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More than $1 trillion in development related aid has gone to Africa over the past 50 years, and yet evidence shows that this money has in fact made the poor poorer.
Jumpstart Africa is raising money on Indiegogo to build a crowdfunding platform of its own that will feature African entrepreneurs who need money to get their projects off the ground.
“Real per-capita income is lower in Africa today than it was in the 1970s, and more than 50% of the population — over 350 million people — live on less than $1/day, a figure that has nearly doubled in two decades,” founder Ahmed Zrikem told VentureBeat. “This non-monitored assistance has encouraged corruption in Africa for decades. Our main goal is to help boost the African startup scene. We believe the only way forward for Africa is through technology.”
Crowdfunding has taken off over the past couple of years as a powerful way to raise money for projects of all kinds, whether they are creative, good causes, or to bring interesting tech to market.
Jumpstart Africa will use this technology to cut out the middleman of international development organizations and directly fund promising entrepreneurs. The basic idea is along the same lines of Kiva, but with crowdfunding instead of microloans.
The company also intends to provide ongoing support to participating entrepreneurs, including how-to guides, counseling, mentorship, and help with PR and marketing. Jumpstart has partnered with African incubators, accelerators, and entrepreneurial organizations to source candidates, and participating entrepreneurs must meet certain guidelines.
“We want those who come to our platform to feel confident that their contributions will get to where it belongs,” Zrikem said. “We aim to be fully transparent so all who contribute through our platform will always know exactly where their money goes – to the African entrepreneurs, startups, and small businesses it was meant for.”
Jumpstart is trying to raise $40,000 on Indiegogo. It is based in Marrakech, Morocco.
The site’s first projects will include drones for patrolling wildlife reserves, a solar cooking stove, and a teabag water filter.