The crowdfunding platform Wegenfund which was initially launched to support charities, religious organizations, and individuals with medical emergencies has now expanded its services to include startups and businesses.
Developed by Wegen Technology Solutions, a technology firm based in Addis Ababa, in collaboration with the Bank of Abyssinia, Wegen extended its services to support entrepreneurs and small businesses after recognizing the challenge of securing finance faced by early-stage startups.
The launch of Wegenfund for businesses was officially announced at a virtual event held on March 9, 2023. Co-founder and Director, Dr. Belachew Chekene Tesfa, explained that Wegenfund currently implements two of the four major models of startup crowdfunding, namely the donation-like and rewards models. He added that the platform plans to incorporate debt and equity crowdfunding in the future.
The event also featured panelists who shared their experiences with crowdfunding. Nael Hailemariam, CEO and Co-Founder at Chapa Financial Technologies Share Co., which is also one of the payment partners of Wegenfund, explained the benefits of crowdfunding, including validating an idea, creating a community, and reducing risk.
Crowdfunding campaigns are becoming popular and impactful in Ethiopia, and they mostly rely on donations from the huge number of Ethiopians in the diaspora.
A very recent GoFundMe campaign backed by Ethiopian comedian Eshetu Melese has led to more than $1.6 million being raised within 48 hours for Macedonia Charity’s plans to finish its 12-story nursing home facility for homeless people in the country.
The comedian also used Wegenfund to raise funds locally, and as of March 10, 2023, close to one million birr had been raised on the platform for Macedonia.
Launched in December 2021, Wegenfund is open to all charities and businesses legally operating in Ethiopia and enables charities and others to raise funds locally and internationally. The platform was created to address the unavailability of international financial payment systems and online fundraising platforms in Ethiopia, which made it difficult for charities, NGOs, and individuals to access and use these resources easily.
The platform hopes to support Ethiopia’s development through technology transfer, legal foreign currency transactions, and play a role in controlling illegal and fraudulent fundraising on the streets.
Wegenfund has so far been used for various causes, such as raising support for war-affected areas, droughts in the Somalia region, charities working with elders’ associations, orphans, food banks, and individual medical causes.