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Eli Epstein‘s feature on Mashable about Mohammed Rezwan’s ingenious mission and the story behind his floating schools in Bangladesh is inspiring. Eli is a Branded Content Writer at Mashable who was previously a news reporter and editor at MSN News. Mashable is a leading source for news, information & resources for the Connected Generation.

How one architect transformed education in flood-ravaged Bangladesh through ‘floating schools’

By Eli Epstein | Mashable | 7/22/15

In Bangladesh, roughly one-third of the country, much of which sits only a meter above sea level, goes underwater during monsoon season from June to October.

Rezwan’s idea was to flood-proof education by designing and building a fleet of floating schools that could be replicated in other developing countries ravaged by floods. The same year he graduated, Rezwan embarked on his plan, called Shidhulai Swanirvar Sangstha, with just $500 and a laptop.

For the next four years, he balanced building his first school boat with attracting international fundraisers and local supporters. After emailing hundreds of organizations, Rezwan received a $3,000 grant from the Global Fund for Children in 2003 that allowed him to build and demonstrate the idea to local families.

“I wanted it to have a cultural-friendly design that helps people create ownership into project,” Rezwan says. “The boats are built with local knowledge and villagers provide the labor and materials.”

After the seed donation from the Global Fund for Children, Shidhulai received $100,000 from the Levi Strauss Foundation and $1 million from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which helped the organization greatly expand its fleet and objectives.

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Floating Schools in Bangladesh

Mohammed Rezwan is arming hundreds of Bangladeshi children with the most powerful weapon in the universe.  Education. Power. Change.

With minimal “seed money” and a substantial goal, Rezwan’s concept and approach to funding floating schools in Bangladesh is an example to learn from.

Making Your Ideas Float

Do you have an idea that will make a big impact or grow your organization’s mission?

Ideas cost money–which we know isn’t always flowing at a nonprofit (hence the combination of terms “non” and “profit.”) What you do have is supporters that have already invested in the work of your organization.

In the for-profit sector, “seed money” refers to a monetary investment by venture capitalists to help a business get started with the expectation of a financial return at a later time.

So, how does the “seed money” concept work for nonprofits?

Crowdfunding is the nonprofit equivalent of having your own venture capital source, except that for contributors, the priceless rewards come from emotional satisfaction instead of financial gains, and the anticipation of future benefits, are instead, the hopes for improving of the lives of others in need. Nonprofits with big ideas for delivering their mission should see mobile crowdfunding campaigns as the perfect tool for pitching and funding their proof of concept or new goal. Once you reach your first target, you can then raise the bar to keep fundraising efforts, and the good work you are doing, going on as long as they are needed.  Whether your supporters donate money, time, or in-need skills, mobile crowdfunding allows them to easily get behind your goals to turn your org’s dreams into reality.

Simple Steps To Take To Get Started Crowdfunding for Your Cause

1. Set up a keyword and crowdfunding hub-page.

2. Share keyword and/or links with supporters.

3. Supporters can make a donation or sign up to start fundraise on your behalf within their own social networks.

4. Donations and donor data are directly and securely sent to the organization.

It takes only minutes for anyone–regardless of technological capabilities–to set up a MobileCause crowdfunding page from any computer, tablet or smartphone and then share it with everyone they know across all channels of communication.

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