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How the Founders of Givfunds Met in the Oddest of Places: A Third-class Indian Sleeper Train

Few co-founders can boast of a more unlikely place to meet. In a rumbling train cabin somewhere on the Eastern part of India, I was sardined next to a complete stranger exchanging pleasantries – just like I had done for the past 14 days. Little would I have known that this conversation would lead me back to India to start Givfunds. In fact, Irwan happened to be one of the scruffier people I’ve met that day. (To be fair, I probably looked worse, having not showered in almost a week!)

We were on Jagriti Yatra, a yearly train journey across India that packed over 400 changemakers from all over India… And then there was me, part of a ragtag band of 29 international participants who somehow slipped through the door. The Yatra brought us to travel together for 16 days on an Indian train to visit Indian social enterprises, non-profits, and businesses who have changed millions

of lives. During the journey, we visited renown impact organisations such as Aravind Eye Care, Goonj, and Akshaya Patra Foundation.

Irwan and I jumped into the conversation, sharing about our experiences and talking about the problems we saw facing social entrepreneurs. But to be honest, it didn’t seem very different from any of the previous conversations either of us had in the preceding 2 weeks. Coupled with social exhaustion creeping in, neither of us were the best conversationalists.

It was therefore strange that, 2 weeks after the Yatra, I somehow decided to try striking up a conversation with him. Fast forward almost 2 years later, Irwan and I have since started Givfunds and are trying to solve some of the problems we spoke about on that day on the train!



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