Making crowd-funding a reality in Uganda through tech
At 23 years old, Angella Bukirwa is highly passionate about technology, women inclusion and fintechs. Doing a Bachelor of Science degree in software engineering at Makerere University in her fourth year and final semester, she is the product manager of Mpampe, a crowdfunding project. She is also a contributor at Crane Cloud Uganda, a Uganda-based hosting application; a research project at the university.
Bukirwa is part of a team of five and their innovation’s name is a Luganda word meaning, give me, and I give back. Born out of the need to participate in the HiPipo hackathon in 2021, the crowdfunding platform aims at creating a bridge between funders and beneficiaries.
“It started at a time when people were coming out of Covid-19 hence the need for financial contribution. However, funds were not easily accessible yet sometimes, available funds such as those from local government did not go the people that actually need them. Therefore, our aim is to ensure that we create a platform for people willing to help to channel funds directly to those that need them,” she says.
Bukirwa adds that they also noticed that there is no credible crowdfunding platform trusted by users in Uganda. They, thus, created a model that allows for accountability, transparency and integrity between the funder and the beneficiary.
“Most of the times, you see posters on various social media platforms for people that need funding but you are not sure if it is not a fraud. Therefore, the team always carries out a background validation of the person that needs money to ensure their story is credible. We have a sieving criterion in that if a campaign does not meet all the given requirements, it is left out,” she says.
They also ensure that with every step of the campaign, with every penny collected, they show the impact it has created to keep everyone engaged. That way, people do not get more than they stated because while it is not bad to get more, it is not fair, as that money would have helped someone else. So far, there is no target sector, hence it is open to helping anyone seeking financial assistance.
They had their first campaign at Makerere University where a colleague lacked school fees and it was almost exam time.
“He was frustrated because despite running several campaigns to raise money, he was not making much progress, only having Shs1.4m out of the needed Shs3.5m. Thankfully, within 48 hours of launching his campaign, the rest of the money was covered. We are grateful for the people that believe in us and hope to make this even bigger than it is,” she says.
Mpampe was the fifth runner up during the HiPipo hackathon and has continued to participate in several tech hackathons. For instance, during the MTN Momo hackathon, they were the first runner up. They also attended the Google solutions challenge where they were among the top 50 from more than 1,000 submissions.