2019 Round up

More Crowdfunding Success for FPEI in 2019

The first offering by FPEI, Malta’s popular online crowdfunding platform ZAAR, is celebrating several notable accomplishments that it achieved throughout 2019, proving once again that even small ideas can spell big success.

ZAAR by name, but anything but ‘zghar’ by nature – that has been the key to the ongoing success of Malta’s very own online donation/reward-based crowdfunding platform, and it made successful strides forward in 2019.

With its name derived from the Maltese word for ‘small’, ZAAR’s concept revolves around promoting even the smallest entrepreneurial ideas, causes or projects, to help them find the funding they need to get started, or to reach their goals. Likewise, the name reminds the many backers of each of these campaigns – members of the public who may donate anything from their small change to a major investment – that donating just a small amount can still make a huge difference.

As the first offering from the Foundation for the Promotion of Entrepreneurial Initiatives (FPEI), ZAAR has repeatedly exceeded all expectations since its launch. By making available to the local community such an accessible form of alternative finance, ZAAR has grown in popularity and success with each passing year – with 2019 being no exception, during which ZAAR raised more than €155,000.

The platform now generates more than a hundred leads and hosts an average of 30 crowdfunding campaigns per year, of which around six are business start-ups, while the remaining projects are community-based or originate from the creative sector. When compared to other donation/reward-based crowdfunding platforms
internationally, ZAAR’s ongoing achievements are even more impressive. While other reward-based platforms around the world tend to average only around a 53% success rate, in 2019 ZAAR registered an 85% success rate for campaigns launched on it that year, also topping its own 2018 figure of 82%. As ZAAR’s extraordinary annual success rate repeatedly eclipses that of its international counterparts, its reason for exceeding the rest by more than 30 per cent may be found somewhat closer to home: in its dedicated team. Combining  remarkable crowdfunding expertise and experience with high-end values and a unique understanding of the local character and culture, the team at ZAAR offers valuable advice and hands-on mentoring to each of the individual campaigns. This hyper-personal level of service and dedication – and its consistently excellent results – have now put Malta firmly on the world’s crowdfunding and alternative finance map and has become ZAAR’s signature secret of success.

ZAAR’s achievements, and the team’s formidable expertise in the crowdfunding arena, were also internationally recognised in other ways in 2019. The European Crowdfunding Network (ECN) reconfirmed ZAAR as a gold member, with membership awarded when a platform adheres to the Network’s code of conduct and transparency requirements. As a gold member of the ECN, ZAAR is well-placed to contribute to
crowdfunding-related policy debates, surveys, publications and events such as CrowdTuesday, an ECN initiative that encourages the European crowdfunding and alternative finance industry to engage in discussions and share best practices. Members of the ZAAR team also attended the ECN Conference, speaking as Malta’s
country representative both there and at the EU Commission’s expert work group for Alternative Finance and Fintech. Meanwhile, the EU Commission, Parliament and the Council agreed on the EU-wide licence for crowdfunding, and so ZAAR now joins the rest of the European crowdfunding community in awaiting the final text before implementing it in 2021.

As Malta’s only online donation/reward-based crowdfunding platform, in 2019 ZAAR also began exploring what the local demand may be in the future for other types of crowdfunding. In a survey carried out with more than a hundred investors and would-be investors, ZAAR studied the appetite for, and the existing knowledge regarding, investment-based crowdfunding and alternative finance. The valuable information and feedback garnered via this survey ZAAR now plans to use to inform the creation of a new investor club and investment-based platform. ZAAR’s ongoing success in promoting local entrepreneurs and their projects, and providing them with vital access to finance, is in keeping with the FPEI’s mission to support all forms of entrepreneurship in Malta, from high tech ventures to social enterprises.

Founded as a private not-for-profit foundation by the Malta Business Bureau and the University of Malta, the FPEI operates around the belief that entrepreneurial skills are essential for Malta’s economy to grow, and for local employment to be generated. Through its unique collaboration with local and international partners, the FPEI establishes new initiatives and provides the tools and resources required by local entrepreneurs in order to thrive.

While ZAAR was set up by the FPEI predominantly to address what it believes to be one of the key barriers to entrepreneurship – that of finding finance – the foundation also supports local entrepreneurs through other ventures. In October 2019, the FPEI successfully completed the European project, The Three Questions Model of Developing Social Entrepreneurs (T3QM). This online tool, aimed at newbie entrepreneurs or simply anyone with an idea, is intended to help them transform their idea into a sustainable, impactful and profitable business enterprise by answering the three key questions of what they are selling, to who, and for how much. While the T3QM project is mainly directed towards budding entrepreneurs, it also offers innovative materials that adult educators or mentors may use to offer high-quality business coaching to start-up founders.

Creating opportunities for budding entrepreneurs was also on the FPEI agenda in 2019. As an Erasmus+ project between the FPEI and another eight European partners from the Adult Education arena, the CORAL project – an acronym for ‘Creating OppoRtunities for Adult Learners’ – hopes to do exactly that. Through establishing the key skills and competences regularly utilised by self-employed entrepreneurs, the project aims to develop different training tools that will assist adults who are considering moving into self-employment or embarking on entrepreneurship. Through the focused, combined efforts of the FPEI in Malta, and by extension ZAAR, entrepreneurs in Malta can continue to access the expertise, training or funding they may need to turn their idea into a reality, and create a business enterprise that will ultimately help to drive Malta ever further into the future.