Employees’ Personal Projects


In our previous blog posting we discussed crowdfunding as a way CFOs and team leaders can use to finance employee projects. Crowdfunding is a web-based funding platform that allows project owners to showcase their projects and raise small amounts of money from a pool of prospective investors. But should CFOs and companies allow employees to engage in personal projects?

A business’s most valuable asset is no doubt its personnel, so it is important that the most investment is made in these. Managers everywhere are always coming up with ways to get the best out of their employees. In the current age, mutualism seems to be the way to go if any company desires to meet its objectives. The daily routine can be draining overtime for employees and some can be left feeling burnt out. So it is very important for managers to lookout for ways to keep their employees motivated.

Encouraging employees to take part in personal projects is a great way to help them stay motivated. More and more companies are allowing employees to chase their own dreams. Apple Inc. recently launch a program called Blue Sky where employees can use their time off work to engage in projects that are close to their hearts. The initiative gives some employees 2 weeks out of their normal work schedule to work on special projects.

Google has long offered a version of this called ‘20% time’ which allows workers to devote 20% of their work time to their own projects or hacks. Many of those have turned into full-on products like YouTube for Good.

It is only natural for some form of resistance to emerge from business managers in adapting such systems. Many fear that they might lose good employees should these personal projects become successful. But those that have been running with this systems have a different thinking. “Promoting intrapreneurship, or entrepreneurship within a company, keeps ambitious employees happy”, says Matt Britton, the founder and CEO of MRY, which has close to 500 staff members. “And for employees who like the security of working for a larger corporation, giving them the opportunity to venture outside of the routine of their day-to-day activities to experiment with entrepreneurship is a talent draw and keeps the company as a whole competitive and hungry”.

Konstantinos Konstantinides says that there two types of projects employees can engage in:

Work related: These are projects you think your employer should be doing, but does not. So, you need to prove a proof of concept, do a small prototype, etc., so you can prove to management that these are projects worth pursuing.

Non-work related: A new start-up or invention.

While this trend has boomed in more developed countries like the USA and UK, it might take a little longer for it to find fame in South Africa. It is only after CFOs and managers are exposed to its benefits that their reservations will thaw. However long it will take though, this is an innovative way to keep employees motivated. For CFOs and team leaders that wish to expand their knowledge on the subject of crowdfunding or peer-to-peer finance, ACCA has released a report that goes deeper into the subject called Technical Factsheet 186 Alternative forms of finance

Crowdfunding for CFOs


The business world has a different face than it did years ago, more and more companies are working at recognising and cultivating the entrepreneurial spirit in the employees they employ.

ACCA’s report, Culture and Channelling Corporate Behaviour, suggests that individuals are loyal to the following three factors: mastery of one’s subject, autonomy and psychological relatedness of their values. The latter is evident in that a lot of employees are not satisfied in just doing their day-to-day jobs but they desire to serve their community by relating they job activities with the needs in society. “The entrepreneurial approach” has found fame in the corridors of business and more and more employees and businesses are enjoying the benefits of this approach.

CFOs and their team leaders that aim to cultivate this spirit in their employees are often faced with the challenge of financing projects proposed by employees. Crowdfunding is one of the ways that SMEs around the globe are financing their projects. Crowd funding can be used by CFOs that do not have the budget to finance all the projects employees desire to engage in.

Crowdfunding is by definition, “the practice of funding a project or venture by raising many small amounts of money from a large number of people, typically via the Internet.” This is not a new phenomenon, the only difference is that it is now web-based and the pool for investors is much greater than before when one had to approach individuals they hoped would invest in their cause.

How does it work? There are web-based platforms that CFOs can go to or direct their employees. Indiegogo, Kickstarter, Onevest are some of the well-known ones globally that project creators utilise; in South Africa the phenomenon is still at its young stages, but there are platforms that have been established to cater for this need: startme.co.za, thundafund.co.za, jumpstarter.co.za, findfund.co.za. Project creators can create a profile typically containing a short video, an introduction to their project, a list of rewards per donation, and some images to elaborate. The idea is to create a compelling message that readers will be drawn towards.

Crowdfunding offers a lot of benefits to employees that seek to integrate their passion into their work and also to CFOs that want to avoid some risks associated with funding projects proposed by employees. Forbes presents the following as benefits of crowd funding:

  • It provides access to capital
  • It hedges risk
  • It serves as a marketing tool
  • It gives proof of concept
  • It allows crowd sourcing of brainstorming
  • It introduces prospective loyal customers
  • It’s easier than traditional applications
  • It’s free PR
  • It provides the opportunity of pre-selling

It is free