Looking back on the first INCrowd project – and why you should join the next!

The first INCrowd Academy with FPEI/Zaar gave four youths the tools to get their ideas off the ground

For a small group of promising young entrepreneurs from Malta and Gozo, May 2022 marked an exciting moment in their careers.

Between 13-15 May, four carefully selected applicants to the INCrowd project took a fully funded trip to an international crowdfunding academy in Brussels. There, they met and learned alongside other youths from Belgium, Italy and Croatia, in three days of activities designed to help them develop their ideas and transform them into reality.

Welcome to the INCrowd project

The INCrowd project – or ‘Inclusion through Crowdfunding’ – aims to empower young people aged between 18 and 30 years old with the tools and knowledge to raise capital for their venture through crowdfunding.

Spearheaded in Malta by the Foundation for the Promotion of Entrepreneurial Initiatives (FPEI) and Zaar, this Erasmus+ EU Project is all about making sure that young people with big ideas have access to alternative finance opportunities.

FPEI and Zaar: the fuel behind Malta’s entrepreneurs

INCrowd is the latest initiative by FPEI, which was set up by the Malta Business Bureau (MBB) and the University of Malta to promote entrepreneurship on the island.

FPEI collaborates with local and international partners to create valuable opportunities like INCrowd, while ensuring that the nation’s entrepreneurs can easily access all the tools to succeed – such as funding.

In fact, FPEI introduced crowdfunding to Malta through Zaar, the island’s only reward-based crowdfunding platform, so that entrepreneurs in Malta and Gozo can find the funds they need to start-up or scale-up their projects.

Why Crowdfunding?

Now one of the world’s most popular means of alternative finance, crowdfunding takes projects from a range of different backgrounds and connects them to their target audience, or ‘crowd’.

Cutting out the stress, time and expense of traditional funding methods such as bank loans or finding angel investors, crowdfunding gives entrepreneurs a popular platform upon which to promote their project and receive donations directly from the crowd.

Crowdfunding 101 with the first INCrowd

Through INCrowd, four young people attended the international crowdfunding academy in Brussels to learn more about how crowdfunding can help towards their individual project goals.

Participants also launched their projects on Zaar, receiving expert support and all they needed to build their campaign including external promotional and marketing resources.

Three days in Brussels

During their time in Brussels, participants enjoyed a busy schedule of workshops, presentations and creative learning activities. These helped them build a better understanding of how crowdfunding impacts local communities and economies, as well as polished their knowledge and skills on how to run a successful crowdfunding campaign.

The international group also networked, to exchange their experiences and learn from each other.

Of course, there was still time to socialise and explore the beauty of Brussels!

Representing Malta at INCrowd

The four young entrepreneurs in the first INCrowd project were:

  • Nicole Borg with Sikura, a safety device for women,
  • Ricky Galea with an innovative online learning platform,
  • Kirsten Xuereb, developing her crowdfunding idea, and
  • Karolina Rostkowska with il-lokal, a shop promoting Maltese and Malta-based creatives.

“INCrowd was a chance to exchange ideas and share experiences with like-minded project owners and entrepreneurs from different European countries,” says Ms Rostkowska. “I presented my campaign in person during the events and workshops, to audiences that I otherwise wouldn’t be able to reach, and my crowdfunding campaign received more exposure and promotion, which helped me reach my financial goal. I left Brussels with boosted confidence and motivation (not to mention some wonderful personal connections).”

Ready for INCrowd round two?

Following the success of the first session, the second round of INCrowd will take the next set of promising young entrepreneurs from Malta to another crowdfunding academy in Padua, Italy, this November.

And since INCrowd is eligible for anyone with an idea or project aged between 18 and 30 years old, who is a Maltese national or holds Maltese citizenship or a residence permit, it is a valuable opportunity to see for yourself just how far crowdfunding can take you.

Prior to the academy, a series of training sessions led by experts in alternative funding, marketing and creative writing will happen on 2nd & 3rd and 5th & 6th September at Valletta Design Cluster.

“INCrowd is a great project to kick off your crowdfunding campaign and build your project! It not only provides you with a full skillset on this type of alternative financing, but it also opens many different promotional channels for the campaign,” says Ms Rostkowska. “I highly recommend applying!”

More information about the INCrowd project is also available at www.incrowdproject.eu. Interested applicants for the next round of INCrowd and to register for the training sessions are invited to complete an online application form at https://forms.gle/5F7BKVeJCSfDgfkv5. Spaces are available on a first-come, first-served basis.