Johannesburg - By allowing a large number of people to pledge small amounts of money to a project, crowdfunding is considered a new way to raise capital and make ideas a reality.
It is also a good way to create a base of supporters for a project or test if people want a product, without incurring debt.
Patrick Schofield, a social-entrepreneur from Zimbabwe, launched the first African crowdfunding platform, Thundafund, in CapeTown four months ago.
What inspired you to create Thundafund?
From my experience of working in social-entrepreneurship for over 20 years and recognising that there are these two critical areas, finding capital and skills, to make the idea happen. I saw crowdfunding as a means to do that.
Today, if I have a project and I want to launch a crowdfunding campaign, how exactly does it work?
Crowdfunding works on a rewards basis. If you have a project, you will submit it on the Thundafund platform. We will populate it and ask you what type of rewards you would be offering people who back your project, when you expect it to be completed by, and what your project is all about.
For example, if you had a project to create a new range of T-shirts, you would say: for R50 supporting my project, I will send you a thank you letter; for R100, you will get invited to the launch of my new T-shirt range; for R200, you will get one of these T-shirts and this is what they are going to look like; for R400 you get two T-shirts in different colours; for R500, we will create a T-shirt that is unique and made just for you.
So, you will have a target set. You say “if we reach the target of R10 000, the minimum we need to do the first print run of the T-shirts, then our project will happen and it’s a go!”
Four months after launching your platform, what are the results?
We have had 45 projects launched on Thundafund. It means that R500 000 has been raised for new projects. So, it has been very successful!
During the next three years, we are looking to expand massively to launch 3 300 projects on Thundafund, which will represent R170 million in total.
What has been the biggest difficulty since launching?
Educating people on how crowdfunding works. It is a new concept of funding which sits in between philanthropy and investment.
Before Thundafund, you launched three other social enterprises, what advice could you give to young South Africans who want to embark on an entrepreneurial adventure to help society?
Stay focused and don’t give up. If you have a fantastic idea and you are passionate, don’t let other people tell you that it is not worthwhile. - The Star