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Crowdfunding future of youth

Luyanda Jafta is the co-owner of The People's Fund which believes in the merits of social capital. / Supplied
Luyanda Jafta is the co-owner of The People's Fund which believes in the merits of social capital. / Supplied

Luyanda Jafta believes he is working on changing the economic fortunes of the youth.

Jafta, 29, works at The People's Fund, an asset-backed crowdfunding platform, which assists small businesses to grow faster.

"Our war is economic, when you see FeesMustFall, when you see any student movement or any movement in the way society functions, black people [are] tired of being treated like second-rate citizens in corporate and things like that. It is because we do not own the economy," Jafta says.

The company facilitates the buying of assets by a group, then the entrepreneur who is being funded pays royalties from every product sold.

One of the beneficiaries of the scheme is a company called Native Nosi.

"We let the crowd buy the beehive for R1200 and then they earn R36 per kilo of honey for the next six years off that beehive," he explains.

Jafta claims that the fund has raised about R1.5-million from crowdfunding for 11 companies they have done campaigns for.

The fund has been operational for 11 months. It was started by three companies - Brownsense, The Hook Up Dinner and Paybook - who have been around for close to 15 years.

"We said 'how do we help black business grow'? We make it inclusive for everyone to be able to participate and make it beneficial for everyone to transform the country, and that is primarily what the People's Fund stands for.

"That you can do good, do transformative good and still benefit from it."

The 29-year-old assures that since the fund is asset backed, should the entrepreneur's business fail, they will be able to sell the crowd-funded assets so that the investors can recoup their losses.

"We work closely with one of the founders of Uprise Africa. They do equity crowdfunding and they are working really hard to get the industry regulated because the financial services board currently doesn't regulate crowdfunding with a return of any sort."

Jafta says the fund has an external auditor who audits all of the transactions that happen on its platform.

"We want people to have full comfort," he says.

All fund benefits are listed on its website. The investors are a mixed bag of people; a fair number are between the ages of 25 and 35.

Jafta found it surprising, however, that 60% of the investors are white, given that the fund is specifically positioned to help black business.

"It speaks to the idea that you know if we set up our systems right, we can all work together to transform this country. So, I think that was an important thing to see."

Entrepreneurs are put through a six-stage monitoring and vetting process. The Hook Up Dinner is the organisation that highlights entrepreneurs, then the fund moves in to offer asset funding.

Others come from Brownsense. The second way they get business people is via online marketing. They're then evaluated.

"We check that this business is sustainable first and foremost and, secondly, is it sustainable? And does it have margins to buy the actual assets it needs," Jafta says.

The entrepreneur is also put through a psychometric test and a socioeconomic impact and an operational evaluation, meaning has the business been operating for two years, has it made more than a R100000 in revenue in the past year? Is the business 51% black owned? Lastly, the fund does a campaign evaluation and the entrepreneur is also assessed on their problem-solving skills.

Jafta finds the new movement of' "social capital" exciting. "We can do things that we always look to government to fix. We can do it internally ourselves and, most importantly for us, make it self -sustaining.

"And that's why we do it on a return basis, with a royalty where we say 'look it's not a donation, you're going to get money back and you'll get more money than you put in, treat it like an investment'."

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