By Antony mutunga
The Covid-19 has left destruction of unrivalled proportions in its wake. Millions all over the world have lost their jobs as businesses cut costs or closed down altogether. Hospitality, airtravel, education, finance, manufacturing sectors are all reeling under the tight grip of the global epidemic that has refused to go away.
Creatives are yet another lot that has also been overwhelmed by the pandemic. They have watched in horror as their revenue streams dried up. As a result, most of them; artistes, musicians, gamers, fashion models, actors and comedians have been forced to rely on crowd-funding sites to make up new opportunities.
Artist Crowdfund Exchange (ACE) had been working on a platform relying on technology to provide them a way to acquire resources that would propel them into success long before the pandemic began. However, ACE couldn’t come soon enough. According to Darren Moore, one of ACE’s founding shareholders, this is a platform that has come in handy especially as rising creatives hope to begin a strong recovery from the crisis.
“It is a virtual platform where the community can come in and securely and directly invest in emerging creative’s talent and help him or her succeed to the next level,” he said in an exclusive interview with NBM.
The company which was conceived in late 2018 has a mission to connect ready investors from around the globe to these rising talents on a secure platform. Despite the company having its headquarters in Oakland near Silicon Valley, California, the idea for the platform was conceived, tested, and will debut in Kenya.
“This is as a result of the deep roots we have in Kenya,” said Darren. The entire ACE founding shareholder team, that includes Mr. Omi Iyamu and Mr. DJ Adeleke, has a deep history and roots in Kenya.
It was in Kenya that the company recently held quarantine cash contests throughout May via the social platform, IG Live, which is under Instagram @realfanvestor. As they were still working on their platform, ACE decided to fund a contest, which had the aim of affording the creatives platform to showcase their talent to potential investors, gain a bigger fan base and award winners over the month-long contest to win cash prizes.
It couldn’t have come at a better time, when many young people were on the verge of giving up following the hopelessness that was creeping in as the pandemic tightened its stranglehold. Over the course of the quarantine cash contest, the ACE founding shareholders personally gave over Sh1 million to rising creatives.
With the company expecting to finish its platform by the start of July, it will help those who will sign up. Investors will be able to follow their journey and invest towards their success. The platform enables everyone to have the opportunity to invest in an emerging creative and earn as they succeed.
“The ACE platform is like the stock market for emerging talent, and just like any stock market, we wish to bring in investors looking to invest in the creatives looking to reach new levels,” said Darren. This leads to the core mission of ACE: to break down economic and socio-demographic barriers, empowering the community to confidently invest in the entertainment space.
According to the company, the platform will enable fractional buying, which will see even those with as much as only Sh100 are able to invest in their selected talents. Creatives are able to reach the company through their website (ace.fan) or through their social media accounts. As more creatives join the platform, they expect that through their recommendations more will be inclined to follow in their footsteps and enjoy the benefits.
In Kenya, the entertainment sector is booming as millions have invested in the likes of streaming services and in acquiring data bundles and data services that are able to accommodate these services. Henceforth, the platform gives the population an opportunity not just to view and consume this entertainment but be able to participate and invest in it and at the end of the day be able to earn yields from it. This will not only help a majority have an additional revenue stream but it will also assist the creatives to succeed further.
To be able to invest in a creative through the platform, one will have to start as a fan through registration on their website. Once registered, you will be able to follow the activities of the creatives already on ACE as well as their prices. If you wants to invest, you will have to upgrade to a fanvestor account. The upgrade will be through a direct purchase model. Instead of first loading money to the exchange, the platform allows you to directly send money from either M-Pesa for the case of East Africa or debit and credit cards to acquitted shares in talent. The purchased shares are kept track of on a secured, decentralized ledger.
“Once the shares are acquired, they are held in a digital wallet on ACE for the user, who then can sell or buy from other users on the platform to earn returns,” said Darren. Despite expanding, the company has faced a number of challenges in its journey. For instance, the platform has considered the issue of charges for fanvestors when moving funds from their respective payment systems a menace it would want to get rid off. Due to every jurisdiction having its own different payment systems, the charges are expected to vary as some investors will be forced to higher charges than others.
On the other hand, the company has also identified currency fluctuations as another challenge as when changing money from one currency to another, the value may greatly vary. An example is that of Zimbabwe where the local currency once almost became worthless. This would mean that if creatives in the country were to receive investment in a local currency, its purchasing power could be greatly reduced over time.
Finally, ACE has identified education and empowerment a top challenge. Whether it be explaining the benifits of a creative incorporating a company, or informing fans that there is now an accessable investment platform in to the entertainment sector, ACE is constantly closing gaps and delivering informative content on both ace.fan and IG’s @realfanvestor.
The ACE platform looks to bring awareness on the potential that creatives have not only in enriching culture but also acting as an investment vehicle that is able to change the lives of many in the world. Having collaboration with major companies such as FIFA and institutions such as the Council on the Arts, the platform is expected to revolutionize the creatives sector. With COVID-19 still a menace, ACE platform is an immediate solution, with lasting benifits for all.