Alternative Finance Data for Emerging Markets: Building the Capital Finder (Part II)

The following was written by CTO Malcolm Kapuza, who explains how alternative finance data in the Capital Finder is collected, how funders are categorized, and how we use natural language processing and machine learning to enhance our database.

As I mentioned in the first part of this three part series, the Capital Finder has many useful applications. In this second part, I go into detail about where we source our different alternative finance data points and how we turn this data into one coherent and intuitive view of developing world alternative finance.

This is a semi-technical explanation to show what’s “under the hood,” and to demonstrate what we do at AlliedCrowds that is so different from other organizations in this space.

Sourcing and maintaining the data

The key to a product like the Capital Finder is having the most current and accurate data in the industry. There are a couple of ways that we stay on top of this to ensure that our clients are able make strategic decisions and inform research based on the best available data out there.

Firstly, we have a team of multilingual analysts, spread throughout the developing world. Local knowledge is crucial in the sourcing process, as it minimizes language barriers and unforeseen geographic constraints. Our analysts have deep understanding of the alternative finance space, meaning finding new capital providers is relatively easy.

Secondly, we have developed deep industry connections through our time analyzing and researching this space, which means that we are one of the first to know when a new funder opens up, or an existing one expands into one of our target geographies. .

Finally, we are constantly pushing the envelope when it comes to innovating with technology solutions at AlliedCrowds. Therefore, we have developed programmatic processes that flag new capital providers that emerge and alert us when certain information in our database has gone stale.

Finding suitability

The quality and accuracy of our alternative finance data is only one aspect of what we do. The other is our ability to pair relevant projects with capital providers, as well as categorize capital providers based on continually changing criteria.

Given the sheer size of our data and the relative small size of our team, we depend on cutting edge technologies to make this possible. I will outline 3 use cases to give some idea of why this works so well and how we’re able to do it with minimal resources.

Alternative finance data collection

AlliedCrowds has streamlined and continues to improve our data collection process. Our main focus is to increase automation, while also improving accuracy and data integrity.

We gather text from thousands of websites and millions of web pages, creating a data warehouse of text. Recent developments in Natural Language Processing (NLP) have allowed us to rapidly and continuously improve our view of the space, because it takes only moments to process all of this text rather than months to revisit every website individually. This means that our insights are faster, more accurate and more scalable than if this analysis were completed manually.

africa impact investing

An example of the sort of data we can showcase using the Capital Finder.

Additionally, we source data from 3rd party APIs in order to get a more complete and accurate view of each capital provider. These sources are invaluable, each giving us unique and actionable data, and each working as a trusted check and balance to allow us to spot anomalies. These include social media platforms, news agencies, development institutions, public records, etc.

We crowdsource information that we cannot collect programmatically and which would be prohibitively expensive to collect through analysts. We have used technology to create straightforward ways for providers from our database to deliver us valuable information. This streamlined process is simple and incentivized with increased visibility on the Capital Finder and inbound traffic, which has lead to high engagement.

Intelligent Categorization      

As our technology advances, we have begun to reduce the workload of our analyst team. For instance, analysts do not fill in country- and sector-level information, because we have found our algorithms to be more accurate, faster, and more cost efficient than their user input input. This reduces human error in our data and allows us to scale massively.

Through this process, we are close to eliminating much of the decision-making from our analyst roles. The goal is for every entry to be fact based and subsequently fact-checked, which eliminates the need for timely and costly training and removes ambiguity from the data collection processes.This also ensures scalability and consistency throughout the system, as well as a much lower maintenance costs, as we eliminate dependence on any given analyst’s specific skill set or expertise. The system channels most of the decision-making and reasoning to the highest level and therefore allows the Capital Finder to be managed centrally. Anything that an analyst does to improve the system gets spread throughout all 138 countries, as well as all sectors and provider types.

Bespoke matching

The advances have allowed us to create a distinctly effective matching system. With our data pool, we are able to comb through millions of web pages to target specific keywords and phrases on these sites and since we track social followings, recent trends, public filing information, and unique provider statistics, we are able to gauge the suitability of a certain project to each provider.

The goal of our matching algorithm is much like that of Google’s Pagerank algorithm. When you use Google to query a phrase, Google returns not only every website that is relevant to your search, but orders them based on which it has determined will be most relevant. Since this algorithm is so effective, you rarely look beyond the first or second search result. We are making it so that finding a capital provider is just as easy.

Stay tuned for the next post where I discuss in more technical detail the nuances of what makes the Capital Finder so effective.

Alternative Finance Data for Emerging Markets: Explaining the Capital Finder

The following was written by CTO Malcolm Kapuza, who explains how the Capital Finder can be used to find suitable funders for your business, and how it provides rich alternative finance data.

One of our flagship products at AlliedCrowds is the Capital Finder, which has a lot going on under the hood. I decided to write a three part blog series to help our readers better understand what we are up to and why it is important. This is Part I.

I will take readers from a very high level view of what we are using this data to accomplish in this first part. I will then explain in more detail how the data is gathered and processed in Part II. Finally, in Part III, I will go all the way down into some of the code used to make it all happen.

What is the Capital Finder?

The Capital Finder is a proprietary database that contains over 7,000 alternative capital providers across the developing world (ex-China).

The Capital Finder contains all of the sources of capital available to projects in a given country. This includes:

  • venture capital and private equity firms.
  • angel investor networks,
  • impact investors,
  • crowdfunding platforms,
  • accelerators,
  • foundations,
  • development banks,
  • international organizations,
  • retail banks and more.

Essentially, it is an exhaustive list of where you can raise money in each country.

Furthermore, this data is highly searchable and customizable, and contains a lot detailed information about each capital provider. We will get into this below.

What are some common use cases?

We categorize the uses for the capital finder two broad functionalities: the Searchable Directory, and the Data Platform.

Searchable Directory

The Searchable Directory is the entrepreneur-facing side of the Capital Finder. It is meant for projects, firms, organizations, and entrepreneurs who are looking to identify the firm that is most likely to provide them with funding. We manage to do this on a global scale, finding the handful of suitable funders out of thousands that are potentially relevant.


The Capital Finder is the ideal capital sourcing tool and it will produce an effective shortlist for you to get started. But what if you don’t have your pitch down? This is why we created the Entrepreneur Hub. The Capital Finder tells you who to contact, while the Entrepreneur Hub explains how to approach them.


The Capital Finder on AlliedCrowds.com is a simple free version with the basic functionality to allow project leaders and developing world entrepreneurs to get started. We offer additional services for paid clients; these include:

  • keyword/phrase searching: we comb thousands of websites and millions of web pages in order to discover which capital providers have mentioned which key phrases; this enables us to narrow down your search
  • business plan matching: we use natural language processing to analyze text provided in a business plan or project write up, and use machine learning to match projects to the most suitable funders around the world
  • additional data points: lots of value lies in the financial and deal data that we have acquired for a growing number of capital providers

Regardless, we think the free version is plenty for an individual. Often, we find that users do not need to search past the first or second page to find compatible funders (much like you don’t search past the first or second page of Google to answer your question). However, we recommend organizations looking to provide solutions at scale to get in touch.

You can find public examples of the Searchable directory at use in the AlliedCrowds Capital Finder,  SDG Capital Finder or the WGEO Capital Finder.

Data Platform

The Data Platform is linked to the entrepreneur-facing product in that they share the same database. They are, however, different in how each product uses the data.

The most straightforward use case for the Data Platform is on display in the alternative finance data we feature our reports. These reports are generated almost entirely automatically via the Data Platform. Generally speaking, we use the Data Platform to facilitate research, consulting and advisory, and, of course, alternative finance data analysis.

As an example, consider an organization that would like to investigate how many Kenyan alternative finance providers fund agriculture products, and how this compares to its neighbors. The Data Platform can show how Kenya compares to other East African countries on a per % land area basis, informing decisions on which country is performing better on a relative — rather than simply an absolute — basis.

alternative finance data

Alternative capital providers funding agriculture vs. agricultural land across Africa, focusing on East Africa

The scalability of the database allows AlliedCrowds to not only make country-level comparison (e.g., Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, and Kenya), but to also create entire indices (e.g., country rankings across the developing world). This gives us the ability to landscape the entire developing world based on a given sector (e.g., agriculture) and/or funding type (e.g., venture capital). Based on this analysis, we can see which countries are overachieving relative to their peers, and begin to explore why. Ultimately, this analysis can help us to come up with policy recommendations that result in more money flowing to projects and MSMEs in developing countries, leading to job growth and economic expansion on a macro level.

See the following reports for some examples of how our data has been used for clients in the past: Financial Sector Deepening Africa, UNDP Indonesia, and World Bank and feel free to contact us in order to find out more about how AlliedCrowds can provide custom reports and indices for your organization!

Kapuza’s second post in this series discusses how the alternative finance data in the Capital Finder is sourced and categorized. You can read that post here

Find Capital, Get Fundraising Advice, and More: Relaunch of Our Website

capital finder, entrepreneur hub, alternative finance reports

Technology has the potential to revolutionize the development sector — and we’re relaunching our website to show how this can be done. Our new site features an improved Capital Finder, Entrepreneur Hub, and Reports on alternative finance.

It’s been a long time since we’ve updated our site. AlliedCrowds.com has moved from: a crowdfunding project aggregator, to a live dashboard providing unique insight on crowdfunding in emerging markets, to an early version of the Capital Finder alternative finance database, to a Capital Finder-centric platform. Today, we’re relaunching our site to combine the best aspects of the previous versions, and to highlight how technology can innovate the development sector.

The new site, which launched earlier today, is the best iteration yet. Here’s why:

Updated Capital Finder

The Capital Finder is a unique database of 7,000 alternative capital providers across emerging markets. We’ve worked hard to make it the go-to place for: entrepreneurs looking for investors, development organizations looking for partners, and analysts looking for original data. The database has also been instrumental in compiling unique datasets and analysis for our reports and consulting engagements.

Today, we’re announcing the addition of new funder types to the Capital Finder, as well as a complete re-categorization of each funder on the platform. In addition to angel investor networks, crowdfunding platforms, impact investors, public / semi-public funders, and venture capital firms, we’ve added the following five types of funders:

  • Banks
  • Foundations
  • Microfinance institutions
  • Nonprofits
  • Private equity firms
  • More new categories will be added soon

The new, refined categories mean more accurate results. It’s a significant upgrade with a lot going on behind the scenes that will make the Capital Finder even more useful to entrepreneurs, development organizations, analysts, alternative capital providers, and many more.

We’ve also added profiles for each of the funders in our database:

impact investor renewable africa

Interactive Entrepreneur Hub

Knowing who to reach out to for funding is critically important. But where do you go from there?

We have given entrepreneurs information that helps them better understand the fundraising process. The Capital Finder has always been an effective tool that helps entrepreneurs answer the questions of who to fundraise from. Our Entrepreneur Hub is a natural extension of this, as it helps the answer the question of how to fundraise.

This means providing entrepreneurs with templates of documents they need to present to investors, tips from entrepreneurs who have been in their shoes in the past, explainer videos for key concepts, descriptions of capital types (grant, debt, equity) and funder types (VC, impact investor, etc.), and much more.

The new Hub makes this information more readily-available, and gives entrepreneurs the ability to focus on the aspects they need help with most.

business plan template

Blockchain and Cryptocurrency

Over the last year, we have paid close attention to blockchain and cryptocurrency developments.

We’ve always recognized the disruptive potential, and we recently made the decision to play an active role in this space. We’ve already built tools that allow us to track cryptocurrency prices in a new way, and we’re gathering insights on how that data can be used to further our mission of innovating development.

Based on our research and data, we have engaged with blockchain in the following areas:

  • Governance
  • Finance
  • Contracts
  • Corruption
  • Entertainment
  • Social media

Find out more about our blockchain services here.

More to Come!

It’s an exciting time at AlliedCrowds as we continue to roll out new products and services, improve our current offerings, and engage new clients.

We have some exciting announcements, including new clients,new products, and new reports — stay tuned! If you haven’t already, keep up with the latest by subscribing to our newsletter here.

SDG Capital Finder 1.0 Launch

The SDG Capital Finder is the first searchable database for identifying funders that are aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals. It leverages the globally endorsed SDG framework to help partners find each other and accelerate the transition to sustainable development — country by country and goal by goal.

We’re excited to announce the official launch of the SDG Capital Finder!

Over the past four months, our SDG Capital Finder has been in beta mode — we’ve been fine-tuning our data, finding new investors to include in the database, and creating new products around the database.

Today, we’re launching SDG Capital Finder 1.0! We’ve added new funder types to the Capital Finder, and have re-categorized each funder on the platform.

sustainable development goals, SDGs, funding the SDGs

In addition to angel investor networks, crowdfunding platforms, impact investors, public / semi-public funders, and venture capital firms, we’ve added the following types of funders:

  • Banks
  • Foundations
  • Microfinance institutions
  • Nonprofits
  • Private equity firms
  • More funder types to come soon

The new, refined categories mean more accurate results. It’s a significant upgrade with a lot going on behind the scenes that will make the Capital Finder even more useful to entrepreneurs, development organizations, analysts, alternative capital providers, and many more.

Knowing who to hit up for funding is obviously highly important. But where do you go from there?

We want to give entrepreneurs information that helps them better understand the fundraising process. We’ve always viewed the SDG Capital Finder as a tool that helps entrepreneurs to answer the questions of who to fundraise from. Our Entrepreneur Hub is a natural extension of this, as it helps the answer the question of how to fundraise.

This means providing entrepreneurs with templates of documents they need to present to investors, tips from entrepreneurs who have been in their shoes in the past, explainer videos for key concepts, descriptions of capital types (grant, debt, equity) and funder types (VC, impact investor, etc.), and much more.

The new Hub makes this information more readily-available, and gives entrepreneurs the ability to focus on the aspects they need help with most.

business plan template

We hope the revamped SDG Capital Finder is a useful tool for development organizations, entrepreneurs, private capital providers, and others in identifying funding partners, facilitating public-private partnerships, and raising capital.

We have some exciting announcements, including new clients, new products, and new reports — stay tuned! If you haven’t already, keep up with the latest by subscribing to our newsletter here.

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.