A reinvented model to access education is born. FutureFunded is the first crowdfunding platform enabling individuals to raise the funds they need to learn the skills that the labor market is demanding. This is a project powered by the creative and collaborative community Makers of Barcelona. To better understand this initiative we spoke to one of its founders, Laura Fernández.
– How did FutureFunded project start? I guess you did certain observations that encouraged you to launch this project. Tell us.
About 3 years ago, Makers of Barcelona launched a training program in innovation, creativity and entrepreneurship for unemployed youth called Project Youngfish. Since then we have launched 8 editions and worked with over 200 youth. Beyond training, our main goal is to empower youth and connect them to a community of professionals that can bring them value. Each of the editions has been a valuable and enriching experience for both mentors and our students. However, one of our biggest challenge to carry out the program was always funding and last summer we started thinking about how we could solve this. In this research process we realised that this is an issue that youth also have as individuals.
Unemployment among youth is currently a big problem while at the same time, ironically, companies have difficulties finding people with certain skills and competences to fill positions. Technology is changing drastically the job market, the education sector and other aspects of the society, it is up to use to make it work on our behalf.
Thinking of unemployment and the process an individual must go through to get the skills the job market was lacking we found that access, specifically because from a financial point of view, represented a major obstacle for youth. We realised technology could allow to solve this problem. We also wanted involve the community, which could facilitate not only funding, but also provide support and valuable connections and finally, we wanted to show people how capable they are by making them aware of the power and resources (materials and immaterial) that we have around us today.
– How does the platform work?
Its functionality is like any other crowdfunding platform, but here we support people who want attend a training or educational program. In exchange of every contribution, the users deliver rewards using their newly skills acquired during the educational program. For example:
Carla wants to learn web design. Pedro decides to support her with 300€. Once Carla has completed the program, she will design a landing page for a new product Pedro wants to launch.
– Do you think that crowdfunding is a just a trend or is really an alternative financing model which has come to stay?
Not long ago the only way to get funding was through family, friends or banks, the latter could decide to support you or not depending on the risk and their interests, above all economics. The interesting thing about crowdfunding is that is open and accessible for everyone. Here the nature of the project can be any and also you involve your community, in this case not only moved by economic interests but by common values and connection and interest in a project. Thousands of projects have been backed already with this model and it is becoming increasingly popular in our society, so I think we’re just beginning of this revolution as we find more creative ways of utilizing this technology.
– Often times the word we think when we hear “crowdfunding” is “money”, but seems that for Future Funded does not think likewise. What do you see beyond crowdfunding?
What we want is to create value for every party involved in the process and provide the necessary resources for that value to happen. FutureFunded is committed to a model of service exchange, meaning that when someone decides to contribute with money to a campaign, the person receiving those funds must provide a service in exchange. This fact is not arbitrary, since it is not only about giving something in exchange for something, but to create connections and experiences of value. That is, when a person backs one of our users, our user is getting experience with his/her new skills and creating synergies and professional connections with his/her backers.