Egypt startup trades clicks for cash

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To try to defuse an education crisis, ‘clickfunding’ startup Bassita is joining forces with the Misr El Kheir Foundation to campaign for more community schools in the remote reaches of Upper Egypt.

Bassita is an Egyptian startup that was created and launched by Alban De Menonville and Salem Massalha in 2014.

Alban De Menonville.
(Images via Bassita)

The startup uses ‘clickfunding’, a social media model that uses user engagement such as views, likes, shares and comments to raise money for, in this case, good causes. Clicks translate into ‘points’ and once a certain threshold has been reached the cause is fully funded by pre-arranged sponsors.

Bassita places videos on social media platforms Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube; each view gives one point, each favourite or like gives two points, each share or retweet gives three points, and each comment gives five points.


Egypt 'perfect' for clickfunding

Salem Massalha.

“You’re one click away from changing the world,” De Menonville said, adding that clickfunding was more attainable in a country like Egypt with a huge population. Further, Egypt’s internet penetration reached 33 percent in 2016, enabling more people to engage with campaigns online.

The startup initially struggled financially, starting with capital of 25,000 Egyptian pounds in 2014 (then worth about US$3,500). However with their first project funded by Baraka Optics, a campaign to give artisans glasses, they made enough money to sustain the business.

“Bassita is an innovation that really evolved in Egypt, with no funding from any foreign country,” Massalha said. “The idea was inspired by the Egyptian revolution after seeing how influential social media was in changing the status quo and shifting the paradigm.”

Turning clicks into points into money

The Misr El Kheir ‘Education for All’ campaign started in October and aims to provide community schools for 1,100 children in Upper Egypt.

This is the first time Misr El Kheir has used clickfunding; it set a 2.2 million point target which it exceeded in under six days.

Massalha said every 200,000 points earned funding to send 100 children to school.

The end goal is to raise 2.15 million Egyptian pounds (US$242,000) to cover schooling fees of 1,900 Egyptian pounds (US$213) per child, per year.

“A number of renowned firms are interested in supporting and funding the program, including HSBC, Credit Agricole and Orange and... Misr El Kheir,” Massalha told Wamda.

Market with a cause, not a billboard

In his opinion, sponsoring a ‘cause’ was a better way for corporations to spend their marketing budget than on an unsightly billboard next to one of Cairo’s cross city highways.

For example, a Unicef clickfunding campaign to provide 1,000 homes access to clean water was supported by SC Johnson, property developer Wadi Degla and Careem.

Unicef Egypt representative Bruno Maes told Wamda the ‘Water for Life’ campaign was meant to raise awareness and  provide wealthier Egyptians an opportunity to help the poor.

It garnered 1.5 million clicks and earned $170,000 from sponsors.

Moving up in Egypt, moving into Europe

De Menonville said five future campaigns worth 2.5 million Egyptian pounds (US$281,000 )had been secured with Swiss NGO Droso.

Three of the campaigns are set to be a collaboration with Safarni, the Intercultural Children’s Workshop that takes children on virtual journeys, in an endeavor to introduce them to different languages and cultures.

“Instead of injecting all the money into one NGO, the organization is planning on pumping the funds through Bassita,” De Menonville said. “Bassita makes use of the funds through social media campaigns for NGOs and civil society organizations such as Safarni.”

Massalha said they would expand to Paris next in 2017 with a system that would inevitably work differently than the Cairo model.

“While education and health services are rather attainable in these countries, environmental issues could be pressing and in need of awareness and momentous collaboration between sponsors and the public. This is where we come in as a serviceable and practical tool,” De Menonville said.

Feature image via Bassita's Unicef 'Water for Life' campaign.

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