Check out our curated Weekly RoundUP of the breaking and must-read news – crowdsourcing sea change; crowdfunding coming with a new guarantee; blockchain startup Antshares raising $4.5m through crowdsourcing and more …

Africans can leverage technology to raise more money if governments let them

Crowdfunding could be huge in Africa but regulatory laws need to catch up

“The absence of regulation limits the expansion of equity-based or debt-based crowdfunding platforms in Africa,” the report states. The lack of regulation likely deters more investors from pooling money in platforms “in which they have no basic investors’ protection rights and clear exit strategies,” the report says. The upside to fixing crowdfunding regulation in Africa will see access to finance, a pressing problem for businesses and entrepreneurs, democratized. There is some irony in the idea that regulators could support an innovative platform given local regulators in many African countries have been extremely conservative and typically used regulation to smother innovation and innovators.

California startup JetPack Aviation seeks £300,000 through equity crowdfunding on Seedrs for JB-10 JetPack 

California’s JetPack Aviation launched an equity crowdfunding campaign on Seedrs to raise £300,000 for the research and development of its JB-10 JetPack

“A lot of us spent time in our youth fantasising about what it would be like to follow Buck Rogers up into the air with our very own jetpacks. We are getting a lot closer to launching a commercial product but there is still much further that we can take our design and ideas, so we want to give the crowdfunding community a once in a lifetime opportunity to invest in turning a dream into reality.” “Flying to work with a jetpack strapped to your back may be everyone’s favourite science fiction fantasy alongside teleportation and personal space travel, but this is a serious scientific invention that could have huge implications for the aviation sector. This funding round is a chance for everyone to get on board with further development of the JB-10 and we are so excited to welcome David Mayman and JetPack Aviation onto Seedrs.”

Platform cooperatives like Stocksy have a purpose Uber and Airbnb never will

Here is Dan Pontefract’s article on how platform cooperatives are the real “sharing economy” companies

But there is a problem. These are not truly “sharing economy” companies. For the record, I’m with Harvard Business Review authors Giana M. Eckhardt and Fleura Bardhi who made a strong case against using the term “sharing economy” when it comes to firms like Uber and Airbnb. The authors suggested these sorts of businesses—where products and services are traded on the basis of access rather than ownership, when trade is done temporarily and not permanently—ought to be referred to as the “access economy.” “A successful business model in the access economy will not be based on community, however, as a sharing orientation does not accurately depict the benefits consumers hope to receive. When “sharing” is market-mediated — when a company is an intermediary between consumers who don’t know each other — it is no longer sharing at all. It is an economic exchange, and consumers are after utilitarian, rather than social, value.”

Chinese open source blockchain startup Antshares raises $4.5m through crowdsourcing

Chinese open source blockchain startup Antshares has raised more than $4.5 million in a crowdsourced fundraising

“Our vision is to make Onchain a truly universal Blockchain framework,” Antshares founder and Chief Executive Officer Da Hongfei said in a statement sent to SiliconANGLE. “Utilizing different plug-in modules, our framework could be applied for a public chain, a consortium chain or even a private chain. Our cross-chain adaptor module, currently under development, creates interoperability among these different chains.” Not only is Antshares interesting because it managed to raise $4.5 million through crowdsourcing, the company itself is also attempting to build a platform which venture capital-backed startups with their own proprietary versions of the blockchain are also attempting to do: build a blockchain-based financial transaction platform. Antshares claims to incorporate a number of firsts, including being the first open-source blockchain project developed in China; first significant Chinese initial crowd offering; and the first organic Chinese blockchain project to work with both Microsoft Azure and the Hyperledger Project.

Crowdsourcing sea change

With a $10 million gift from Marc and Lynne Benioff, UC Santa Barbara establishes the Benioff Ocean Initiative to study and solve ocean issues

“We cannot stand by and watch our oceans become increasingly sickened and fisheries decimated,” said Marc Benioff. “Just as we have research hospitals seeking cures for devastating illnesses, we need a hospital to heal our oceans. We can bring the brightest minds in marine science and our communities together and empower them to bring our oceans back to health.” “On behalf of UC Santa Barbara, I wish to express our deep appreciation for the truly inspiring and generous commitment by Marc and Lynne Benioff,” said Chancellor Henry T. Yang. “With this transformative gift, we are proud to establish the Benioff Ocean Initiative, which will enhance the ability of researchers and community stakeholders to address current problems in ocean health through applied environmental science. “Building the capacity of the university, including educating our students — future environmental leaders — to investigate and address these challenges in innovative and demonstrable ways is a vital step to strengthening sustainable environmental practices worldwide,” Yang added. “Through their gift, the Benioffs’ visionary leadership sets the stage for tremendous beneficial change.”

Courtesy of GoFundMe, crowdfunding now comes with a guarantee, of sorts

GoFundMe today announced that it is fighting back with a limited guarantee, ensuring that the money you drop in a collection bucket goes where you think it does

“GoFundMe wouldn’t exist without the empathy of our donors, and the GoFundMe Guarantee is about protecting their generosity with the industry’s first and only guarantee,” Rob Solomon, GoFundMe CEO said. “We want every donor to know that we have their back. It’s a big deal to give, and we want there to be complete peace of mind when you donate on our platform.” GoFundMe’s PR team is eager to point out that fraud is exceedingly rare, claiming that less than 0.1 percent of all campaigns awaken cause for concern. In its battle to win over the hearts and minds of the backers and the media, offering a guarantee will go a long way, but the guarantee is limited in a few important ways, which I believe weakens the company’s commitment to tidying up its image. “More than 99% of all GoFundMe donations are less than $1,000, protecting nearly every donor on the site,” says Bobby Whithorne, director of strategic communications at GoFundMe. “Additionally, it’s worth noting that the $25,000 guarantee for beneficiaries covers the vast majority of campaigns. We want to ensure folks get the help they need, which is why 25,000 is 15x the average campaign size.”


There are many fantastic stories out there. What else caught your eye this week? Did you come across some breaking news or a good thought piece? Please do share them with us…