Indian Elections: How people supported their favorite candidates by crowdfunding

The Bernie Sanders-inspired startup is raising election expenses for capable candidates through crowdfunding.

Reshaping Indian elections: India’s first political fundraising campaign


Raising 7 million for student activist Kanhaiya Kumar, crowdfunding startup Our Democracy is reshaping Indian elections. Not only elections, but it is also shaking up the sphere of political fundraising overall.

Our Democracy wants to provide aspiring political change-makers to make an impact in ongoing Indian elections. The start-up aims at redefining the funding process and setting up an online community that believes in and financially support the cause of young candidates in Indian elections.

Firstly, it started when the founder Bilal Zaidi when to the USA after quitting journalism job in India. Along with his career, he was inspired by the fundraising campaign of Bernie Sanders. Bernie, a presidential candidate, raised $8 million in a day. For this reason, it inspired Bilal and he wanted to implement a similar model evidently dedicated to independent journalism.

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Reshaping Indian Elections:

Founders of Our Democracy – Bilal Zaidi (left) and Anand Mangnale


The startup has reshaped the upcoming general elections. Additionally, it has provided financial support to capable candidates and notable activists. Bilal, after coming back to India, was determined to create a model away from corporate funding and help capable candidates alternatively.

“I met some volunteers from Sanders’ campaign and saw many ordinary Americans donating $5 to contribute to the movement,” he says. “It made me understand the growing relevance of political crowdfunding globally.”

After returning to India, Bilal and his friend Anand Mangnale started Crowdnewsing,  a platform to fund independent journalism in India. Subsequently, they launched Our Democracy for political crowdfunding as well.

Whom do they support?

Our Democracy helped Kanhaiya Kumar raise 70 lakhs for ongoing Indian elections in the same way.


In January 2019, a few months before Indian elections, the Crowdnewsing duo launched Our Democracy. First and foremost, the platform’s priority is helping social changemakers, particularly the ones facing financial restraints.

The platform is currently running 80 campaigns. Most of their campaigns are dedicated to political outsiders, fringe politicians and social activists. Bilal told his plan was initially termed as ‘amateur’.

“Before Kumar’s campaign, many people had told me that political crowdfunding is for amateurs. ‘Election to asli paise se lada jata hai (election is fought on real money)’, they would say. But fundraising becomes a kind of rallying point for your campaign, bringing not just money but more eyeballs and mass support.”

Owing to this revolutionary campaign, farmers and tribal leaders, Dalit activists, anti-corruption crusaders, a coal miner in Bengaldisabled candidates, a politician from Punjab championing human rights, and an intersex candidate in Kerala working for the rights of sexual minorities are participating in the upcoming Indian elections.

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