Acquiring the necessary funding to start a business is a common issue for many entrepreneurs. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the Middle East, which has lacked dedicated startup resources for many years. During this time, entrepreneurs had to rely on their own funds, as well as the resources of their families, in order to open their own businesses. However, the recent introduction of crowdfunding has greatly minimized these types of monetary challenges.
Through crowdfunding, Middle Eastern entrepreneurs have more opportunities than ever to access the funding they need, whether it’s through online users who want to support their work or networks of investors. For individuals seeking to provide donor equity to those who operate solely on donations, there are countless funding sites available to them. Read on to learn more about five of the best crowdfunding sites for entrepreneurs in the Middle East:
In 2013, Eureeca became the first platform to directly focus its work on the realm of global equity crowdfunding. Based in the United Arab Emirates, the firm assists entrepreneurs in nearly 40 countries. Through Eureeca, private investors of varied backgrounds have the opportunity to purchase share-based equity in growing businesses. This is a particularly beneficial form of crowdfunding for entrepreneurs, who can use the site to generate funding and awareness among local investors in their target markets. Anyone may submit a proposal for funding on Eureeca and immediately access a network of more than 12,000 potential investors. For its innovative services, the company earned the third spot atop the Forbes list of the Top 50 UAE Startups to Watch in 2016.
Since its inception in 2012, Zoomaal has brought a more traditional crowdfunding experience to the Middle East. Unlike other similar platforms that provide benefits to investors, this site entirely revolves around donations. Both entrepreneurs and other creative individuals can use Zoomaal to raise funding for projects in categories ranging from software to fashion. Whether they are looking to develop a new and innovative product or simply launch their own startup, they can set a monetary goal that others in the online community can support. Entrepreneurs must reach this target amount in order to receive any of this funding, and they can use Zoomaal’s features to keep backers updated and generate even more support along the way.
A group of seven entrepreneurs came together to establish the crowdfunding website Shekra in 2012. Ever since, the company has catered to startups in Egypt, providing all the avenues through which budding entrepreneurs can gain crucial business capital. Shekra has cultivated an exclusive network of investors, all of whom have the opportunity to donate to projects and startups that are looking for funding.
Entrepreneurs can begin by setting up monetary goals for everything from early- to late-stage funding. Using social media, the firm then generates widespread campaign awareness among its followers by providing up-to-date project outlines and funding totals. Those in the Shekra network can also interact with the entrepreneurs themselves before making the decision to support their work.
Outside of its crowdfunding capabilities, Shekra provides a number of business development services to entrepreneurs. With the company’s help, these individuals can create better business plans, access sales pitch tips, and navigate the often-difficult legal aspects of working with investors.
Beehive is perhaps the most unique of all the crowdfunding platforms in the Middle East region. Operating out of Dubai, this site became the first of its kind to facilitate peer-to-peer funding activities between investors and business owners. Rather than having to go through a bank for financing, entrepreneurs can use Beehive to access lending opportunities. The system facilitates professional relationships that benefits both entities by providing a source of low-cost financing for the business owner and potentially higher monetary returns for the financier.
Individuals looking to expand their businesses may submit a funding proposal to Beehive, which then reviews and publishes it in the form of an online listing. Over the course of two weeks, potential investors can then make loan bids on their favorite companies. Entrepreneurs are able to choose the most competitive of all these bids and use the financing to scale their businesses. In return, they allot profits to their investors each month to repay them for the original loans. Thus, Beehive mitigates the risk of investing in new and growing businesses. Since initiating its crowdfunding services, Beehive has amassed a network of over 3,500 investors and 100 businesses.
Based in Jordan, Afkarmena helps to support the most innovative and creative ideas of entrepreneurs living across the entire Middle East and North African region. The site makes it easy to gain all the necessary funding without the need to take on investor stakeholders. Like many other popular crowdfunding firms, Afkarmena raises money online to support emerging businesses and other projects. Through the site, individuals can peruse a list of different projects and pledge their own money to support one or several initiatives. The entrepreneurs offer rewards to their contributors, which provide a reason to support their startups or ventures without the need to take on co-owners.