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Local Tech firm launches Ethiopia’s first crowd-funding platform

A local tech firm, BT Net Technology PLC, has launched the first-ever support platform for crowd-funding in Ethiopia. An online platform dubbed ‘Degafi’ is designed to enable individuals, charities and start-ups, publicly raise funds for their projects.

The platform completed all its trial sessions, and will officially begin running funding campaigns next week, according to Biniam Negessu, CEO at BT Net Technology and the developer of the platform.

“Anyone with ideas which could positively impact societies can run fundraisers by registering at our crowd funding website Degefi.com and start raising funds easily,” said Biniam.

“These days, the concept of crowd-funding has become familiar among Ethiopians. However, there are some limitations in placing the raised fund into the intended project, our company develops Degafi, customizing it to the Ethiopian context,” he told The Reporter, adding that before launching fundraising campaigns, individuals or organizations are required to fulfill all the legal requirements from the government. “They will also sign a compulsory agreement with us, to use the money only for the intended purpose.”

Learning from some crowd-funding frauds, Degafi will assign personnel who will closely follow the projects, to avoid crowd-funding abuses and misuse of money.

According to Biniam, the platform has also a plan to work with local non-profits, NGOs, and Universities, to raise funds for education, poverty reduction, health, agriculture, infrastructure, environment and nature protection in the near future.

In addition, donations of money to support the projects can be made via variety of means including Hello Cash, Amole, CBE Birr, M-Birr. Similarly, the platform also enables donors living abroad to support projects by sending money through banks using SWIFT codes. Furthermore, the company is also working to make the system more accessible to the diaspora community.

According to information provided by the company, it will charge three percent of the collected amount for maintaining and managing the site. In its pilot phase, Degafi has helped four projects to raise money including a campaign to provide food for people in need during the COVID-19 pandemic and each test projects collected between 10,000 to 15,000 birr within weeks.

Counting GoFundMe, the most familiar to Ethiopians, globally, people are using crowd-funding platforms like Kick Starter, Indiegogo, Causes and Patreon to raise money. In 2018, crowd-funding raised USD 12 Billion globally and the World Bank estimates that crowd-funding activities will raise USD 96 billion by 2025.

Contributed by Solomon Yimer