The concept of crowdfunding is brilliant. Instead of waiting for the usual quarters for help (banks, government, NGOs, embassies and donor organisations) individuals with a need can directly appeal to ordinary people for funding.
Startups can get help funding an idea, people can get fund their health bills, raise school fees, or even raise money for a cause. It’s by no means a new concept globally; platforms like Indiegogo, Kickstarter, Gofundme have existed for years and have, helped people raise, combined, tens of billions of dollars to date.
You’d think that in Africa and countries like Zimbabwe specifically, where formal channels for funding are hostile, crowdfunding would be big already. Not so. Despite many individuals setting up websites (really just installing a website, and doing nothing much else), no crowdfunding service has stood out here in Zimbabwe.
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That may change though. A relatively new service called Tswanda seems to be getting some traction.
With just 15 funding campaigns on the site so far, Tswanda has been successfully used to get 100% funding for 2 campaigns; a $1,135 Christmas Bonus fund for the Staff of the Adolescent and Adult Rape Clinic and a $226 Chema fund. The bulk of the campaigns though didn’t get much funding, with some raising as little as $33.
According to Tswanda’s rules, unless a campaign gets at least $100, the campaigner doesn’t get the money. If one raises more than $100, though, Tswanda charges 10% of the money raised as platform fees.
An interesting campaign that just went up on Tswanda is one to Free Patson Dzamara and Occupy Africa Unity Square Activists, who were jailed recently and had their bail set an amount they can’t afford. At the time of writing this, the campaign had after 1 day raised $255 of the $10,000 required. if you haven’t heard of this group, you can read more about there here.
Tswanda accepts payments by Mastercard, Visa, and all the local mobile money options in Zimbabwe like EcoCash and Telecash.
The slant of all the campaigns so far is causes and not business. This may become Tswanda’s default niche as a funding platform. It’s interesting to see if there’s going to be a crowdfunding platform like Tswanda for entrepreneurs, of if Tswanda will grow to serve these other spaces adequately.