By Yomna El-Saeed
The turmoil that the Arab world has faced in the past few years has had many effects on the state of mind of its inhabitants, many of them negative, but not all. One of the effects is a surge in creative ideas, especially among the younger generations. Many innovative concepts and projects have been dreamed up, only to often face an insurmountable problem: lack of funding. To help ensure that these projects see the light of day, young Lebanese entrepreneur Abdullah Abssi founded the crowd funding platform Zoomaal.
Zoomaal, in Arabic, means “the one who has money”. It was launched last July in Beirut, Lebanon to facilitate and organise crowd-funding; its main aim is to help young Arabs with creative ideas or non-Arabs, with projects they would like to implement in the Arab world, see their ideas come to fruition.
Crowd funding is a popular way to raise money for specific projects; it encourages the public to pledge amounts of money during a specific timeframe, often one month, for a project that they believe in. The goal is to raise the full amount from different donors so the projects can be implemented.
Zoomaal recently launched the Hivos Creativity Competition. Hivos, a development organisation that works in the field of art, innovation and social development, has offered a grant of $10,000 for the best project, or projects, in the competition.
Anyone can submit their idea for a project on the Zoomaal website to try and raise the funds within the space of a month. Normally, Zoomaal applies a strict all-or-nothing rule, such that every campaign must have a clear funding objective and deadline. If the total amount for the project is not reached within the deadline, donors will get the money back. The grant that is offered in the competition, though, will be used to either fund one project completely or divided over several projects to ensure the total amount is met.
There are a few rules the projects need to follow in order to compete for the prize in the Hivos Creativity Competition. The submitted projects should fit in one of Zoomaal’s categories, which include animation and comics, dance, music, fashion and many more. The projects need to be clearly defined and have an end date; they cannot involve charity or a personal need, like buying equipment for personal use. Lastly, the projects cannot have anything to do with alcohol, politics, violence, religion or adult content.
The project that wins the prize is decided by a panel of judges and the attention the project receives in social media, with both components weighing equally. At the end of the month, the times the project is shared on all different forms of social media is calculated and the judges will select their favourite initiative based on creativity, content, social impact and popularity. If the winning project does not need the full $10,000 to complete its funding, the rest of the prize money will be used to complete the funding of the runner up project.
Anyone can join the competition by submitting their project on the Zoomaal website before the deadline, 1 November.