Raul Romero ’22 launched the program for Venezuelans in the midst of a humanitarian crisis. | WITH THE AUTHORIZATION OF YAKERA
On September 28, Yakera, an online crowdfunding platform created by Raul Romero ’22, will launch a newly redesigned and user-friendly website and roll out of a pilot program to become an accredited non-profit organization.
In 2020, Romero launched the platform to support individuals and organizations in Venezuela, campaigning for better education, healthcare, and support for small businesses. The platform aims to provide aid to Venezuelans affected by the current humanitarian crisis. Yakera, which means gratitude in Warao – an indigenous language in Venezuela – gives cash assistance directly to Venezuelans through donations.
So far, Yakera has served 30 families and has raised a total of approximately $ 10,000 during its pilot program.
Romero is thrilled that more new features are coming soon. In less than two months, there will be a hub on the website where donors can track their donations and connect with recipients via social media. Additionally, Yakera will launch a new Virtual Reality (VR) experience, through which donors will be able to view individual stories in VR.
Currently, a number of sanctions are imposed on outgoing Venezuelan President NicolÃ¡s Maduro and his administration. Maduro won an election in 2018, but many, including the United States government, claim the election was rigged and view opposition leader Juan GuaidÃ³ as the legitimate interim president.
Romero, who grew up in Venezuela before going to high school in the United States, realized that international restrictions imposed on Venezuela presented challenges for other fundraising platforms, such as GoFundMe and Kickstarter. He founded Yakera to meet these challenges.
âWhat we’re trying to solve is the efficiency and the problem of distribution, as well as empowering people. We think they know their needs better than we do, âsaid Romero.
In order to return control of financial distribution to Venezuelans, Yakera users must request assistance through the association’s approval process. Venezuelans should seek help in one of four areas: nutrition, healthcare, education, and small business. âOur verification is even more thorough than other existing platforms,â Romero said.
Once approved, people can create a campaign where they share their story and their intended use for fundraising. Donors can then donate money to individuals through the Yakera platform. Yakera will transfer the money via AirTM to the applicant’s account, who can then choose to withdraw the money or spend it directly on goods and services in Venezuela. Yakera will ask the recipient to prove that they purchased the goods or services they requested.
The revamped website will launch in Spanish on September 28, and the English website will be released a week later. Romero hopes to have all the new features live in the next couple of months. âThere’s a lot to come, and I’m really excited to know where we’re going,â he said.