In recent years crowdfunding has proved to be an enormously successful non-traditional method for raising funds (click here for our last blog post explaining crowdfunding). There are many examples of successful campaigns raising big amounts for numerous projects and ventures – have a look here and there to get an idea of what “successful” can potentially mean. However, as with many internet-based trends, few of these examples are in South Africa. Due to high telecoms costs and relatively low internet penetration, internet-based ventures usually take longer to gain traction in South Africa.
Hub Johannesburg is going to be launching its own crowdfunding campaign very soon. This has posed some unique challenges. For example, most South Africans are not familiar with the concept of crowdfunding. So before we were able to approach our local community we had to first explain to them what it is (and are still busy doing so). One of the objectives of our campaign is not just to raise funds, but also to build awareness around and confidence in the effectiveness of crowdfunding in South Africa.
Another challenge presented itself in terms of the rewards we had to offer. Our community spans borders – we have a close network both locally and internationally. But how to create rewards that would seem appealing to a worldwide community? Creating interesting rewards and well-chosen tiers is after all very important for the success of a campaign. For the lower tiers the solution can be – and in fact is for many campaigns – to have relatively light items that you can ship around the world. For the higher tiers it becomes more tricky and the more creative the better. And in the end contributors are as much if not even more motivated by a desire to be involved rather than the wish to get something in return.
Which is why key to any campaign is activating your community to contribute to a cause everyone is interested in bringing into existence. So apart from mobilising your network to actively speak about the campaign and to share it with others, it is essential to recruit ambassadors, that is persons outside of the campaign-team that take ownership and step up to promote it within their respective networks.
We hope that our crowdfunding campaign will provide some important lessons in alternative methods of accessing capital in South Africa and we will continue to share our learnings on our blog. Meanwhile, have a look at the campaign here and if you like it be welcome to contribute and spread the word.