How Crowdfunding Is Making the World a Better Place
Let us begin by telling you a tale.
Once upon a time, in the not-so-distant
past (2008, to be precise), a young writer started a crowdfunding experiment
called The Omikuji Project. She needed earnings to supplement her household
income between novels and wanted to thank those supporting her budding career.
So each month, she wrote a new story for paying subscribers. The Omikuji
Project became “a unique way for you to read stories unavailable in any other
venue, in any other way” and ran for five years.
Perhaps emboldened by her project’s
outcome, she started a crowdfunded novel. New sections were added to her
website every Monday and eager readers donated to read more.
That novel, The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making,
became the first online, crowdfunded book to win a major literary award: the
Locus Andre Norton Award. It was also picked up for traditional publishing.
Catherynne M. Valente herself is now famous,
with critical accolades and commercial success. Her work has made it to the New
York Times bestseller and she has been nominated for the most prestigious
science fiction and fantasy awards.
Let us continue by telling you a different
Once upon a time, in the not-so-distant
past (2009, to be precise), a crowdfunding project called Floating Doctors
launched on the platform Kickstarter. The project was completely funded in less
than a month.
Floating Doctors is a sea-faring medical
group that provides free health care and medical supplies to needy communities
in remote coastal regions. It is the brainchild of Dr. Benjamin LaBrot. He
first came up with the concept after running out of supplies when treating
villagers in Africa. He resolved to bring a bigger backpack next time. Today,
LaBrot’s “backpack” is a sailboat named The Southern Wind, capable of carrying
20,000 pounds of medical supplies.
The Kickstarter campaign paid for The
Southern Wind’s maiden voyage to Haiti in 2010. The money was used for the
sailboat’s final prep, along with medical supplies and equipment. Today,
Floating Doctors has expanded their mission to Honduras and Panama. Their
operations are still currently running.
Witness the magic of crowdfunding. Many
creative projects by promising yet unknown artists were born thanks to this
mode of alternative financing. Crowdfunding has also funneled funds to social
causes and charities.
Here at Funding Societies, we have
translated the concept into a peer-to-peer lending platform meant to help grow
and strengthen local Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs). Did you know that
according to The
Singapore Department of Statistics, 99% of Singapore enterprises are SMEs? SMEs are the backbone of our economy. And yet a Visa and
Deloitte Digital SME Banking Study shows that four
in ten SMEs in Singapore lack banking support – this despite a Singapore Business Federation National
Business Survey that shows 72% of Singapore SMEs requires funds to better
manage their working capital and aid cash flow.
Here at Funding Societies, we dream of
achieving three goals: empowering SMEs, providing new investment opportunities
in Singapore, and growing the economy.
This may sound like a fairy tale, some
of you might think. Indeed, there is a touch of rags-to-riches in most success
stories. Some stories are so breathtaking that one can get suspicious. Great.
We are not here to tell you “let your guard down.” Be aware. Be sensible.
Beware of fraud. These are good rules to keep in mind. Once crowdfunding,
peer-to-peer lending, and alternative financing have better regulations, they
will be easier to trust.
Let us end these tales simply.
Grounded in sound checks and balances,
crowdfunding and alternative financing are forces for good. In fact, as
evidenced by many examples, they are helping to make the world a better place.
So do your research, ask questions to
your heart’s satisfaction, and start crowdfunding when the answers are
positive. You’ll play a role in growing the arts, growing the community, and growing the economy.