As Cambodia develops, we see more and more start ups, social businesses and organizations entering the market. Individuals are taking action and launching initiatives that truly fit their values, but one problem remains the same: funds are essential to start but limited and difficult to raise.
Nevertheless, a new way of receiving donations from individuals has emerged recently, tackling this problem. People from all over the world are now launching crowdfunding campaigns thanks to numerous and diverse online platforms, allowing anyone to raise funds or donate to projects. The newest platform is about to open in Cambodia under the name តោះFUND, (pronounced TosFund in English) who we touched base with to find out more about their exciting future.
តោះFund is the first crowdfunding platform to feature exclusively Cambodian projects, tell us why you think a platform like តោះFUND is needed in Cambodia?
Funding is a chronic problem for development actors and people that want to launch new ideas. Civil society has a tendency to associate funding with foreign aid – it is not sustainable. Young entrepreneurs also need ways to raise funds. Our platform helps to bring alternative ways of funding using online technologies that appeal to the future generations.
What makes តោះFUND different to other online funding platforms?
There are other existing crowd-funding platforms but none that cater specifically for Cambodians in terms of payment systems. Many Cambodians do not use major credit card systems so the web brings other ways to contribute, such as using mobile phones with Cellcard, offline payment solutions with Wing and online payments with ACLEDA.
What kind of projects does តោះFUND hope to empower?
តោះFUND covers the three most popular crowd-funding sectors: Social causes, Films & Arts, and Startup ideas. We are launching with 16 amazing projects to start with but expect to get more a lot more project submissions soon!
Our platform is open to all ideas. It can be used by anyone that looks to promote good ideas that need funding. But to clarify, it is a donations and rewards platform – it is not a micro-finance platform nor a platform for companies looking for co-investors – we only take donations. We have a set of selection criteria that helps us to pinpoint and promote good projects. It can be large or small ideas at national or at a local level.
When do you think you’ll start to see a lot more activity on the site? Will you be able to soon attract a large crowd enough to fund the projects successfully?
We are launching at the end of this month. The launch will create a buzz and bring people to donate to the nice causes we showcase on the site. The advantage of a platform like ours is that it aggregates different crowds. Each of the campaigners has their own supporting ‘tribe’ or network. The combination of these social tribes should naturally create a synergy that brings traffic to the platform. We are also focusing on social media campaigns to rally support from socially connected crowds. We are also very exited to see what ideas people will come up with for the next range of projects.
One of the principles of fundraising is not to expect the money to fall from the sky but to actively seek support from all sides. Our campaigners know this and they worked hard before the launch to inform their own backers and their supporters so that they are ready to put their hands in their wallets – this support will be activated once we launch.
We don’t expect that all causes will manage to reach their goals as fundraising is very challenging. We nevertheless expect that there will be enough success stories to demonstrate to all audiences that there is scope for success if you work on a good campaign plan.
Do you expect the site’s projects’ potential earnings to be lower than other similar platforms’ potential funding due to the nature of the donation (mobile) and the fact that it is based in Cambodia?
The ‘Sweet Spot’ (the amount most people give) with major existing crowd-funding platforms is around 25usd – There are many reasons for this, such as for example that for 25usd, a campaigner can offer very nice rewards and still benefit from the donation. In Cambodia, we believe that the sweet spot will be lower. How much lower? We’ll soon find out…a wild guess would be aroud 5usd.
Can you envisage this method of funding projects (using mobiles) becoming a popular way to fund projects on other platforms too?
Yes, mobile is great because of the huge penetration in the country.
It has already been used successfully by some of our campaigners such as PSE or the KhmerSmartKeyboard. We foresee that with more and cheaper smart-phones, people will also use the internet more and more. We are trying to deploy all the payment technologies that are available in Cambodia for Cambodians.
Will តោះFUND always be exclusively for Cambodia or will it expand to other countries/languages if it goes well?
For the moment we focus only on Cambodia but it is fair to say that our experience can indeed be used in other countries: we faced and tackled the challenges that a crowd-funding platform needs to address and in that sense, we can help others. We are documenting the experience in case it can be used elsewhere or by others who want to establish a platform in their own country. We’ve already made some scoping missions in Nepal where we tried to help during the earthquake – there is a strong demand and we can see that they are facing many of the same issues as we have here.
A huge thank you to Cedric Jancloes for giving us a unique insight into Cambodia’s future in crowdfunding, and good luck for the launch of the platform!
Check out តោះFUND and browse through the 16 amazing projects already posted!
If you want to know more about crowdfunding as an alternative funding option for your organization, join us for Happy Hour talk on how to create a successful crowdfunding campaign on the 21st April 6:30pm, and learn how to make your campaign a success!