Crowdfunding: A new approach for raising finance

Sunday, November 11, 2015
Francis Yoo
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Do you have an innovative idea? Are you struggling to pilot your idea due to your financial situation? WindPower Nepal has been facing the same barriers when it comes to innovative ideas that has been internally generated by passionate and self-motivated staff members. We acknowledge that there exists lots of innovative ideas for businesses, projects and programs all around the world that ONLY remains as an idea. With limited access to funds, many creative innovators are left behind without the opportunity to showcase their idea. This lack of financial resources remain the biggest challenge for many of innovative ventures. WPN has come across an interesting way to generate funds; through crowdfunding.

What is crowdfunding? Crowdfunding is an alternative solution to funding innovative ideas without relying on conventional loaning systems that will accumulate large amounts of debt. Like how the term suggests, crowdfunding is asking to numerous people for small amounts of generous giving. The online platform is posted to the general public all across the world to donate small amounts of money to accumulate a large sum of money as an investment for your idea. For example, rather than asking one person for a million dollars, it is about asking million people to donate a dollar each.

There are three main crowdfunding platforms: KickStarter, Indiegogo and GoFundMe. These were the most popular online platforms for crowdfunding. All these have their own unique themes and types of projects that can be supported by the platform. Another consideration you have to make is that each platform requires different specific criterion of ideas. Nevertheless, when used right and with good communication skills, these platforms can be home to many successful campaigns, sometimes reaching way beyond their projected goals.

Crowdfunding is used by different people for different reasons; it may be used to help start-up of a business or aid a personal cause. As a business entrepreneur, crowdfunding can be used to assess the market for your product before it is in the market. As a NGO you can use crowdfunding to reach and receive support from those people who share the same or similar beliefs. As an individual, you can use crowdfunding to help an urgent, personal and emotional cause. The only catch about crowdfunding is that the platforms are only available to those who have bank accounts in the following countries: USA, Europe, Canada, and Australia.

Also, depending on what kind of idea you have and depending on what strategies you use to plan different platforms can be used. Personal causes, such as death, accident, traumatic incident, medical issues or educational, can be raised through GoFundMe. On GoFundMe you do not necessarily need to have a NGO or business idea to raise funds. Although this platform may not earn you significant amounts of money for a cause, other platforms can help you raise significant amount of money towards the start of a project or product. Indiegogo is used commonly to raise funds for different projects and products. Innovative ideas for projects and products attract donors. Perks are commonly used to attract and involve the donors in the development of your proposed project or products. For example, to launch a campaign on KickStarter, you must have a prototype. The campaign cannot be a platform to raise funds for your prototype. KickStarter is focused on helping new entrepreneurs to gather funds to launch their new product and to assess the market of your product.

However, it is not as easy as it seems because you are not the only one with an interesting, exciting, emotional and innovative idea. It is highly competitive and successful campaigns usually earns 40% of funding through up to third degree parties. More time and effort will be used in promoting the campaign. Although designing and creating the platform is important, it is important that you are constantly providing updates and progress of project or product to the donors. Video is highly recommended by various campaigners and platforms to use a professional video to share your innovative, emotional and engaging stories.

At WindPower Nepal, the team is currently working to launch a crowdfunding campaign to support an environmental education project that will identify local innovators that may help the local community members of Barpak in rebuilding their village that has been completely destroyed by the 2015 April earthquake. Barpak has been widely known as an energy self-reliant and self-sufficient community. With the implementation of micro-hydro power plant in the late 1990s by a young innovator named Bir Bahadur Ghale, the community has significantly progressed economically and culturally. However, the earthquake on April 25th, 2015 destroyed the micro-hydro power plant leaving the community electrified. Since then there has been a halt in most of the community’s economic activities.

Realizing the vast possibilities of creative and innovative solutions within the young people of Barpak, WindPower Nepal, and its partner organization Story Cycle, is dedicated to shed light to the hidden talents and ideas of the local people. WindPower proudly supports the Student Talent Appreciation Project (STAP) which will empower and enhance the ability of the community to identify, design, implement and maintain local community development strategies. The idea for STAP has been developed as an extension of Story Cycle’s project Build Camp. STAP seeks to identify these innovative and creative individuals within the community by hosting a series of five contests that will incorporate all young age groups in the process of their community development.

STAP is designed to incorporate the local community members at all stages of the contemporary development phases (needs assessment, project implementation, monitoring and evaluation), thus making this community development full participatory and inclusive approach. Future details on the campaign will be posted on the WindPower Nepal’s website at www.windpowernepal.com.

For more information, please check our presentation available in Slideshares http://www.slideshare.net/kushalgurung/introduction-to-crowdfunding-55620119

(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of WindPower Nepal Pvt Ltd.)

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