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Why Crowdfunding Can Fuel Economic Development in Africa
editorial

Why Crowdfunding Can Fuel Economic Development in Africa

Editor's Note: Ahmed Zrikem, founder and CEO of JumpStart Africa, writes in to discuss why he thinks crowdfunding can be a force for good in the developing world and what his platform hopes to achieve. You can follow the latest from the company on Twitter @jumpstartafrica. Guest contributors' opinions are their own and do not necessarily reflect the view of Crowdsourcing.org.

Crowdfunding initiatives are a growing force in helping individuals and businesses achieve their goals. Crowdfunding platforms such as Kickstarter have been vital in allowing bright minds and entrepreneurs to fund their projects, and it is not just the customer that benefits, but the wider economy.

You might see crowdfunding as simply a way for people to fund their business ventures and creative personal projects, but when you take a step back it is easy to see the associated benefits and the positive things that can follow — especially in developing nations.

There are few places on Earth that could benefit as highly from crowdfunding as Africa. In areas that lack a developed economy and infrastructure, bright minds and talents are hindered in fulfilling their potential. But with crowdfunding executed in the right way, for the right people and the right places, the incredible potential for creativity and innovation can be harnessed for the benefit of African communities, nations and the wider world.

When members of communities are able to enact their ideas, it is not just themselves that benefit, but the entire community. Top-down funding may help to improve circumstances for a short while, but there are countless case studies which show that this approach is not sustainable.

Crowdfunding, on the other hand, is a bottom-up approach to funding, giving the people that deserve the money and have a clear idea of how they are going use it the chance to improve their lives and the lives of others around them. This method of funding is much more sustainable, as it empowers communities at the most fundamental level and allows them to contribute to their local economies and fuel economic development.

Crowdfunding is also a safe and secure method of raising finance. The system is operated in such a manner as to bypass interference by government and federal scrutiny and taxation bodies, reducing the risk of corruption or depletion of the amounts raised.

Jumpstart Africa, the organization I founded, is a dedicated platform which is going to centralize crowdfunding initiatives for the continent, and the desire is for this platform to be the flag bearer in helping to boost economies and support sustainable growth. 

Each project registered with Jumpstart Africa will be a defined project with a clearly stated objective and end result. The projects will offer opportunities for backers to assist in funding in areas of specific interest, and unlike with charitable donations where the assistance provided is unclear and not always tangible to the donor. At Jumpstart Africa, backers will have a clear idea of how their money is being put to use. Although the ethos of giving does not infer a return on investment, all investors in Jumpstart Africa projects will receive some benefit or perks in recognition of their donation.

Of the many benefits that crowdfunding has to offer the world, its revolutionary potential as a supporting agent for people in developing countries is the best.

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