Oliver Gajda, President of the European Crowdfunding Network, addressed a business seminar organised by the Malta Business Bureau and the Ministry for the Economy, Investment and Small Business, as part of the 2014 SME Week Activities.
Mr Gajda discussed the surge of crowdfunding in recent years and how this offered an alternative financing means to start-ups and SMEs at a time when the credit market was slowly recovering from the economic crisis.
The presentation was given in the context of a debate aimed to explore Malta’s potential to attract and nurture start-ups, particularly through business incubation. It then discussed how Crowdfunding can serve as a financing instrument to finance innovative and creative projects that usually find it hard to secure traditional financing such as bank loans.
Crowdfunding occurs through the collective support of many persons who network and pool their resources to finance initiatives initiated by other people or organisations. Projects and businesses are financed with small contributions from a large number of persons, allowing innovators, entrepreneurs and business owners to utilise their social networks to raise capital.
The seminar was first addressed by Ing Ray Muscat, who took stock of the start-up offering in Malta and put forward policy recommendations on frameworks as well as incentives required in order to increase Malta’s potential in becoming a regional start-up hub. Dr Anton Bartolo, discussed the role of business incubators, particularly of the University’s Take Off incubator, to support and direct innovative start-ups in setting off to the right business direction.
Vanessa MacDonald, editor of The Observer, moderated the panel debates with the participation of other speakers including Dr Alexandra Bush from ISIS Innovation – the commercialisation arm of Oxford University, Mr George Vella from the Malta Business Bureau, Mr Tyron Lloyd Baron from Inbound Muse – a local start-up, and Mr Kris Micallef who has funded a project through Crowdfunding.
In the introductory note, MBB President Mario Spiteri made a case for the need of varied financing instruments in Malta. “While crowdfunding is buzzing all over Europe, in Malta, it is still rather dormant. Very few have so far sought to use crowdfunding to finance their business initiatives,” he said. “The Malta Business Bureau believes now is the opportune time to put this instrument on the local credit map, and discuss how it can further support enterprises in Malta,” he continued.
The event was also addressed by the Minister for the Economy, Hon Chris Cardona. He noted that “Crowdfunding is certainly intriguing – not just because it can be used for market research, financing or marketing. It works at an emotional level too, with funders becoming ambassadors for the project or business they support. And, let’s face it, where a funder brings business skills as well as finance that is to be welcomed too.”
Furthermore Minister Cardona stated that “Anything which helps ideas take off is actually welcome and needs to be encouraged. As a government we need to encourage young people to act upon their ideas. Giving them the opportunity and resources to do so is a duty that we owe to the younger generations. Their ideas will shape our future and enhance the economic growth of our country.”