The unavailability of international financial payment systems, and online fundraising platforms in Ethiopia, has made it difficult for charities, NGOs, and individuals to access and use these resources to their avail easily.
This is the reason behind the inception of WegenFund, an Ethiopian online fundraising platform.
WegenFund was launched on Dec 30, 2021, in collaboration with Wegen Solution PLC, Bank of Abyssinia, Telebirr, and Chapa.
WegenFund is a fundraising and crowdfunding platform that enables charitable organizations and religious institutions to campaign and raise funds globally.
Belachew Chekene (Ph.d.), Co-founder and Director of WegenFund, told Addis Zeybe that “WegenFund also supports fundraising for medical emergencies (at the personal level), where there is a clear case, confirmed by accredited medical institutions”.
He further mentioned his institution has concrete project ideas lined up to mobilize entrepreneurship and boost startup funds.
The target of this online fundraising platform is to create donation campaigns for charities, religious organizations, and individuals facing severe medical emergencies, and serve as a crowdfunding platform for entrepreneurs, artists and researchers.
"As the adage goes, 'many hands make light work', such initiatives will support our country’s development through technology transfer, legal foreign currency transactions, and play a role in controlling the illegal and fraudulent fundraising on the streets," said Belachew.
Wegenfund became an effective Ethiopian platform for raising funds for a range of causes, such as war-affected areas, droughts in the Somalia region, charities working with elders’ associations, orphans, food banks, and individual medical causes.
The platform enables registered charities and others to raise funds both locally (using Telebirr) and internationally (using Mastercard, VISA, and more). Despite its one-year early stage of operation, WegenFund has so far raised more than 2 million ETB for various causes, according to the co-founder.
In contrast to international crowdfunding platforms such as GoFundMe and JustGiving, Belachew connotes that the drawback with these platforms is that charities and individuals in Ethiopia can not access and use them (mainly due to financial regulations). They often require the users to be residents of countries in the Western World.
WegenFund is meant to overcome these problems and enable Ethiopian charities, religious institutions, and individuals to directly raise funds from their supporters both within Ethiopia and from the diasporas abroad.
“Some dub WegenFund as the ‘Ethiopian Gofundme’ for the reason that it is a very interactive, secure, and easy-to-use website for fundraising purposes,” said Belachew.
“WegenFund also has the potential to avoid collecting money in cash and committing illegal acts such as fraud.”
WegenFund is run by Wegen Technology Solutions PLC. with a budget secured from its partners.
Speaking about long-term plans, Belachew said, "We strongly believe that it is encouraging and supporting small businesses that will help the economy grow. Our dream is to empower people, ranging from street merchants and university professors to city furniture designers and countryside farmers. We further yearn to roll out WegenFund to neighboring countries”.
“One interesting factor that would encourage users is that WegenFund charges a minimal transaction and administration fee just to cover its costs.”
Charities, religious institutions, and others involved in fundraising activities can be beneficiaries of the WegenFund by registering via its website and presenting their organization’s memorandum of association.
On the other hand, religious institutions need to bring letters from religious leaders and the governing body of the religious institution.
Individuals with medical causes must prove their urgent medical situation to raise funds through WegenFund.
After the user’s registration on Wegen Fund's website, both WegenFund and Abyssinia Bank are in charge of reviewing the provided documents and approving the registration application.
Belachew remarked that registering on the platform also enables organizations to present their case to various parties across various social media platforms.