Crowdfunding: can it be a real solution in Zimbabwe?

Trycolyn Pikirayi Avatar

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I got a little heartbroken when I checked out the Kickstarter crowdfunding website. The first post I saw was 329% funded, had a total amount of $12835, 392 backers and still had 10 more days to go; I really won’t bother talking about the rest of the posts because it can become depressing.

Well, of course that on its own is not the source of the heart break. The heart break came about because prior to checking that particular website, I had gone through two of our own crowdfunding websites and the most funded post on Tswanda is currently at 26% which is equal to $132 and still has 45 days to go which is a bit of a relief but the rest of the posts were already closed each with less than 5% funding. The next site I looked at was Fund 4 Crowd which seemed to be perfoming better but still had a total of zero successfully crowdfunded posts!

OK, maybe let me start by defining what crowdfunding is using the Wikipedia (…I know!) definition. Crowdfunding is the practice of funding a project or venture by raising monetary contributions from a large number of people. Crowdfunding is a form of crowdsourcing and of alternative financing. We might talk about crowdsourcing and alternative financing in detail some other time but basically crowdfunding is as simple as described by the initial statement.

Back to what broke my heart – our response! Well, I’m guilty as charged because I didn’t even send a penny even after seeing the sorry sight. That got me thinking… is it because I grew up in a society that is not just big on giving? By giving I mean giving to strangers. I could totally bend over backwards to give a friend or at familiar face at least, but when it comes to that beggar on the street, it a different story. The funny part is that, say that very same beggar is introduced by someone I know, I would not hesitate to give them whatever I can.

So, is it an issue of trust or it’s just me tryna feel better about myself???

We often are skeptical of where our money is going and how it’s going to be used. I mean this is money we are talking about, even if it’s just a dollar, we really want to see the breakdown of that dollar! I don’t know whether to classify this as a poverty mindset or as being responsible, I really don’t know.

However, there is a way to address this situation regardless of it being a result of either of the two. Authentication. Authenticating both the site an the ‘benefaciaries’. Some legal backup could do the trick in ensuring that the money really goes where it ought to, as well as ensure that the receiver of the funds does exactly what they would have specified the funds to be for.

Also, maybe a little extra effort of putting a testimonial section (or even the budget) of how the money raised from the site has helped in making a difference to the startup (or whatever else cause in question).

Secondly, I get that we generally do not have money in Zim or maybe at least those who do, don’t go around searching the net for crowdfunding websites. Let’s break that statement down into statement A and B so that we look at the two different reasons (or excuses so to say) brought forth by it.

Statement A basically says we are broke, we can hardly afford our own upkeep, what more for total strangers we find on the internet? But I don’t know how true that is considering how fast we managed to raise $8000 for suing the police…

Statement B on the other hand says that the people who have the money to give (more like are willing to give, but OK) by some chance never come across such sites. If yes, then the solution lies in making the presence of these sites be felt through intensive marketing.

Considering that there is sooo much to read or know about out there, it means that these sites (as well as everyone else who feels that they might need such a service now or in future) should really give people reason to actually pause and want to know about them. I’m sure everyone can learn a thing or two from Econet’s marketing strategies – well of course they have the money, but I think we have made enough excuses for the day already, so instead let’s improvise and find other ways of going about it.

So can crowdfunding be a real solution in Zimbabwe? A big yes if implemented well.

It’s time to give it another try and maybe this time we will get it right. Having said all this, it only makes sense for me to go back to Tswanda and part with a few of my pennies too right? Okay, off I go!