Dubai: If you are planning to start your own business and are struggling with getting the necessary funding for your entrepreneurial dreams, there is good news. In March this year, the UAE government approved the use of crowdfunding in the public and private sectors, enabling new businesses to raise funds for their ideas and encouraging entrepreneurship.
Through crowdfunding platforms, small and medium enterprises (SMEs) will be able to raise the necessary funds to support their new business ideas.
If you are interested in raising funds for your business, here is all you need to know about crowdfunding in the UAE.
What is crowdfunding?
Crowdfunding is the practice of funding a project by raising money from a large number of people through licensed online platforms. Typically, crowdfunding consists of three parties:
• the person raising funds,
• the party providing the crowdfunding platform,
• the public providing funding through the platform.
It is important to note that crowdfunding is different from fundraising activities for charities and social causes, which are regulated in the UAE and done through state-based registered channels.
When raising funds for loans and investments for businesses, these are the common types of crowdfunding models:
• Donations model where funders donate a sum for a cause and do not expect any returns
• Rewards model where funds are asked for in exchange for a future reward
• Crowd-sourced equity funding (CSEF) where the investors receive shares in a company in exchange for the fund they provided
• Debt or peer-to-peer lending model where the lenders provide loans to borrowers and expect it to be paid back with interest at an agreed rate, or a rate fixed by the crowdsourcing platform.
What are the crowdfunding options available in the UAE?
As per the UAE government's official website, u.ae, these are the platforms available in the UAE that allow entrepreneurs to use crowdfunding to raise capital for their business ideas:
How to raise funds with DubaiNEXT
DubaiNEXT is a digital crowdfunding platform from Dubai Government. It was launched to facilitate Dubai-based individuals and companies who have creative projects to start a campaign through the platform and ask the UAE’s community to fund their business idea and turn it into a venture.
DubaiNEXT is based on the ‘All-or-Nothing’ model, where a campaigner sets a fundraising goal, but keeps nothing unless the goal is achieved. After the campaigner meets his funding goal, the amount will be released to him through Dubai SME. If the campaign does not reach the funded goal, the contributed amount will be refunded to the contributors.
If you wish to set up a crowdfunding campaign through DubaiNext, follow these steps:
Step 1: Create a UAEPass
Currently, the website only supports registration through UAEPass. The national identity platform has now made it easier for people to register using facial recognition technology, which is possible through most modern smartphones. To read a detailed guide on how you can set up your UAEPass account in minutes, read our detailed guide here.
Step 2: Visit the DubaiNEXT website
Next, you would need to visit the website – www.dubainext.ae
Click on ‘Start a campaign’ on the top menu panel.
Step 3: Verify identity through UAEPass
You will be asked to login using UAEPass.
Enter your Emirates ID number and click on Login.
The portal will then send an authentication request to your phone, on which you have the UAEPass app installed. You can verify your identity using the four digit code you have set, or through facial recognition, depending on the settings you have preferred for UAEPass.
Step 4: Agree to the terms and conditions
Check the box and click on Login. The website will redirect you to the homepage.
Step 5: Start your campaign
You can then click on ‘Start your campaign’ on the home page and you will be guided through a step-by-step process of setting up the campaign.
Enter campaign title.
Add a featured image that best illustrates your campaign. The featured image has square-ish dimensions – 1336px x 1002px. You will also be asked to upload a header image, however this is optional.
Pick a category for your campaign.
Step 6: Set your fundraising goals
You would then need to set your funding goal, which should be the minimum amount needed to complete the project and fulfill all rewards.
You will also be asked to set a campaign duration.
Step 7: Provide campaign details
In the next step you will be asked to describe the campaign, upload any videos that you may wish to add, as well as provide answers to frequently asked questions.
Step 8: Add rewards
You can then set contributor rewards based on the amount they contribute.
Step 9: Set your campaign profile
You can choose to have an individual or your business organisation as the identity that is displayed under your campaign profile.
Step 10: Review your campaign details
Do a final review of your campaign before submitting it on the platform.
How to raise funds with Beehive
Beehive is based in Dubai and according to their website – beehive.ae - it is the first peer to peer (P2P) lending platform in MENA to be regulated by the DFSA (Dubai Financial Services Authority).
To kick start your crowdfunding campaign, all you need to is fill out an application form and provide your company details.
Go to the Beehive – ‘borrow’ page https://www.beehive.ae/borrow/ and click on the ‘Get Funded Button)
1. Next you will land on the ‘Register for Beehive Finance’ form and fill out your company’s detailS.
2. The details include
• Business / Trading Name
• How much finance would you like to request? – the minimum amount is Dh100,000 to Dh1,000,000
3. Then choose why need the funds and the type: you have four options:
• Working capital – funds for the day to day operations
• Growth and extension capital – if you’re looking to expand your business
• Refinancing your business
• Small asset purchases
4. Then, choose the period for funding:
• Six months
• One year
• 18 months
• Two years
• Three years
5. Business incorporation date – the date your business was founded. The business must be stablished for at least two years.
6. The business’s invoice for the last 150 days.
7. Next explain the customers you achieve to target for your business. Then, submit the application. Your application for financial request will have to be approved by Beehive.
During the approval process - all businesses applying for finance request on Beehive need to provide the necessary financial and business documentation in order that a full risk assessment can be completed. The information Beehive requests is in line with regional bank financing.
As of now, Beehive only accepts applications from UAE based businesses.
How to raise funds with Eureeca
Eureeca was launched in Dubai in 2013 and has expanded to other countries globally. It is an equity crowdfunding platform and offers the funding of a private company online after a diligent screening process.
To start crowdfunding via Eureeca, you need to sign up on the website and create an account to have access to the application form.
Once you access the application form, you will need to provide your company details, similar to the Beehive process.
However to be eligibility requirements to raise funds for crowdfunding campaign on Eureeca - an operational SME should raise a funding target of at least $250,000 (Dh918,242).
Once you have completed the basic application form and screened by Eureeca, you will be asked to provide documents and information that will support your funding proposal:
• Pitch deck or Business plan that highlights the management team, business value proposition, market segment, revenue model, and use of funds.
• Financials: historical and projected (3-5 years).
• A Term Sheet or agreement outlining the rights you are offering.
After you have submitted the documents, for the first few weeks you will plan your proposal and have a 90 day period to raise capital from the crowd. Once you have achieved you fundraising goals, the campaign will shut down with a receipt of the funds.