Local crowdfunding platform helps scale up businesses
Every business begins with a need or an idea. And to turn the idea into an actual project, funding is needed.
Unfortunately, it is not always easy to come by.
To help budding entrepreneurs get the funding they need, as well as support from an encouraging community, Patrick Dulay established local crowdfunding platform The Spark Project in 2013.
“We want to engage the entrepreneurs not just through crowdfunding but also the step before and after that,” Dulay explained. “Crowdfunding goes beyond raising funds. There are a lot of nontangibles or nonmonetary benefits that you can get through crowdfunding. It allows you to build a community, validate your business idea, reach more people and be discovered. That’s why entrepreneurs see this (The Spark Project) as a viable tool for them to use to get started.”
What separates The Spark Project from American crowdfunding website Kickstarter, which it was modeled after, is it tries to build a community of changemakers aside from generate capital.
“We want to continue engaging businesses so we continue to look for opportunities for them,” he said.
The Spark Project also does not limit itself to funding technopreneurs as it “believes in the talent of Filipinos in all aspects. It could be in business, arts, culture, environment, even in different industries like food, arts, music, film, fashion design. We want to promote Filipino creativity and innovation and discover the ‘next world-class’ brand because we believe that we can do it. Filipinos have the capacity to create great things.”
Dulay said the website had so far been able to engage 55 projects and gather P5.5 million in funding.
Aside from social entrepreneurs, the platform is also open to artists, filmmakers, musicians and authors.
One of its first—and highest-grossing—projects is Kawil Tours, a social tourism enterprise in Culion, Palawan.
The founders of Kawil Tours needed a tour boat to scale up social tourism in the area. But the stigma of Culion as a former leper colony hampered the industry.
They fortunately turned to The Spark Project and was able to raise P368,000.
The ability to generate ample support for budding entrepreneurs is one of the reasons The Spark Project earned a slot in this year’s BPI Sinag program, a competition and bootcamp that taps mostly social enterprises.
On its third year, BPI Sinag focuses on moving into building a social enterprise ecosystem and help social enterprises scale up their reach.
“We’re really interested in The Spark Project and what we saw in it was what BPI Sinag stands for,” said Cara Funk, communications and project officer, BPI Foundation. “We want to spark and accelerate social enterprises so they can make more impact in the communities they choose to help in.”
Dulay acknowledged that while crowdfunding was a simple way to raise funds, “it is not (a form of) magic that can get you a million pesos just by posting your campaign online. This requires hard work, a lot of legwork, preparation and tapping into your network,” he said. —CONTRIBUTED
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