Gift-A-Deed Founder Navin Arjun Soni talks about the power of technology in alleviating poverty
By Jasmine Chan
Despite having an established career in commercial shipping, Navin Arjun Soni has devoted himself to creating a tech-driven humanitarian tool. Founded in 2017, Gift-A-Deed connects humanitarian needs with real-time aid on a global scale using geo-location technology.
Its app allows donors to identify and deliver resources such as food, water, and medication to anyone in need of assistance, whether it’s to help those living in poverty locally or respond promptly when a natural disaster takes place.
Gift-A-Deed also serves as a bridge between NGOs and vulnerable populations, encouraging the efficient distribution of excess resources. The United Nations endorsed the platform as an example of “Tech for Good” in the first year of its launch.
Jumpstart spoke to Soni to better understand the company’s founding mission and how he hopes to impact the future of humanitarian aid.
What inspired you to found Gift-A-Deed?
My inspiration came from seeing the pain and suffering of those living in extreme poverty and the wastage of resources.
Gift-A-Deed combines the scalability of sharing economy technologies, which provide the convenience of real-time information, and crowdsourcing apps like Pokemon Go!, which adds a fun element to using technology for good.
Happiness comes from helping others, which is the cornerstone of Gift-A-Deed.
Did your career in the commercial and shipping industry affect your journey in developing Gift-A-Deed?
I have had the opportunity to travel the world. One common theme that came out of these experiences was that poverty and income disparity exists everywhere. In developed cities like Hong Kong and Singapore, poverty is hidden, away from day-to-day life. In developing countries like India, and some African or Latin American countries, it is visible, and you are constantly confronted by it.
At the same time, I saw, in every city, that people who are living in excess recognize and empathize with those living in poverty. While the intent is there to help others, there was a missing piece of the puzzle, which was a way for them to help people efficiently.
What is the biggest challenge in promoting charity work in our current society?
We need to connect awareness of needs in a community to calls-to-action. Gift-A-Deed allows anyone who wants to take on charitable acts to do so in their own time and space, without necessarily giving money or committing a significant amount of time, which is not possible for everyone.
Gift-A-Deed encourages ‘people2people’ donations. Can you share more about how the app facilitates engagement?
Gift-A-Deed also gamifies the charitable giving process by rewarding “giftadeed” points to both ‘taggers’ (people who ‘tag’ needs on the app) and ‘fulfillers’ (people who fulfill the needs). This experience allows a link between the real and digital worlds.
Can you comment on the role of tech in humanitarian relief?
We have seen technology impact every sphere of our life. The time for using technology for doing good has arrived. Apart from enabling real-time communication, it can also connect people who can bring out the best of humanity and human values.
Can you share the future of Gift-A-Deed with us?
We have chosen to grow organically through partnerships with various communities around the globe. At the same time, we are engaging with governments and NGOs to make them aware of our platform, which is free to use for anyone.
The future of Gift-A-Deed is to be a standard for global humanitarian platforms and to stay true to its purpose of helping to improve and save the lives of those in need anywhere, anytime.