Economy, Sci & Tech

Iranian Charity Startup Shines at FINEX 2016

Iranian Charity Startup Shines at FINEX 2016
Iranian Charity Startup Shines at FINEX 2016

Startup companies are traditionally for-profit enterprises, but in recent years philanthropic ventures have begun adopting the knowhow and the approach of startups to develop a new breed of nonprofits.

One of these companies is Mehrabane, a local charity startup that aims to redefine how people fund worthy causes.

The startup recently attended FINEX 2016, the International Exhibition on Stock Exchange, Banking and Insurance of Tehran.

According to the company's founders, it aims to connect interested citizens with charitable institutions.

Emad Saedi, one of the members of Mehrabane, said, "Let me give you an example of crowdfunding. Imagine a charity planning to set up a library in a deprived area. We define a project on our website and determine the budget. Donors would then be able to contribute to the project with only a few clicks. This is how crowdfunding works."

He claimed that Mehrabane, which has been active for three years, is one of the first companies to use this method of funding.

Saedi further said some of the obstacles faced by them concerned the legal boundaries of crowdfunding, which have not been determined by law.

"We faced a great deal of problems related to taxation and legal authorization," he said.

Through crowdfounding, Mehrabane provides the financial means to implement well-planned projects with definite timelines—a first in Iran.

The company also claims to work with officially licensed charities. Before starting operations, it specifies the funding required and the procedures to be followed by the charities.

The startup's website states that one of the key policies of Mehrabane is "all or nothing", which means if a project does not raise the essential capital in the designated time, it will be canceled and the money collected will be refunded. This is similar to a kickstarter campaign.

One of the advantages of this policy is that charities will execute their project with a minimum budget. This policy also motivates donors to diligently promote projects they care about.

Two types of projects are defined in Mehrabane: raising money for doing well-defined tasks by, for example, financially supporting a specific less-well-off person with crowdsourced medical funding, and supporting independently created products through a presale.

Also active on several social media platforms, the startup aims to broaden its appeal by recently releasing an app available on local Android stores.

One such charitable website is 2nate (pronounced "donate" in Persian), which was one of the active predecessors backed by Avatech Accelerator.

2nate is an entirely indigenous platform that allows people to fund worthy causes.