Introducing the SDG Capital Finder

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are more than a wish list for organizations, individuals, and companies to aspire to as they think about their development objectives. It is also an actionable framework around which stakeholders can build tools and projects.

Aiming to contribute to this framework, we are very excited to announce the launch of the SDG Capital Finder, the first publicly available, searchable database of 7,000 funders across the developing world, categorized by the SDGs!

The SDG Capital Finder, currently in BETA, is an extension of our previous Capital Finder. There are some major changes, so we wanted to take this opportunity to walk you through the differences and explain some of the functionality and added features. The best way to check out the updates is to use it — feel free to let us know what you think of the BETA version by emailing capital.finder@alliedcrowds.com.

Search Criteria

sdg parameters

We’ve made some minor stylistic changes here (country flags, icons for capital types, provider types, and SDGs), but also added new functionality.

Among the most significant additions is the ability to search funders by their alignment with the SDGs. We did this by creating custom ‘sectors’ for each goal.

Furthermore, we expanded the Provider Types — a major update in our database. Starting with Angel Investment Networks, Crowdfunding Platforms, Impact Investors, Public/Semi-Public funders, and Venture Capital firms, we also added Private Equity firms, Foundations, Banks, Microfinance Institutions, and Nonprofits.

We hope these two changes will help users find the funders that best fit their needs.

Search Results

sdg search results

We’ve significantly improved our matching methodology to enhance the results users get when they are searching for funders. We’ve implemented a new scoring mechanism that takes into account data points like location of social media followers, office location, domain name, and more. This is meant to filter the most relevant ones to the top of the results.

It’s a major improvement, and we’re looking forward to receiving feedback on the results from our users.

Funder Profiles

profile page

We are making the funders the stars of the database. Click on a result to see a funder’s profile and discover information we didn’t have publicly available before: mapped office location, currencies, languages, and much more.

One of the most powerful aspects of the profile page is the Goal analysis, which provides a keyword breakdown of how each funder fits within the SDG framework. This breakdown allows us to compare funders across the goals.

As an example, below is the breakdown for Water.org, a nonprofit that funds water projects across the globe. Not surprisingly, the vast majority of words on its site have something to do with water, sanitation, and hygiene.

waterorg_wheel

On the other hand, the breakdown below is for Golden Palm Investments, a Ghana-based VC firm that invests across multiple sectors:

goldenpalm_wheel

Additionally, we added other interesting data points. This includes a dynamic map that shows the likelihood of a capital provider to invest / fund a project in a given country, and a chart showing the breakdown of Facebook followers by country.

country probs

fb likes

We hope this data makes the SDG Capital Finder more fun to use, encouraging participation and promoting partnerships between capital providers and seekers.

To Sum Up

The SDG Capital Finder is an innovative, customizable tool to help organizations, companies, project managers, analysts, and others find funders categorized by the internationally-endorsed SDGs.

It’s a highly customizable and scalable tool, which can be modified to suit organizations’ needs. If you’d like to find out more about how the Capital Finder works, feel free to reach out to capital.finder@alliedcrowds.com.

Impact Investing in Africa: Insights from Latest Report

Impact investing in Africa is in these days, with numerous established firms and startups looking to figure out how to blend strong financial returns with a social or environmental impact.

Looking to add to the emerging literature on the topic, our latest in the series of Developing World Alternative Finance reports examined how impact investing in Africa has developed to date. The data for the report comes from the Capital Finder, which you can try out for free on our site.

The Findings

Our data revealed some interesting findings. One of the headline charts is simply the top ten countries for impact investing in Africa — as in, the countries with the most active investors.
impact investing in africa

Continue reading →

How to Create a Free VPN in 5 Minutes

Free VPN

The following was written by Malcolm Kapuza, CTO.

Visiting in Nairobi so far has been an incredible experience. AlliedCrowds works with lot organizations in Sub-Saharan Africa and to be able to experience different issues and pain points on the ground has allowed us to rework how the Capital Finder is structured (and we have some very big changes coming soon!).

Now, more to the point, we have a lot of subscribers in the expat community living in various developing countries across the world. I am sure that many of them have been forced to deal with a problem that I have had to deal with while in Nairobi: firewalls and IP address blocking.

There are a lot of cases where US and European websites will restrict access based on the IP address you are using. Yeah, this is a real problem.

Anytime you have ever been forced to pay for a VPN  from some sketchy company peddling proxy server access, you have faced this problem.

Now, I wouldn’t be writing this blog if it were about tricking Netflix into letting you watch House of Cards. I had a much bigger issue: accessing the Massachusetts Department of Revenue’s website. Yeah, the tax man. Normally, you can pay your taxes online, except that for fraud prevention purposes, Mass DOR blocks foreign IPs.

Saying I can’t pay my taxes because I am staying in Nairobi is akin to “the dog ate my homework” and probably not going to fly.

The solution

Introducing Amazon Web Services!

It is rare that I get to apply my tech knowledge outside of building tools and applications for the AlliedCrowds team and our clients. So I am especially excited to be able to give everyone a neat hack to solve a real problem in their everyday life by creating a free VPN. Continue reading →

UNLEASH 2017: Check Out AlliedCrowds’s Presentation

unleash 2017

We’ve had a very productive summer here at AlliedCrowds, travelling around the world, sharing our experiences and vision for the future, and building out the Capital Finder. One event in particular is worth discussing: UNLEASH 2017.

The UN-led symposium was meant to mimic a startup pitching competition — Shark Tank-style judging panel, and all. The overarching focus of the event was to highlight innovative startups looking to solve problems related to the SDGs, and to help these entrepreneurs get in front of potential funders.

Our founder and managing director, Lars Kroijer, was proud to deliver a keynote address to the entrepreneurs who came to present their ideas. He was speaking alongside people we’ve admired for quite some time, including Sal Khan (of Khan Academy), and Juliana Rotich (of Ushahidi and BRCK).

Lars was there to discuss the Capital Finder and give advice to the entrepreneurs in the audience — including gems like the below:

For those who weren’t able to make it to the conference, we’re sharing Lars’s presentation below. If you were there, let us know what your key takeaways were!

Presenting the Capital Finder:

Unleash Talk Aug 2017

Where in the World Is AlliedCrowds? Dispatch from Nairobi

alliedcrowds nairobi

The following was written by Anton Root, Head of Research.

One of the many of advantages of working for a startup like AlliedCrowds is the flexibility it affords. We make decisions quickly, aren’t intimidated by trying something new, and get to optimize our working arrangement.

So when our CTO Malcolm and I decided to spend a part of the summer working from Nairobi, the trip came together in a matter of days.

While I’m currently back in London, after spending a month in Nairobi, Malcolm has decided to stay an extra month to experience the city and build out our network. Looking back at a month filled with new experiences, exciting insights, and countless meetings, here are a few takeaways from our trip to Nairobi:

  1. The entrepreneurial culture is vibrant. The vast majority of people we encountered in Nairobi had very much a can do attitude, and were looking to do business. Indeed, many companies we met were looking to make it easier for others to do business. These included flexible and fast mobile lending platforms that helped vendors to purchase stock in the mornings, as well as startups that are helping small vendors simplify their value chain via mobile. But the can do attitude extended beyond startups and SMEs to everyday interactions. One example — I landed in Nairobi at 6am with no apartment lined up. Within hours, I had visited nearly a dozen apartments, and was able to sign a lease by 5:30pm. Compared with the process of moving to London (complete with tedious background and reference checks, and days or weeks of visiting flats), securing an apartment in Nairobi was a relative a breeze. Another example is an Uber driver who drove us 5 hours to the Masai Mara National Reserve in a car nowhere close to being equipped for off-road travel (which much of the trip ended up entailing).
  2. The alternative finance space still has plenty of room to grow. According to our database, there are nearly 250 alternative finance providers (angel investors, crowdfunding platforms, impact investors, VCs, private equity firms, and public/semi-public funders) operating in Kenya. Most of the existing players know each other well, however, and it’s a close-knit community. We were referred to the same investors by different stakeholders, and we often bumped into people we had met with outside of work. While there are constantly new investors from the region (and further afield) exploring the market, there are still plenty of opportunities for funders to enter the promising market.
  3. There’s a need for better resources to help entrepreneurs fundraise. While we met with several advisors in Nairobi that are doing important work for SMEs, there is a dearth of similar resources for smaller startups that may not have the intrinsic appeal of a tech firm. As Thomas Sankara writes, the vast majority of funding in East Africa goes to expatriate founders. A lot of that has to do with investors’ relative inexperience with working in the region, to be sure. But better training for African founders on how to pitch to foreign investors may help to close the funding gap. Additionally, with the ecosystem being as tight-knit as it is, figuring out who to contact in order to get a foot in the door is highly important — we think the Capital Finder can be a great help here.

As AlliedCrowds continues to grow, we’ll be taking the time to travel to new destinations. We’ll keep our followers updated on where we’re coming to next — don’t be shy and let us know if you’d like to meet!