A little over half a year ago, teens Esmée Cruiming and Roban Reuvers launched their own charity organization based on crowdfunding, a sort of Kickstarter for development aid, where people decide which charity project they want to back. The foundation features small and local projects for African kids and wants to take away the main objections for donating to charity; by being transparent and letting people decide which project they want to support.
With their crowdfunding website, Sprouteen supports and features local education projects for kids in Africa. Project developers sign up with an account and indicate how much money they need for their projects. The people making a donation, in turn, are able to see the amount of funding needed and how much of it has already been financed. People get to choose which project they want to support and how much money they want to donate.
Small projects with real results
Esmée (17) got the idea when she was doing volunteer work in Ghana, in the summer of 2014: “I noticed things were not really well organized or planned. For example, a library had just been built for the local school, but it had only ceiling fan and no windows at all. The place was way too hot and dark to actually use it as a library.”
Together with the other volunteers, she built in windows and painted the concrete walls. ‘Looking back, I think that was really the main thing I did that actually had real results”, Esmée continues. “It funny that by doing something so small, you can really make a huge difference.” When she got back and talked about her experiences with Roban (17), the two teens decided to use that idea to create their own charity foundation.
Small projects with real results is Sprouteen’s philosophy, but the two teens also think it’s very important to be transparent as charity organization. “A lot of people are a little suspicious about donating to charity”, Roban explains. “The two arguments you hear a lot are that it’s not really clear just how much of your donation is actually spent on a project, and that you don’t hear a lot about the actual results. People don’t really know whether every penny of their donation is well spent. They tend to donate to large charity organizations, who divide those donations over different projects.”
To take away those objections, Roban and Esmée came up with the idea to make it all about crowdfunding, just like Kickstarter. “That way, you give people the opportunity to choose for themselves. They decide which project they donate to and are able to see how much has already been funded and what the project aims to accomplish. We also want to keep people posted on the results, so they can see every penny was well spent, from donation to realization”, Roban explains.
Local projects, smart solutions
A lot of big development projects work with one-size-fits-all solutions. “But that doesn’t really work for local problems”, Esmée explains.”I recently heard about where they wanted more kids to attend school. Kids usually have to travel long distances, so they used the donations to buy and ship over bicycles. And while that sounds like a successful project, nobody made sure there was someone around to teach these kids how to ride bicycles or check just how dangerous the local traffic situation was. Or if there were any good roads at all. All that money could have been spent a lot better if there was someone around to check and solve local problems”
“We believe that local, practical solutions work”, Esmée continues. “Development problems are highly complex and have no one-size-fits-all solutions, so it’s best to start small and local. What do the people there need? And what don’t they need? That’s why we feature local projects.”
Want to make a donation? Head on over to Sprouteen.org.