Start-up crowdfunding app taps into spirit of Ubuntu

Read time 3min 10sec
Jason Ncube, entrepreneur, software developer and creator of the Ubuntu start-up fund.
Jason Ncube, entrepreneur, software developer and creator of the Ubuntu start-up fund.

In an environment where half of start-ups fail in the first five years of existence, entrepreneur and software developer Jason Ncube has createdan app-based platform to provide the building blocks for success.

The Ubuntu start-up fund, currently live in beta phase, is a crowdfunding mobile app designed for aspiring entrepreneurs and small business owners who wish to start or grow their entrepreneurial ventures.

It attempts to solve some of the challenges entrepreneurs encounter, such as access to business cheerleaders, mentorship and micro-funding, as well as ensuring accountability, says Ncube.

He points out that as an entrepreneur for the past 12 years and having founded two failed start-ups in that period, he is a true statistic of start-ups that don’t make it past the first five years.

“As entrepreneur and small business owners, our biggest challenge is accountability and mentorship before finance. Ubuntu does not only help founders with micro-finance between R1 000 to R30 000, it also offers your supporters a chance to be a part of your company as a sort of advisory board and mentors, whom you would have to be accountable to.”

Ncube says a founder uses the app to create a project and raise the amount needed for that particular project, which could be to buy new equipment, start a marketing campaign, or to formalise the business, etc.

“As a founder, you receive priceless insight and counselling from people who want you to succeed, and some have experience in the industry you operate in.”

For those looking to offer entrepreneurs and specific projects support, they find a project that resonates with them – something along their profession, an industry they wish to learn more about, or a field they are very knowledgeable in.

“You can donate anything from R50 towards that project and this allows you access to the founders and a private network of other supporters. Here the founder will be accountable to you on how the finances raised were spent.

“If the founder fails to honour his responsibility, you and other supporters will vote to prohibit the founder from making it to another funding round and they get their account suspend. If they deliver, you up-vote them and they go for another funding round.”

In 2019, the failure rate of start-ups was around 90%, according to Investopedia. Research further shows that 21.5% of start-ups fail in the first year, 30% in the second year, 50% in the fifth year, and 70% in their 10th year.

Business owners list money running out, the wrong market, lack of research, bad partnerships, ineffective marketing and not being an expert in the industry among the reasons for failure.

Ncube says two weeks after its 8 October launch, the app successfully raised funds for three small projects, reaching a total of R8 000. “This is not bad considering most people offered a minimum of R50 to support a project, and we currently have over 30 registered projects on the platform and over 150 registered users.”

Commenting on future objectives for the app, he says: “We wish to offer entrepreneurs a community they can turn to for help, as well as to offer help while building a more coordinated ecosystem for fledgling businesses with access to free information, data, partners and resources.”

Ubuntu is available for download from the Apple AppStore, Google PlayStore and the Huawei AppGallery.

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