How an Italian Agency Cleverly Imitates Silicon Valley to Fund Entrepreneurs in Uganda

What innovation looks like in Bulambuli Valley

If you took a trip to Bulambuli Valley in Uganda, you would stumble upon a small town filled with entrepreneurs. The people there are not unlike those you would find in Silicon Valley—hardworking, innovative individuals risking everything to bring their brilliant ideas to life.

There's a team working day and night creating the first 3-D printed eggs called Chicken, as well as the ergonomically designed, 100 percent solar-powered Tomato that never needs to be plugged in. Then there's the team creating Chair, a product designed to recharge humans without any wires. What a concept!

Look a little closer and it's clear that the campaign, which plays on the standard fundraising video found on a Kickstarter page, is a means of comparing the struggles of the Ugandan community with the massive amounts of money raised for Silicon Valley on platforms like Kickstarter and Indiegogo.

The point of the campaign, which launched in late July, is to remind people that the whole African community "needs your help," as Curro Piqueras, currently at McCann WorldGroup London, puts it. Piqueras worked on the campaign prior to joining McCann and teamed up with the small Italian agency DUDE to bring the campaign to life for the London-based nonprofit, Communities for Development.

"While studying the NGO, Communities for Development, we realized that, through training and education, they were in fact turning simple farmers and artisans into actual entrepreneurs … In the end, for a small rural city in Uganda starting a business, whether it's growing tomatoes, breeding chickens or building chairs, is pretty much the same as funding a start-up in the western world: It has huge risks, it requires courage and vision, know-how and, most of all, support from people who believe in your project," Piqueras said. 

"Some of the newspapers and blogs that shared the campaign called it a 'parody of crowd funding' some even said we were 'trolling Silicon Valley.' The simple answer is we were looking for a way to make our story interesting and relevant to a target of people who are used to donating to projects they believe in," he added. 

So how successful has the clever campaign been since it launched?

With no money for a PR agency to help spread the word, the agency used other tactics to spread the word. DUDE created a number of specialized videos directed at big names from Bill Gates to Elon Musk and key media outlets to try and boost awareness for the campaign. After the video debuted, it spread among European media outlets and helped the campaign, in just two weeks, reach its initial goal of $15,000.

To date, the Indiegogo campaign has raised nearly $19,000 and still has just over two weeks left to go. After hitting the initial goal the team decided to up the ante, expanding to a $25,000 goal, which would help fund five additional startups. Each business "benefits up to 30 families, with which an average of five members per family, means around 750 people," Piqueras said. The team also set two other "stretch goals" of $50,000, which would fund an entrepreneur school, and $100,000 which would help create a permanent hub to fund entrepreneurs in Bulambuli Valley.

Just like any good Indiegogo campaign, supporters are rewarded with bonuses depending on how much money they decide to donate to the campaign. $20 gets you a nice thank you video while $45 gets you a chicken t-shirt. At $300 you can name your own cow and for $1,000 you can sponsor a business in the valley.

CREDITS

Client : COMMUNITIES FOR DEVELOPMENT

Agency/Production:  DUDE