Jamaican software developer creates crowdfunding site

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Software developer Sadikie Williams has a desire to help Jamaicans raise funds for their various socio-economic needs and entrepreneurial ventures and has developed a crowdfunding platform for us and the entire Caribbean.

Currently, only people with a social security number can start a campaign on crowdfunding platforms like GoFundme, which is a challenge because it means only US citizens can start campaigns on this site.

But, seeing the many needs brought to light by the pandemic, Williams decided to use her training and her own funds to develop the online platform – Real Helping Hands LLC – which enables Caribbean people to tap into the crowdfunding industry. of several million dollars.

The former customs officer, now based in New Jersey, “wants to help as many individuals and charities as possible raise funds online for their needs”.

“The needs are many and people need a proper, transparent and convenient platform to be able to fundraise and raise as much as possible,” Williams said. Loop News.

“My inspiration [to develop the platform] came from the need to help people, especially in Jamaica where I come from. When I watched the news, especially during the pandemic, I saw a number of needs. One particular situation that struck me was a photo of a young boy staring out a window at other kids using tablets for online school and he didn’t have a tablet,” Williams explained.

The caption for the photo suggested that only “privileged” students would have access to online education, he said, adding that the sad reality resonated with him.

“So as a software developer, I decided to look across the tech landscape in the Caribbean and Jamaica in particular and saw that there were no crowdfunding platforms for Jamaica and the Caribbean to raise funds and another issue is that…banks charge about $40 to transfer money from an overseas account to Jamaica,” he said. he declares.

Real Helping Hands has so far raised over US$150,000 in campaign funds with over 250 campaigns running on the platform.

Another challenge noted by Williams was that donors were blocked by traditional remittance agencies due to the prevalence of scams and other illicit activities.

“For someone from a charity, when they see you coming multiple times to send money, the red flags go up and the person ends up being blocked,” he said.

The needs he saw prompted him to find a simpler, more cost-effective way to the Caribbean, Williams said.

Real Helping Hands, registered in 2020 in New Jersey, therefore allows users to raise funds online without the constraints noted.

With eight employees and Empress Golding as local country manager, Real Helping Hands has so far raised over US$150,000 in campaign funds with over 250 campaigns running on the platform.

The platform also sees an average of 6,000 visitors “in any given month,” Williams said.

The company takes a 9.5% transaction fee from each donation.

“For example, if the person donates $100, they would pay $109.50, and of that $9.50, we pay an average of $4 to the credit card processing company,” he said. Explain.

It should be noted that the platform was used to help the artist Tiger – born Norman WashingtonJacksonto raise money for his medical bills, among several other cases.

“We see ourselves as something built by Jamaicans or Caribbeans for us Caribbeans,” Williams said.

With the global crowdfunding market valued at US$13.64 billion in 2021 and expected to double by 2028, according to Statista.com, Williams aims to “ccapture the entire Caribbean market – the English-speaking Caribbean and Latin America and the French-speaking Caribbean – because this region is untapped and we want to be the reference platform in the region.

Noting that the Statisca.com data does not speak to the Caribbean market, which has a combined population of over 655 million, Williams sees the region as ripe for the picking.

“It’s a huge market… oOur target market is individuals, charities, non-profit organizations and start-ups looking to raise funds through donations…[and] there’s no cap, they can raise any amount, as long as it’s for a legal and legitimate cause,” said the developer, who has worked for several other major tech companies.

For Golding, the platform represents “a central space that focuses on Jamaica and the Caribbean, as a whole, so we don’t get lost on all the other platforms.

“Crowdfunding is a multi-million dollar industry and due to the socio-economic needs of Jamaicans, I think it is so important that we focus on this industry for the development and support of our Jamaicans,” said she declared.

She also shared Williams’ perspective on entrepreneurs using the platform to raise seed money.

Emprezz Golding, local manager of Real Helping Hands

“There is no shame in using this method to raise funds for your school, church, or individual needs. Call your family and tell them you want to start a business and use this platform for them to invest in it and support you,” she urged.

To ensure that only legitimate causes are shared on the website, the Real Helping Hands team reviews all campaigns and fact checks before approving campaigns for the website.

Additionally, “Every campaign has a review section. So if a scammer starts a campaign and they manage to convince us that their campaign is legit, once we receive more than two negative reviews, we pause the campaign to perform further checks before the funds raised are released. paid,” Williams explained.

The online community therefore helps to monitor each campaign and if cases of fraud are identified, funds are returned to donors, he said.

By Tameka Gordon

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