Through Project Hope, Shubhashish was able to ask his acquaintances to fund his study abroad.
“If you aren’t hopeful about how things would turn out to be, you should opt out of journalism.” Shubhashish makes sure he gives this lesson to every student he teaches. A business journalist by profession and a teacher by choice, Shubhashish is keen on pursuing a masters degree in International Relations in the U.K. After his graduation in 2007, he had applied for the same course in the UK, but had to give up his dream due to lack of funding. Six years hence, he is at the same juncture but with hope and unending benevolence from strangers.
It may not be a surprise if one sees ProjectHope trending on Twitter sometime soon. That’s his crowd-funding model. He posted a piece on his blog titled ‘Hope’, in January, asking people to donate Rs. 800 to enable him to pursue his dream. No, the project isn’t charity or a donation. It is an educational investment which he fully intends to return with an eight per cent simple interest inseven years. On being asked as to why he had decided on this amount, he said, “I have slightly over 2,500 followers on Twitter and 600 friends on Facebook. If half of them funded me to the tune of Rs. 800 or $15, I could reach the set target.”
“The idea of crowdfunding came about after reading Sleeping in Homes of Strangers: A month-long Journey of Trust by Mark Dickinson. In this book, the protagonist who is a teacher, sets up a blog and seeks help for going on a month-long holiday in Turkey, which shows, he says that trust and benevolence aren’t extinct. That’s when I thought I had the option to live my dream and not compromise,” he says.
A month-and-a-half and he has managed to collect half the amount. “It’s surprising that I have already collected this much money. I am already half way through.” Through this model of crowdfunding, Shubhashish aims to collect Rs. 8 lakh. “This was not the first option. I had previously applied for a bank loan but since I am not eligible to procure a loan due to lack of collateral, Project Hope is my only option.” he adds.
Crowdfunding is not the only source of his educational funding. Having worked for five years as a journalist, he has saved money. Additionally, he has also applied for several scholarships with a stronger application this time, inclusive of work experience. “The result will be out only in June and if in any case I am unable to procure it, crowdfunding would not have worked out in a shorter time span.”
Very often, it is not easy to open up to the world and seek help. He faced a similar dilemma. It took him some time to contemplate and discuss his finances in public, with both friends and strangers. At last, he did it. “It was difficult to open up to the world. You give people an opportunity to judge you, but then I looked at the bigger picture and it helped.”
Shubhashish did receive flak when some called his initiative a scam, while some others said he was emotionally blackmailing people to lure them into investing money, but he has maintained utmost transparency. “I have created an excel sheet on my blog, so that whoever invests money gets to see his/her account number and the amount invested. It is all out there in public.” he clarifies.
Through blogging, Facebook and Twitter, Shubhashish could get people to hear what he had to say. While some did quip, most supported and encouraged his initiative. “It is no longer only about the amount, but with all the e-mails I have received it has been a great source of support from many who don’t even know me personally.”
Many who have invested money to support Shubhashish’s endeavour, do not wish for the money to be returned. “Since it’s not my money, I will put it to use for a greater benefit,” he says. He aims to create a trust to support students who want to procure higher education but cannot do so because of financial constraints. So, the idea is to make Project Hope bigger and better.