Cambodia’s ICT Award Winners: TosFUND

TosFUND is a rewards and online funding platform, the first of its kind in Cambodia. Having launched recently at the Khmer Surin, TosFUND has garnered over 16 different crowdfunding campaigns, a few of which have already achieved their funding goals.

With localised payment technology and campaigns that aim to improve Cambodia’s development in one way or another, the Kingdom’s first crowdfunding platform seeks to facilitate the fundraising of development projects and social causes.

Cedric Jancloes, TosFUND’s co-founder, tells us more.

This interview has been edited for length, flow and clarity.

Can you tell us more about TosFUND?

‘TosFUND” (meaning “go fund”) is an online crowd-funding platform with Cambodian payment systems and services. It provides a new online funding alternative for good ideas or projects. We want to engage citizens in cool and innovative grassroots initiatives – that are achieved thanks to popular support. This ranges from the development of innovative ideas and technologies to supporting local artists and filmmakers, or very simply helping those most in need. For example, older persons, young mothers or people with speech disorders – there are a lot of good things that can be done when everyone comes together.

How will TosFUND impact the Cambodian market?

Our first approach is based on global trends and we target the three most funded sectors in crowdfunding: arts and films, IT and social causes. Locally, it makes sense as well. The first sector is quite obvious; there is a chronic need for funding in the arts and films. Ironically, this is also where we see the most creative and positive ideas in society.

In the development sector, it is a good time to introduce these new funding mechanisms. Development aid is gradually decreasing and even if Cambodia’s development is impressive and fast, there are still many important needs. We have also noticed that we are responding to another market – it is related to innovation. More specifically, we have seen it in the information technology sector. We meet so many people with new positive ideas that would really benefit from popular support and get popular endorsement. For all these markets, TosFUND is a powerful campaign tool. If people support your cause, it builds confidence. If they give you money, it becomes truly empowering.

What were some of the challenges you faced with your business?

Ironically, we have an excellent response from everyone on Facebook and that is our key challenge right now – to translate over a million post reach and 550,000 video views into donations! We know it takes time to build trust when using online payment systems and it is a new behavior that was only accessible to international credit card holders until now. Another challenge is that we are at the forefront of technological development in payment systems. This implies challenges but also opportunities. For example, we were among the first websites in Cambodia to use an international credit card system online, thanks to ACLEDA. With CellCard and Wing, we also offer an interesting range of local payment solutions such as mobile and offline donations.

What are some of your key takeaways from the Cambodia ICT Awards?

First of all, congratulations to all the participants. This year, it was very competitive and there are many others that deserve to be recognized, not just the top three. So I guess that is the first takeaway, the level of quality in the technological sector is going up very fast. Secondly, we are very proud to have this recognition because we used a lot of volunteering efforts and engaged three partner companies to make this happen, so it is both heartwarming and encouraging.  The third takeaway from the ICT Awards is that in the process of screening a project for TosFUND, we helped someone who came to us with a good idea to get to the ICT Awards finals as well. It was inspiring and we are now launching this new campaign on TosFUND. It is called the Khmerism keyboard layout.

What are your future plans for TosFUND?

We have many plans but our key focus is to maintain TosFUND as a rock solid donation platform and to improve it with new payment features so that more people can join and donate easily. We recently partnered with Rotati, a leading IT company that bring us another strong arm in our IT team. This way, we can continue to develop and roll out new features while improving the platform.

For example, everyone is working super hard right now to keep up with the technological development pace so that we can start using the new credit card system that ACLEDA just released – it is a real breakthrough not just in technological terms but for the online economy as well.

What is so inspiring about TosFUND?

One of the inspiring things I have found with TosFUND is that we crowd-shaped our initiative with people from different horizons but with a common vision, this gave a brand value to our initiative and it is a driving force behind our project. We were able to connect different sectors (IT, arts and social causes) together thanks to our combined skillset. There are many opportunities for cross-pollination of ideas and talents. At the same time, the consumer base is growing very fast in mobile communications and online banking so there is a new market in the making right here. The IT sector is helping other sectors leapfrog in the technological era and we look forward to seeing more ideas come to life very soon!