Japan’s Airfunding, UN’s IOM, shake hands to support entrepreneurs in Sierra Leone

Image credit: Kiheitai

Tokyo-based Kiheitai, the parent company of the Airfunding cross-border donation-based crowdfunding platform, has partnered with the International Organization for Migration (IOM), a United Nations affiliate. Through the partnership, the company aims to support the development of entrepreneurs in Sierra Leone leveraging the crowdfunding platform.

Kiheitai was founded back in September of 2010. Incubate Fund’s general partners and co-founders Keisuke Wada and Yusuke Murata were initially involved in founding the startup, and then Ryosuke Abe, the current CEO, joined them later. In addition to Airfunding, the company has also launched Airtripp, a social networking app that allows users to connect with people around the world by posting photos.

Many of our readers may recall that a crowdfunding platform in the US called GoFundMe is often used to celebrate somebody’s life events and provide support for people in difficulties such as accidents and illnesses. It is still fresh in my mind that GoFundMe launched a funding campaign to support the family of a Japanese woman who was killed in a hit-and-run accident in SOMA, San Francisco on New Year’s eve. Airfunding can be easily understood as a cross-border version of GoFundMe.

In an interview with Bridge, Abe explains how the platform is being used.

Many projects are intended to donate to the people in ASEAN and Latin American countries. About 17,000 to 18,000 projects are created on the platform each month, many of which are funded by relatives, family members, classmates in their high school years, and acquaintances. There are many different types of support, such as medical assistance, disaster relief, and even support for soccer study abroad.

There are non-governmental organizations (NGOs) providing support in the countries concerned, but they often do not operate outside their country and the existence of these organizations and social problems are less known globally. It seems that Airfunding intends to help smooth the flow of funds across countries and bring social issues to the world’s attention by putting them on the platform.

Although Airfunding’s direct target is individuals, more than a few NGOs and non-profit organizations (NPOs) are contacting the platform. For Airfunding, this is the first time to support an organization rather than an individual.

Airfunding has so far supported more than 200,000 projects in over 200 countries by offering them about US$200 million in total. Kiheitai has secured equity funding from multiple VC firms including i-nest Capital.

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