2017 Round up
2017 was a pivotal and successful year for the Foundation for the Promotion of Entrepreneurial Initiatives (FPEI) – a collaboration set up between the Malta Business Bureau (MBB) and the University of Malta. A collaboration that has even been recognised as a best practices case study by the European Commission.
FPEI’s main aim is that of promoting and supporting entrepreneurship. It encourages all forms of entrepreneurship, from high tech, high growth ventures to social enterprises. The Foundation aims to collaborate with other local and international partners to establish new initiatives and provide tools that will help promote entrepreneurship in Malta.
Launched in 2015, FPEI’s first project was the introduction of ZAAR (zaar.com.mt) – Malta’s first rewards-based crowdfunding platform. From the outset, ZAAR’s vision and the mission were to enable and facilitate innovation and great ideas, and to help them to achieve funding by providing a platform where these ideas can be showcases to the public and potential backers.
ZAAR set out to promote the use of crowdfunding as an alternative means of financing in Malta, where small businesses and organisations often struggle to achieve the financing they need through more traditional means.
The results have been very positive. In 2017, ZAAR received over 90 project leads, of which 24 translated into published projects on the platform. Among the projects that did go live, ZAAR managed to achieve a 90% funding success rate across the board – marking an increase of more than 30% when compared to 2016.
Also across the platform, ZAAR raised more than €85,000 with the support of more than 1,400 backers. These numbers were achieved in 12 Arts and Creative projects – which raised €22,351, 11 Community and Philanthropic projects – which raised €63,948, and one Educational project – which raised €1,400. Each of these projects met, and in some cases even exceeded their funding goals.
These successes underline the fact that 2017 was a growth year for ZAAR, especially in terms of resources. Among its growth of human resources, ZAAR took on a full-time Administration and Marketing Executive, as well as two interns, all of whom joined the organisation to help it achieve its goals and obtain the desired results.
2017 also saw ZAAR launch its long-awaited ZAAR Clinics, which take the form of crowdfunding information sessions that give potential campaigns the chance to network with like-minded individuals and to better understand how to run a successful campaign. To further facilitate its educational role, ZAAR also launched its Crowdfunding Guidebook – a complete, full-colour guide that takes potential campaigners through a timeline for their project, with the help of to-do lists and crowdfunding toolkits.
ZAAR also engaged other tools to reach out, both to potential campaigners and prospective backers. It launched a specific LinkedIn Group on crowdfunding (Crowdfunding Malta) to facilitate discussions on the subject and raise awareness. Two monthly newsletters also became part of the ZAAR calendar – one which shares news and updates on ZAAR campaigns, and the other that provides the latest news from the world of crowdfunding in general. This initiative has been particularly successful and has registered a positive increase in the number of subscribers. On top of that, ZAAR also contributes a monthly post to its own blog on crowdfunding issues and embarks on on-going PR initiatives to keep the topic of crowdfunding in the public eye. As a result, the team at ZAAR was frequently invited to speak as experts on a variety of related topics, including Crowdfunding, Alternative Finance and Entrepreneurship, both on a national and international level.
Beyond all of this, ZAAR also marked 2017 with a number of important initiatives. The organisation partnered with the CORE platform for the Social Impact Awards and created the first match-funding mechanism of €3,000; similar partnerships are planned for the future. Also in 2017, ZAAR manager Matthew Caruana was chosen as one of the 20 mentors on the ECN and the University of Bicocca in Milan for their Masters Programme in Entrepreneurship. Similarly, ZAAR team members were also asked to form the judging panels for various start-up programmes, including Global Entrepreneurship Week.
A number of collaborations were also integral in the last year. Both the MEIB and ACM continue to be funding partners of ZAAR, while Grant Thornton has provided assistance and advice to potential start-ups interested in trying out crowdfunding, and CreditInfo Malta has provided ZAAR with due diligence and credit checks on project owners. Meanwhile, ZAAR continued to work with the MFSA to lobby for investment-based crowdfunding to be introduced in Malta – a process that has now entered its final stages.
Now, ZAAR is looking firmly into the future with a number of key projects already lined up for 2018. To begin with, the organisation will launch a Marketing Research Exercise to assess the knowledge and aptitude that people have for crowdfunding in Malta. The launch of the new ZAAR crowdfunding platform is also planned, as well as the launch of an investment-based crowdfunding service and several other ancillary services. On top of that, ZAAR will also be sourcing for potential partners for collaboration and assistance.
In 2017 FPEI also started its second initiative through a project funded by the Erasmus+ programme together with five European partners named as The Three Questions Model of Developing Social Entrepreneurs (T3QM). This is an innovative methodology proven to create jobs and develop social entrepreneurial skills (both soft and hard skills). FPEI will be organising an informative event to spearhead the project on 23 March 2018 titled “Making Entrepreneurship more accessible”. The T3QM info session will be followed by interesting discussions with different speakers on how starting a business can be made more accessible and less daunting.
It is with this, and more, in mind that the FPEI will be launching its own website (fpei.mt) in the coming weeks, and it will shortly expand into other exciting initiatives.