Crowdfunding: Ubuntu Finance in South Africa
Wednesday, September 23, 2015
Many South Africans dream of getting their concepts off the ground, but they lack the funding to make it reality. Too often their ideas are put on the back-burner for ‘one day’ – when they have accumulated enough wealth; when they finally secure that loan; or when the right investor shows up carrying a suitcase filled with cash.
Enter crowdfunding, fast becoming a viable option for investors and business owners – offering a means for start-up businesses to seek capital, and for investors to look for places to invest their money and time.
What is crowdfunding?
Subhas Shah, project and community manager at one of South Africa’s biggest crowdfunders, Thundafund.com, defines crowdfunding as “an online lever allowing the public to bring projects to life, financially and collectively.”
In short, it can be defined as funding by the people – a model that aligns well with the African concept of Ubuntu (loosely translated as the spirit of community and togetherness).
The concept is based on the crowdfunding model that has experienced extraordinary uptake in the Americas and Europe. Thundafund is one of many such sites emerging in South Africa, joining the likes of StartMe and Fundfind.
At its core, Thundafund.com allows a large number of people to each invest small amounts into a project or idea. In essence they pre-sell ‘rewards’ related to their project to backers in exchange for their contribution. Small amounts soon add up to the capital required, simply due to the crowd factor.
Although it’s a relatively new concept in South Africa, it has taken off. According to Shah, Thundafund has already brought in R4 771,358 from 5,217 people, successfully funding 128 projects since its founding in June 2013.