Online crowdfunding portal Itsaboutmyafrica is 100 percent dedicated to supporting and assisting projects that are designed to bring about positive change in Africa.
The site particularly looks to help secure funds for social startups and entrepreneurs who are not able to or do not want to take loans from bank, targeting projects that work within the following areas on the African continent: access to education; spreading African culture (via fashion, music, the arts and more) throughout the rest of the world; development aid; and environmental restoration and building a sustainable future. In order to cover its running costs, the platform takes an eight percent commission from campaigns that are successfully funded (i.e. those that reach their financial target).
Itsaboutmyafrica launched in 2015 and is the brainchild of Thomas Kacou, a young entrepreneur and former lobbyist from the Ivory Coast. In an interview with the Organisation internationale de la francophonie, Kacou outlined his motivation for setting up a crowdfunding platform targeted to Africa: “I wanted to work towards the development of the African continent…The question remained which route to take to get there. Crowdfunding seemed the obvious choice even beyond its apparent need for the continent’s economic environment. I think that crowdfunding should be to Africa what bees are to pollination.”
The Move Towards Crowdfunding
A 2015 report by Massolution stated that the global crowdfunding market was expected to reach 34.4 billion USD by the end of 2015. Of the 16.2 billion USD raised in 2014 via crowdfunding, just over three billion went to social causes. In Africa, crowdfunding really got underway in 2014 with the launch of Fonds Afrique pour le développement (African funds for development), a platform allowing the public to ‘invest’ in African SMEs. Since then, a handful of other platforms have popped up, some offering a broad range of campaigns and initiatives and others that are more specialised towards a certain sector such as renewable energy or (as in the case of Itsaboutmyafrica) social impact. Of the estimated 70 million USD raised in Africa via crowdfunding in 2015, more than half came via peer-to-peer lending platforms. This report by infoDev and the World Bank suggests factors such as regulation and varied e-commerce habits could be why adoption rates of crowdfunding are lower in Africa than other regions.
Despite the challenges, the African crowdfunding market is projected to grow. Critically, it could help to enable more localised, bottom-up approaches to humanitarian and environmental issues on the continent; the need for development projects in Africa to be undertaken by people from the continent is one of the driving factors behind the platform. “It is essential to be on site for projects that are connected with the continent. We have a better understanding of the on-the-ground issues,” Kacou told Radio France Internationale.
Getting Projects (and the Platform) Off the Ground
The website does not offer much information about previous campaigns that have been run via the platform however some of its past projects include a campaign for PagaBags, which takes discarded plastic and recycles it into fashionable bags and jewellery, as well as another project to help emerging basketball players in Senegal. The platform is currently running a campaign with French-based organisation Sunwaterlife, which delivers portable, solar-powered water purification systems (pictured in the top image) to people in developing countries, to bring potable water to people in Chad, Madagascar, Niger, Kenya, Nigeria, Cameroon, Mali, Senegal, Ivory Coast, Burkina Faso and Morocco. This is currently the only campaign on the site that people can contribute to but given it is still early days for Itsaboutmyafrica, hopefully there will be more projects soon.
You can support the potable water campaign here. And if your French is up to scratch, check out the blog section of their website where the team posts items about the latest social innovations coming out of the African tech and social enterprise sector.
For more information on Itsaboutmyafrica, head to the website.