Digital Disruption: The Rise Of Crowdfunding In Malaysia

As the world constantly evolves, new digital disruptions that affect how traditional businesses work are introduced every day. Examples include Uber and Grab that provide transportation without owning actual taxis as well as YouTube which provides a source of entertainment without having to deliver their own stream of content. Gone were the days of relying on the TV for entertainment or waiting at the taxi stand for a taxi!

Today, Skolafund.com, a crowdfunding platform is the new chief digital disruption in town. To put it simply, Skolafund.com provide financial help to students without actually having the money in the first place!

How does that work? The key word is ‘crowd’.  Skolafund.com connects students with the community who then collectively funds students to ease their financial burden. It is an alternative to applying for a fund at institutions and waiting for months before hearing from them.

Who is behind Skolafund.com?

Skolafund.com was founded by Tengku Ahmad Syamil and Mohd Syakir Hashim.  Last year, Syamil is listed under Forbes 30 under 30 Asia along with the likes of Vivy Yusof and Neelofa.

To me, Syamil is a man who refuses to accept how society measures success. He illustrated his time when he was at crossroads whether to enroll to Nanyang Technology University (NTU) in Singapore or not.

He remembered second guessing his decision to pursue higher education at NTU due to the cultural emphasis of learning for grades or rote learning. He quickly realized that a highly competitive academic setting is not for him if he were to pursue his dream of being an entrepreneur.

Now, he has successfully helped a significant number of students to gain financial access to education. This simple idea of students themselves launching a campaign to drive funds through a website is a combination of wit, technology, philanthropy and entrepreneurship.

The start of Skolafund.com

Skolafund.com was founded three years ago. Naturally, with limited funds, the start-up turned to digital marketing to raise awareness and gain trust of netizens.

Skolafund.com employs a number of digital marketing strategies namely influencer marketing, social media marketing and email marketing. Influencers in the early stages of the start-up’s rise to sustainability include Imran Ajmain and Dato’ Fazley Ya’acob who introduced this avant-garde concept to fans. The key opinion leaders actually help Skolafund.com gain the trust and credibility of the community. Once netizens see that influencers support, Skolafund.com, more people become aware of their services and applications start coming in.

Personal branding as a way to win the hearts of the community.

In 2016, after financial complications, I turned to Skolafund.com for funds to complete my education. I consider myself as one of the early adopters of this crowd funding platform. I learned later on that the success of these campaigns can be attributed to a tinge of personal branding portrayed by users. Whether the users are aware or not, they positioned and branded themselves to the public using videos and compelling stories about their dreams, hopes and aspirations.

Syamil also pointed out that the successes of the campaigns are also propelled through actively posting their campaigns on respective social media handles. Simply asking followers to hit that share button truly makes a difference on how successful a campaign is.

But, isn’t it the same as asking for donations?

Some people may view Skolafund.com as a platform to simply ask for donations or a free pass. However, this is not the case. Applying to launch a sponsorship campaign is similar to applying for a regular scholarship, Syamil explained.

Both undergo similar processes where a panel judges the applications and decides which student to offer monetary help to. The difference is who the panel is. While a scholarship application is judged by government officials and stakeholders, a sponsorship’s application is judged by the community.

The community gets the final say as to whether they feel, think or believe that the student deserves the help.

On another note, the thought process of Syamil and his team is that Skolafund.com actually helps students to get a good education and to achieve something in life that society can be proud of.  Skolafund.com is simply a one-time golden ticket for people who are lost along the way and need help arriving to their respective destinations.

Do Malaysians really support crowdfunding?

According to Syamil, a survey in 2014 concluded that Malaysians are the 7th most giving society worldwide. This means that Malaysians actually do not mind giving and helping others. Syamil also pointed out that the Malaysian society has been really supportive of Skolafund.com and their efforts to close the gap between funding and education.

It seems to me that Skolafund.com is already on its way to winning the hearts and minds of the community. What say you? Are you ready for the next digital disruption?

To learn more about Skolafund.com, visit their website at www.skolafund.com