By Anisa Menur A. Maulani for e27
KitaBisa CEO Alfatih Timur talks about the company’s milestones, and how it managed to balance business and social impact
When we talk about crowdfunding platforms in Indonesia, one name always pops up as top-of-mind. As one of the first companies to implement such a concept in the market, KitaBisa has acquired enough mindshare to be the go-to crowdfunding platform in the country.
It is no surprise, considering all the high-profile campaigns that the platform has successfully funded, so far. From helping the Indonesian Red Cross get a new blood donation bus, saving a school for street kids from eviction, rebuilding a mosque that had been torched down by an angry mob, supporting an Indonesian Formula 1 racer to compete, assisting an indie band in hosting their tour in Japan, to even getting celebrities to shave their head for charity, KitaBisa — which means ‘we can’ in Bahasa Indonesia — has done it all.
The platform’s latest achievement was securing IDR3 billion (US$230,500) to help fund the building of a mosque in Chiba, Japan.
In a meeting wiht e27, KitaBisa CEO Alfatih Timur shared some of the challenges and also highlighted how people can get inspired when they see crowdfunding success stories. “Successful campaigns have led to other [successful campaigns],” he said. “It encourages people to see us as a tool for fundraising. Honestly, it is hard to explain the concept of KitaBisa to people who have never seen it.”
Social entrepreneurship in action
Timur first learned the concept of social entrepreneurship when he was working as a personal assistant for renowned academician Prof. Rhenald Khasali.
“At that time, I really did not know what I want to do,” he told e27. “I spoke to several activists and social entrepreneurs, and I found out that they are facing challenges in securing capital. Then I had this simple hypothesis: these guys have a very good story, and so there must be someone out there who is willing to help them.”
“On the flipside, there are people who are willing to donate, but don’t know where to go. That’s how I first came up with the idea to connect the two,” he continues.
Timur then explained his idea to Prof. Khasali, who then gave the project a go. The professor even ended up investing in the company’s pre-seed funding round, before it secured a seed round byANGIN and 500 Startups later.
Social responsibility can be sustianable
“When we began, we started out as a social movement,” Timur added. “At the time, we had no knowledge of things such as ‘setting up a private limited company’, ‘startups’, and ‘crowdfunding’ as it is done abroad. We only knew a bit about these things. We just wanted to do good and connect people.”
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“On the second year, we set up our foundation. By that time, we weren’t thinking about revenue, although we have been charging five per cent since the beginning. Finally, in the third year, we established our own corporation. We began to raise funding from VCs,” he continues.
“We thought: okay, so this seems to be a sustainable way to help people. The five per cent charge is able to cover operations for us, and we can still offer special packages for NGOs that would like to advertise on Facebook or other promotions,” he concludes.
KitaBisa is based in Jakarta, where the business is run by a team of 14. Also part of the team is a cat named Voodoo who holds the title of Chief Stress Reliever.
Throughout its journey, KitaBisa has gone through several transformations. At its inception, the platform was meant to fund social enterprises. It also went through a period where it focused more on innovation and creative projects, such as movies and IoT products.
Currently, however, the startup focuses more on social projects, even though it still maintains support for innovation and creative projects.
“At first we forbade users to campaign for personal causes, such as fundraising for a sick friend. We wanted to put emphasis on innovative projects. But, then it turned out that personal causes are the fastest to reach its target,” Timur says.
KitaBisa is also experimenting with new features, such the ‘Birthday Fundraising’, where users can create a campaign to raise funds for an individual or an institution as part of the user’s birthday celebration.
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“The simple idea behind it is that many people are looking for something to do on their birthdays. We would like to encourage them to do so. Instead of having other people buying them gifts, why don’t they gather gifts for those who need it more than them?” Timur explains.
With this new feature, users can nominate their chosen individual or institution, or leave it to KitaBisa to pick one for them.
The future: more partnerships and a mission to bring diverse peoples together
In the future, Timur says that KitaBisa still wants to focus on the Indonesian market, with deeper emphasis on Islamic givings, such as the Idul Adha sacrifice. To achieve this goal, KitaBisa has established a partnership with Islamic charity organisations such as Dompet Dhuafa, Rumah Zakat, and Baznas.
“Lately we’ve been finding many donors who don’t just stick to the campaigners, but also to the platform itself. Like, there are some who would like to channel their monthly donations or ‘zakat’ (alms-giving) through KitaBisa. But zakat has to be managed by registered institutions — that’s why we partner with them,” he explains.
“At the beginning, people supported KitaBisa because of friends’ recommendations. But ultimately, we want to be your go-to organisation for charity solutions,” he stresses.
Timur adds that the beauty of the platform is the diversity of the people using it to donate.
“We had a Chinese businessman from Borneo donating to build a mosque, and we had a guy named Muhammad donating to build a church. It’s very beautiful — and bridging diversity has become our mission,” he ends the conversation.
First appeared at e27