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 tale.
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.