Darshan Gadkari is a newcomer to the Derry~Londonderry startup scene, and he’s in “stealth mode” with a blockchain venture to shake up the third sector.
He said, “My startup is a platform for global charity organisations. Natural disasters leave people without access to basic needs. People respond from all over the world, donating money to help, but how do you know your money makes it to the victims?”
Darshan is using blockchain technology to make charity donations more transparent and less apt to be defrauded.
While Darshan is still building his startup, he has secured support from a global company, Sofocle Technologies, based in India. “Sofocle delivers products in blockchain and we made an agreement that they’ll help me build my concept,” he explains.
Indeed, this problem is complex and far-reaching. A simple Google search on “Does charity money make it to the victims?” brought up media articles about the Grenfell Tower fire in London, Hurricane Harvey in the United States, as recent examples of when money hasn't reached victims. So far, of approximately £18.9m raised for Grenfell victims, less than £3m has been handed out. This problem is compounded in countries known to have fraudulent authorities – and Darshan points this out.
“What made me passionate was the Haiti earthquake. After all those billions were raised, it was found that not even 1% made it to victims. Haiti is still in pretty much the same shape as it was after the earthquake.”
The American Red Cross has suffered reputation damage after raising $488m in that disaster, while the use of those funds remains unknown.
Darshan’s urgency is definitely coming through – leading me to see that this is truly a passion project. As the saying goes, money talks. With the Red Cross admitting that it struggled to track the local usage of Haiti’s charity donations, it can be easy to see how the promise of transparency, trust and accountability – the linchpins of blockchain - could be the solution.
Darshan is just getting started. He says blockchain can be “a verifying system, so you can see that if you give £10, around £8 or £9 will make it to victims.”
How will you give visibility back to the contributors?
Darshan said, “Even the poorest people in third world countries have access to very cheap smartphones, and through this device, they can receive the money right away. My vision is that donated money would be transferred straight to victims. They can pay the organisations who help them get food, money or water. So the control is transferred to the victims.”
I wondered, will you be a charity yourself?
Darshan said, “Think of my system as a parallel to the current monetary system. So in the current system you can give $10 to Red Cross or $10 to Houston Harvey Victims or $10 directly to a victim (in cash, through PayPal or Western Union, etc).
With my system you give $10, and the victims will receive it right away. Also you can give Red Cross or Houston Harvey Victims $10, and ask them to put it on my system. Then Red Cross will send $10 through my system.
Is the development happening here in NI?
Darshan explained, “I’m the only developer right now, so yes it’s taking place here in Derry. I’m in stealth mode at the moment, and it will take 3 months to a year to develop.”
What can blockchain disrupt?
“Pretty much every industry there is. Especially as people hand over more and more of their lives to the tech gods,” said Darshan. “Anything with a supply chain.”
Why does it apply everywhere?
“You cannot tamper with data on the blockchain. Anything that you do cannot be changed. It provides transparency to the right audience without needing a third party.”
He went on, “Why do central banks and large companies get to make all the decisions that affect the entire world? Radical technologists want to decentralise the control. The system provides the verification and the trust. It becomes the authority.”