Like many countries, India is facing a blood donor shortage. If just 2% more eligible donors stepped up to donate, the problem could be alleviated. But as it stands, only 1% of potential donors in the country give blood.
Munish Jauhar, founder of IT services company Gray Cell Technologies, used to help run blood donation drives for his organization. He was approached by so many people requesting blood that he decided to do something more. “I thought I’d build an app to connect donors and receivers. I started it, and abandoned it because of time constraints,” he says.
Then an opportunity arose for Jauhar, the founding curator of The World Economic Forum’s (WEF) Global Shapers hub in his hometown of Chandigarh, India. In partnership with the Coca-Cola Company, the Shapers program–a global network of young leaders–launched a $50,000 competition for members to come up with “the next big idea” that took on the world’s most serious issues.
Jauhar and his Shapers hub in Chandigarh ultimately took first prize for BloodDonor.me, a now-functional app that matches blood donors to receivers; and InKind, an app that connects users with non-profits that have specific requests (i.e. clothing, volunteers, books).
BloodDonor.me is already live in India, with over 1,000 downloads from early testers. When someone registers as a blood receiver, the app searches its database based on their GPS coordinates and blood type for nearby donors. The receiver can then contact donors–who are alerted when someone close by is looking for their blood type–directly, setting up the transfer via a blood bank or hospital.
The app is somewhat limiting since many people don’t know their blood type. But, Jauhar points out, most people who have donated blood previously know their status.
The Chandigarh hub’s second app, InKind, is still in the early stages of development. “InKind allows NGOs to put their needs on the app, and any potential donor can browse the app, look at NGOs, and choose to fulfill the specific needs of those NGOs. If there’s an animal shelter needs 10 wooden dog houses, I can either buy the houses for them, or have them pick [the houses] up from me,” says Jaideep Bansal, a Chandigarh Shaper who works at Procter and Gamble for his day job. The grant from Coca-Cola will, he says, kick start the app from concept to reality.
BloodDonor.me and InKind are the first two examples of what Jauhar and his fellow Shapers hope will be a whole constellation of apps, where each is interlinked but does a specific thing (in this case, both apps facilitate giving). “With this kind of money, we feel we can make a strong and positive impact,” says Jauhar.