide variety of causes
and most of them charge 6-to-10 per cent of the money a
Varun Sheth, founder of Ketto, a Mumbai-based crowd-funding
platform, says most people who cannot access
loans or scholarships go down the crowdfunding route.
“Those raising funds are youngsters between 20 and 35
years old,” he tells The PIE. “The process from creating a
campaign to raising funds is simple and easy. According to
trends on our platform, Indian students mostly raise funds
to pursue higher studies in the US and the UK.”
Students are posting heartwarming appeals globally to
internet users through platforms such as Ketto, Milaap and
Generosity to raise money to fund studies abroad, attend
workshops, seminars or study trips, to join academic and
non-academic short-term programs, and sometimes even
Crowdfunding is a much better idea than taking out an
education loan, say students and experts. The reasons are
you don’t have to pay the money back, so you don’t have a
deadline or a rate of interest.
Balaji Narayanasamy, co-founder and CEO of Edudharma,
another popular crowdfunding platform, says, “most po-pular
courses for which funds are raised include medical
programs and arts courses. But besides the importance of
pursuing the course, the success of a fundraising cam-paign
depends on a student’s achievements and family
In developed countries such as the US, crowdfunding
is already very popular and students use it for just about
anything - for higher education scholarships and funding
to buying a pair of sneakers. In fact, US universities such
as Arizona State University and Pepperdine already have
their own crowdfunding activities, says Dr Karan Gupta, a
Mumbai-based educationist and study abroad consultant.
In March 2015, 24-year-old Bhagya Sivaraman, a social
worker from south India’s Tamil Nadu state, decided to
pursue her higher studies abroad.
The young activist, who graduated in social work from
Mumbai’s Tata Institute of Social Sciences, wanted to
make a difference to the lives of adolescents from ad-verse
socio-economic backgrounds who were victims of
domestic violence, alcohol abuse and depression.