A couple of days ago, Blitz Bazawule, a Ghanaian award-winning filmmaker and musician, managed to raise more than $75,000 on Kickstarter for his campaign to produce and market his movie, the Burial of Kojo.
His campaign had raised $50,000 and had 10 days to go before it hit the $75,000 goal.
I’ll admit, I was sceptical that it would succeed. But with 33 hours before the deadline for funding, the project hit it its goal and is at $76,000+.
That got me thinking: Can Tech Startups in Ghana look to crowdfunding campaigns like Kickstarter to raise funds for their own projects?
If we’re being fair, the “Burial Of Kojo” kickstarter campaign managed to reach its goal largely thanks to social media. In the Ghanaian creative industry, there seems to be more comradery and cohesion when it comes to supporting each other instead of people reaching into their pockets and helping out. The creative industry in Ghana is not as structured but there tends to more support and collaboration.
In the tech space, there is a bit more structure but is the same support in the creative industry the same for the tech industry?
Funding (Or Lack ThereOf) In Ghana
Tech Nova contributor Chris asked why some of Ghana’s elite are not funding tech startups in Ghana, which is an interesting question. There could be several reasons why there is a lack of funding for local startups in Ghana including lack of education of funding tech startups in Ghana, lack of visibility from startups in Ghana as well as startup founders not doing very well with their data and numbers.
But if some of these startups are legit and could really succeed with funding, what’s the chance of people helping to crowdfund these companies?
I don’t know Blitz Bazawule and haven’t seen much of his work but I did empathise with him as far as trying to raise funds for his work. Like I said, Ghana’s creative industry, especially its movie industry is in flux. If Blitz’s project was in a country like the US, he probably would have gone to different movie studios and try to pitch his movie for funding. But in Ghana, where would he go? Who or what production studio would give him $75,000?
The same can be asked for Ghanaian tech startups. Where can they go for funding? Where are the investors to talk to?
Engineers Without Borders Canada (EWB) recently invested in Ghanaian fintech startup, Bloom Impact to help it scale up its operations and give more people access to financial services.
All these companies managed to raise funds OUTSIDE Ghana. The only company which has raised funds locally is Logique who raised $4.8 million, which will now stand out as an outlier? So can tech startups raise money locally or should we just forget that conversation altogether?
Is Crowdfunding Really The Answer?
Blitz Bazawule’s project is a great victory for crowdfunding for local projects. But is it a one-off success? I’ve already asked the question about whether crowdfunding works in Ghana. There are some examples of success but not on a large scale like this. The Burial of Kojo is so far, the biggest crowdfunded campaign I’ve seen for a Ghanaian project. But then again, who knows how many of these backers came from Ghana? Does it matter at all?
There’s this debate about funding for startups in Ghana and whether or not tech startups need to look beyond the shores of Ghana if they need crucial funding. If small startups can’t get local investors, should they start to look to platforms like Kickstarter, Indiegogo and local platforms like Fundraising Africa for help?
Maybe more local crowdfunding platforms need to pop up and be visible for these local startups to take advantage of the crowdfunding phenomenon.
You never know. Maybe if a local GH startup gave me 1% share if I contributed a certain amount, and they hit it big down the line by being bought by a big company, that’s a good enough incentive for me to invest.
Congrats to Blitz Bazawule on his successful Kickstarter campaign.