For many entrepreneurs around the world, crowdfunding is a viable funding option to validate and start their business ideas. Indiegogo and Kickstarter are two of many platforms helping do this. There are also other platforms that allow these entrepreneurs to take loans or equity funding. Kiva is a great example of this.
This means bringing business dreams into reality is never an uphill task as long as funding is the issue.
Also, many mentors and coaches from the developed nations tell you that funding is not a big issue. And they mean it because of the availability of different funding options in their contexts.
Come to Somalia, a country where the majority of it is entrepreneurs are not aware of the power of crowdfunding. The community even goes as far as equating the concept of crowdfunding to “begging”. And this creates challenges for the young entrepreneurs we are incubating at IITE Institute who can’t use it mainly because of peer and social pressures. “Why would I post my startup idea and beg for money on social media? It’s embarrassing.”, they tell you.
But, we believe crowdfunding should have been embraced in Somalia a long-time ago. We say this because getting access to finance is one of the biggest hurdles for young entrepreneurs in Somalia. Talk about the word “collateral” and you will evoke bad memories for many young entrepreneurs who tried to raise funds from the banks. And if they are reading this post, they will agree with us.
To challenge this myth and take the lead in efforts to promote crowdfunding in Somalia, IITE Institute organized a very colorful Crowdfunding Bootcamp in Mogadishu on November 27, 2020. The aim of the bootcamp was to engage young aspiring entrepreneurs in validating their startup ideas and finding real funding for their new business through “crowdfunding”.
To make it more fun and engaging, we even awarded the Best Startup Idea ($500) and Best Crazy Hour Crowdfunder ($500). Astur Hijabs was selected as the Best Startup Idea. They proposed a very innovative business idea that uses locally available materials to produce fashion clothes that are compatible with the Islamic dress code. Also, team from Somalia National Skills & Training Center has raised $4,471 in one hour and were chosen as the Best Crazy Hour Crowdfunder.
To our surprise, our entrepreneurs raised $32,355 in ONE HOUR. Yes, that is in one hour! In an event that was meant to create awareness for “crowdfunding”, it led us to create a moment and community that believes in crowdfunding.
At the end of the day, the bootcamp proved that crowdfunding is a viable funding option.