According to a World Bank report on information and technology in Africa, a lot of young ICT innovators and entrepreneurs in the continent lose their ideas and startups to big corporations who then proceed to implement them and reap huge profits from them.
The trend is normally due to poverty that forces the green innovators to sell off their ideas at meager prices. Lack of proper ICT policies in a majority of the African countries has also been blamed for this sorry trend.
To achieve the MDG goals, African countries must stop emphasizing so much on agriculture and start investing in ICT in much the same way as the western countries do. But how do we implement ICT policies in countries that can barely feed their population?
The answer I believe lies in Crowdfunding.
Crowdfunding as a general concept borrows from the idea of crowdsourcing. However instead of ideas, the crowds in Crowdfunding mostly contribute monetary support towards a project. It involves the mobilization of large groups of people, essentially through social media, to contribute money towards a project.
Initially, Crowdfunding was mostly used for creative works funding. Through time, it has evolved to include funding for almost any conceivable idea under the moon including nonprofit deals, political campaigns and startups.
How does Crowdfunding operate?
To make this possible, Crowdfunding websites exist from where ideas are posted and the innovator will encourage friends and well-wishers to contribute towards the project, if it hits the goal set, the money will then be released to the inventor/innovator being crowdfunded. If however the goal is not met within the stipulated time period all monies are returned to the respective contributors.
There are basically two types of Crowdfunding concepts; contribution-based and securities-based.
In contribution-based Crowdfunding concept, the fundraiser offers to give small ‘gifts’ to the contributors in thanks of their contribution. So let’s say for instance that an IT student wants to develop some kind of app that will measure the amount of sugar and alert a diabetic person, he may wish to offer several copies of the app to the contributors.
In securities-based Crowdfunding contributions, fundraisers seek to solicit huge monetary contributions in return for partial ownership of the rights to the project. Using Crowdfunding to raise capital for you project is relatively easy. All you have to do is create a profile with one of the Crowdfunding websites (Kickstarter.com and IndieGoGo.com are by far the most popular ones). After creating a profile, you draw up a plan outlining how much money you are going to need for your project, within which duration you think you may raise the amount and how you are going to utilize the contributed money. After that, you have the option of detailing how and when you are going to reward the contributors.
Once you have streamlined your profile, it is time to start the real hard work; mobilizing friends, relatives, followers and anonymous internet users to contribute to your project. Using social networking sites is by far the most popular and success proven way of having your friends contribute to you project. Burn up your iPad batteries, Flood your LinkedIn, Facebook.com and Twitter.com timelines with your pleas for contributions, chances are you will make your mark if your project is worthy enough.
After the contributions, the main point of difference among the various Crowdfunding websites sets in. while some Crowdfunding websites such as Kickstarter will not release the funds if you have not hit yout target mark, others like IndieGoGo and GofundMe release any amount of money that may have been contributed.
Do you believe that Crowdfunding will solve the problem of young ICT innovators in Africa?