“I’m interested in becoming a social entrepreneur,” says Pratyush Agarwal ’11. “I want to help people in a way that makes a permanent impact on their lives.” Agarwal’s passion for service, nurtured at Ohio Wesleyan University, has led him to found a new business called Giifa, which matches nonprofit organizations that need various kinds of help, but are unable to afford it, with qualified unemployed persons who can do the work required. The money for hiring the unemployed worker comes from small donations from multiple donors specifically for that purpose. “We don’t give people money; we give them jobs, which is a much better use of resources,” Agarwal says. The idea has interested Intel’s panel of judges, who selected Agarwal’s venture as one of its Top Twenty Ideas in its Intel Innovators competition. The Giifa process works like this:
- The nonprofit organization identifies a need and meets with a staffing organization selected by Giifa.
- The staffing organization finds a qualified match acceptable to the nonprofit organization and uploads his or her profile to the Giifa website for donor funding.
- Giifa donors visit the website and fund the employee/organization of their choice. If the funding is achieved, the employee is hired.
- The staffing service sends an update to Giifa and the individual donors, reflecting on the impact of the donation to both the nonprofit organization and the employee.
“This business was a result of looking at the unemployment situation and realizing that the government can’t do too much about it,” Agarwal says. “I wondered about how to ‘privatize’ this function, giving power to the people to create jobs. When I was at OWU, I became fascinated by KIVA [crowd-funded micro-financing for international entrepreneurial ventures], and ended up as president of OWU’s Student Initiative for International Development. During an internship, I studied how the KIVA model worked in Nepal. “The basis for the idea came from that experience; crowd-funding is becoming very popular now with organizations such as Kickstarter and others. It works because it’s transparent, costs donors very little, gives them complete freedom of choice about what they fund—and they receive feedback from those whose lives have been affected.”
Intel’s Interest and How You Can Help
The top five finalists for the Intel prize of $50,000 will be chosen by social media voting. To move into the next round—the Battleground—in which five ideas will compete for the top prize, Agarwal needs your votes today. If Giifa receives enough votes, Agarwal and the other four finalists will present their ideas in a live video conference, which can be viewed by anyone in the world. Within a few hours of the videoconference, the winner will be selected and announced. To help Agarwal qualify for the Battleground round is easy. Simply:
- Click on this link: http://bit.ly/giifa-invest
- Hit invest (no, this doesn’t mean you’re giving money; it’s just Intel’s word for “vote”)
- Allow the app
- Hit invest again and type 10,500 in the dialogue box
- Click invest one more time
Post this information on your Facebook page. Tell your friends and have them post it, too. Get out the vote! “Giifa,” Agarwal says, “is the Icelandic word for ‘give.’ I wanted a name that was short, easy to spell, and memorable. “If I could say one thing to students, it would be to follow their dreams. And this is mine.” So now it’s time for the entire OWU community to “giifa” this young entrepreneur a boost toward achieving his dream. Do it now. To learn more about Agarwal’s venture, see:
He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.