Crowdfunding: a non-traditional financial tool for female entrepreneurs in Bolivia

SOYMUNAY S.R.L.
5 min readJun 22, 2022

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The entrepreneurial journey is challenging, everyone who is immersed in the industry knows it. However, it is even more challenging for Latin American women. To begin with, they raise 48x fewer funds than men (Crunchbase, 2020), preventing female entrepreneurs from scaling up their operations and hiring more qualified staff. Also, according to a survey conducted by our organization in 2022, 79% of female entrepreneurs in Bolivia start with their own savings (bootstrapping) as they were excluded by formal financial institutions given the lack of requirements, information, and trust. All these statistics endorse that women have been deprived of funds as cultural and gender roles still prevail in the region, causing Latin America to lose USD 400 billion annually because of the reduction of workplaces and wealth (Unnikrishnan & Blair, 2022).

A solution to mitigate the economic gender gap are non-traditional financial products. These have the advantage of democratizing access to funds through platforms and technology. For instance, peer-to-peer (P2P) lending, merchant cash advances, nanofinance, and crowdfunding. The last one will be in deep explored, the second-last one will be for the next edition. Stay tuned!

“Crowdfunding is the use of small amounts of capital from a large number of individuals to finance a new business venture” (Investopedia, 2022). Crowdfunding operates on a digital platform where creators, people who run the crowdfunding campaign, develop the content to be displayed, and supporters, people who contribute, browse the site. The platforms’ business model consists of charging a transaction fee for every contribution to the supporters and a success fee to the creators when they reach their funding objective. In addition, this type of fundraising can foster the progress of developing markets. According to the World Bank’s report “Crowdfunding’s Potential for the Developing World,” it provides SMEs (small-to-medium enterprises) with access to money, cultivates high-growth entrepreneurs, enables access to export markets, and catalyzes capital flows within the communities regardless of distance (The World Bank, 2013). Also, there are several types of crowdfunding, which vary depending on the funding class and the purpose of the campaign. For example, equity crowdfunding, crowdlending, donation-based, and reward-based crowdfunding. Again, the last one will be covered in the following paragraphs.

In Bolivia, the crowdfunding situation is slightly more complicated. Actually, there has not been an attempt in Bolivia… until now. As Franco and Bernal (2019) stated “[…] crowdfunding mechanisms are not regulated by the Financial System Supervisory Authority (ASFI) and there is no definitive pronouncement as to whether or not they are considered intermediaries in the Capital Market. However, rules on crowdfunding could potentially be included in the Startup Act.” In fact, there was a draft bill to support entrepreneurship and the digital economy in 2020 endorsed by the Agency for Electronic Government and Information and Communication Technologies, which regulated these types of fundraising activities. Sadly, the bill has not had any further development. Hence, to enable this financial tool for female entrepreneurs, Munay decided to opt for a legal loophole where the contributions made to a reward-based crowdfunding campaign will be made through a small donation, which does not compromise the donors’ equity (a round of applauses to the law firm Bernal & Franco & Aguilar Castillo Love). By using the stated mechanism, the regulation will not be an obstacle to start empowering economically women.

The first five reward-based crowdfunding campaigns in the history of Bolivia were launched on December 15th of 2021 on Munay´s platform to fund investment capital needs. A sewing machine and carpentry tools were some of the fundraising objectives. Also, the rewards were managed by the platform, the digital perks vary with the amount and times donated. These badges can be shared on social media as a reputational way to signal the purpose-driven of the donor. Finally, with great pleasure, the coMUNAYty (Munay´s community) can claim that 60 days after their launch, the five campaigns were successful, benefiting these entrepreneurs with the accomplishments of their investment needs.

Nevertheless, in every great victory, there are lessons. In this case, those are the best practices of crowdfunding in Bolivia, which are supported by data, data, and more data. Some of them are:

  • To develop a crowdfunding manual as a pre-requirement to launch the campaign. The manual needs to include a communication and digital marketing strategy with a defined schedule and content.
  • To notify previous donors of campaigns.
  • To make a contract with the requirements requested in the crowdfunding manual for entrepreneurs to sign.
  • To promote campaigns before their launch to increase the awareness and excitement of the platform and venture´s network about the coming campaigns.
  • To launch campaigns in months other than December, to avoid the holidays’ distractions.
  • Crowdfunding campaigns have more probability to get funds when the objective is up to USD 500.
  • Entrepreneurs that belong to middle, lower-middle and lower classresponds best to crowdfunding.
  • Campaigns of ventures with more notorious/common environmental impact are more likely to succeed. Interest from supporters on social impact comes second after environmental issues.
  • Neither LinkedIn, Google Ads nor Ecosia work if you are tight on budget. You need to invest a diamond to make them work.
  • Neither spamming nor mass tagging work. It only upset people.
  • Influencers and bloggers give visibility to the campaign, but not donations. As well as paid Facebook and Instagram posts/reels and TikTok.
  • Generally, the donations of a campaign have the shape of an inverted “L”. However, there is a peak perceived at the end of January, which is due to some anonymous donors.
  • QR and bank transfer are the most used payment methods as the reached audience is mainly nationals who feel more comfortable performing these operations.
  • Strategies like the open QR and 2X1 (for every donation, Munay donates the same) are suitable. However, platform fees are excluded.
  • Donors respond better to campaigns that are closer to being successful.
  • 48% of the donations came from the platform´s network, 28% of entrepreneurs´ outreach, and 24% of promotions.
  • The preferred ticket sizes are USD 5, 10, and 20 in every venture.
  • Most visitors used a mobile phone to browse Munay´s platform.
  • Crowdfunding campaigns will receive more donations as the web´s traffic rises.

Based on all these insights, Munay is adjusting its services to offer female entrepreneurs suitable tools, both financial and technical, to make their ventures succeed and promote the empowerment of women. If you want to see the complete report:

Click here for the English version

Click here for the Spanish version

Bibliography

Crunchbase. (2020, May 20). What The VC Landscape Is Really Like For Latin America’s Female Founders. Crunchbase News.

Investopedia. (2022, May 31). Crowdfunding Definition.

Unnikrishnan, S., & Blair, C. (2022, March 11). Want to Boost the Global Economy by $5 Trillion? Support Women as Entrepreneurs. BCG Global.

Crowdfunding’s Potential for the Developing World. 2013. infoDev, Finance and Private Sector Development Department. Washington, DC: World Bank.

Franco, I., & Bernal, J. (2019). ¿Cómo crear una regulación eficiente de financiamientos colectivos en Bolivia? LexLatin.

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