A number of projects current exist that enable individuals or companies to seek funding from other individuals, instead of from financial institutions (e.g. banks). Such ``crowd funding" sites often build on an emotional and a "social value" proposition individuals can associate with, based on a proposition made by another individual or company (which may also be a charity). A number of such sites have emerged over recent years -- such as KickStarter, Lending Circle, Zopa Finance, Lending Works, etc.
The aim of this project will be to investigate how a similar crowd funding model could be used to finance civic projects and support micro-financing.
Examples of efforts most closely aligned with include:
i) Space Hive (UK) -- https://www.spacehive.com/
Focuses on supporting community/civic projects, with limited budgets available at city councils to support projects. The site works very similar to KickStarter, except the projects being funded focus on "enhancing" community wellbeing and/or supporting an activity that is likely to make an impact on a particular social group (geographical or a special interest group).
ii) Akhuwat (Pakistan): http://www.akhuwat.org.pk/
Akhuwat focuses on project-based loans (micro-finance), and enables donors to lend using their credit cards and does not require direct information of a bank account. There is, for instance, the option to support ``scholarships" for students to attend University. Unlike general crowd funding sites, Akhuwat is information rich, primarily to attract interest of potential donors. It therefore closely resembles charity related Web sites, which provide project-specific (and generally social-media rich) content.
A number of other sites also exist.
As part of this project you are expected to:
i. Explore key features of crowd funding sites focusing on micro-finance and civic projects. Students are expected to undertake a survey of existing sites and identify key features and limitations with these sites.
As part of this work, you should attempt to characterise features these sites have chosen to support user engagement. We consider the following categories: (i) credit unions; (ii) crowd funding; (iii) peer to peer lending; (iv) micro?? finance based sites. The most important factors are to determine and highlight the key areas of their 'Customer Relationship Management' and their 'Risk Management' tools etc.
ii. Students are expected to develop a site that supports:
a) individuals or groups to specify a project -- and ensure that enough information (with an appropriate style) is used to attract donors.
b) implement a backend system (e.g. a database) that enables donor information to be kept, in a secure way, and enable this database to grow over time -- perhaps a cloud-based database may be considered for this?
c) enable statistics/information about projects to be extracted -- and displayed in a "dashboard" style interface for registered users
iii. design and implement a prototype of the system
iv. validate the system with potential end users -- identified by the supervisor