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18-year-old Ashvika Dhir recently finished her first year at Bryn Mawr College. Back in 2012, a family trip to India inspired her to start CauseHub, a website that informs young people about various charitable causes, nonprofit organizations, and local volunteer opportunities. She spoke to Like A Boss Girls about how it all came together.
How did CauseHub get started?
My family is from India, and we took a trip there the summer after my eighth grade year. I had gone to India multiple times with my family before, but that was the first time that I was old enough to comprehend how much disparity there was, and how many kids are out there. I took my vacation time and turned it into productive time by volunteering at Mother Teresa Orphanage and a school for mentally disabled children. I was really happy that I could finally make an impact, that I wasn’t just sitting around the whole summer. I talked to friends back home, and none of them had even heard of the organizations; they wanted to know how they could help. When I came back to the United States, that inspired me to create an online platform so young adults could connect with these small nongovernmental organizations and charities in the United States and around the world.
How did you create the actual website?
I talked to my dad about the idea, and he said, “Let me see if I can try to get help on the tech side,” because I unfortunately do not have any knowledge of coding—which I would like to learn eventually. We found developers from India who were willing to work with us, and that was difficult with the time difference. Since then, we’ve gotten help from some web designers in California, who are willing to donate their time, and essentially doing it for free, because we don’t have the funding. That was how the first template came about. I was there for the entire process, from selecting the colors and fonts, to selecting what would be most approachable for users that had never used a website before.
Who are you hoping to reach with CauseHub?
Mostly, I’m hoping to reach young adults here in the United States. I know that recently there’s been a movement toward helping and volunteering and that might be from multiple motivations—whether it’s for college applications or just a genuine interest in helping others. I wanted to create a central platform or hub (which is why it’s named CauseHub) so that everyone could reach out and make a more productive use of their time rather than just scrolling Facebook for hours. It kind of filters out the unnecessary news and focuses on how people can directly help.
What has been your proudest moment with CauseHub so far?
In October 2014, I was nominated by the U.S. Department of State to go to Malaysia for a global entrepreneurship summit. They saw my website, and they liked the representation I was giving to these small groups that couldn’t create it for themselves. There, I was able to meet about five hundred entrepreneurs who are much older than I was. It was just an eye-opening experience and recognition for something I was doing. It validated all of my efforts toward the website, and pushed me to keep going.
What are your plans for CauseHub in the future?
Right now, because of funding and time constraints, we’ve plateaued at this one spot. My hope for the future is to expand the website to a larger audience, and eventually, if there’s enough worldwide support, to create specific pages such as CauseHub India, CauseHub Africa. I want it to become a daily and habitual destination for young adults to check where they can donate their time.
What are your personal plans for the future?
Right now, my plan is to get through the next three years of undergraduate, and then possibly going to grad school. I’m currently interning at the U.S. Fund for Unicef, so I’m trying to see how I can further impact the nonprofit world, and figure out if that’s potentially a career path that I’d like to take. A lot of that is still up in the air and undecided at this point.
What advice would you give someone who wants to start giving back for the first time?
I would say, first, find the thing that you’re very passionate about. If you’re doing something that you’re not very interested in, it comes across. Find something you really, really like, and just go all in with eyes open. Be open minded, because it might not be a situation that you’re familiar with. As you get more acclimated, take in what you can, and help as much as you can—give 100%.
For more information, check out CauseHub.com.