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Interested in funding handmade “bambike” bamboo bicycles, or supporting scholarships for children from economically disadvantaged families? These were two of the five projects Justin Garrido chose to feature in the beta version of his crowdfunding platform targeting social schemes in the Philippines.
Mr Garrido co-founded the crowdfunding website Social Project PH in 2012 with his Melbourne Business School MBA classmate, Julia Sevilla. He wanted to raise funds and offer marketing and brand management services to social enterprises in the region.
The co-founders had a slow start with website difficulties and a typhoon causing disruption. A year on, however, they are implementing the business plan that won the Melbourne University Entrepreneurs’ Challenge in 2012.
Of the five projects on the beta launch in May 2013, two secured funding for some of the milestones stipulated on the start-up’s website.
The Ayala Foundation, which provides scholarships for underprivileged youth, raised more than $2,400 which allowed it to send four children to school. And the Solar Energy Foundation raised more than $1,200 so that it was able to sell discounted solar lanterns to a rural community an hour from Manila where residents have no mains electricity supply.
Social Project Ph, received 5 per cent of the profits raised by these two projects. As for the other three projects, which failed to secure funding – including the bambikes – Mr Garrido is pragmatic, taking lessons from the experience.
“Their milestones may have been too high and/or they weren’t as strong in social media marketing,” he says. “I also think although we had interesting projects for the pilot, five may have been a lot to start with.”
Social Project PH is now developing partnerships with an ecommerce website that features social enterprises in the Philippines and online media groups to gain more exposure. Mr Garrido is also planning to tie in with offline fundraising events.
“One insight we learnt is that many [fundraisers] for causes in the Philippines typically occur in offline events such as concerts, runs and black-tie dinners,” he explains.
Developing an online presence and online tools is another primary objective for Mr Garrido. “One key to a successful crowdfunding campaign is strong social media marketing as well as a strong story, something non-profits are typically weaker at, so we are exploring a student social good ambassador programme [that will connect] college students to our project partners [to help with social media marketing],” he says. In return, the students will receive mentorship opportunities.