Unique crowd-sourcing campaign combines micro-financing and food

By Qi Xijia Source:Global Times Published: 2017/1/16 18:53:39

Shanghai's cosmopolitan community offers many diverse projects and creative partnerships as it transforms itself into China's premier innovation hub. Joining the pack, a new crowd-funding project, Shanghai Soup, was launched last week to help smaller projects obtain funding.

Established by Matthew Hollas and David Wellstead, two Englishmen living and working in Shanghai, the project is based on the hugely successful Detroit Soup model, a micro-granting dinner event first launched in Detroit in 2010 that funds creative projects.

Shanghai Soup is quite a unique idea in China's fundraising scene, combining micro-financing, networking and sustainable food, something that according to the founders has not yet been done in Shanghai. It also endeavors to bring together like-minded talent to consider participating in or donating to small projects which otherwise might have been overlooked.

Attendees pay 50 yuan ($7.25) at the door to enjoy a bowl of soup while listening to four 4-minute presentations from speakers. Whichever idea gets the most votes from diners takes all the money collected at the door to help fund their project.

The soup itself is sourced from local suppliers and restaurants utilizing food that would otherwise be thrown away (due to overstocking or cosmetic damage). Spiced pumpkin, potato, leek and turnip mixed with vegetables, beef stock and pasta are prepared by a small team of dedicated volunteer foodies.

After six weeks of preparation, the first Shanghai Soup raised over 3,450 yuan. "This is not a lot, but it's enough to make a difference," Hollas told the Global Times after the event.

China and beyond

With a Master's degree in project management, Hollas' day job is teaching on business accounting and law programs at Shanghai University of International Business and Economics. He teamed up with Wellstead, who holds a Master's in biogeochemistry, to put together a website, locate a venue and find food suppliers.

"It showed how supportive the community is in such a short period of time that we can put together something like this," said Wellstead, who added that compared with the Detroit model, which is much more localized, Hollas and Wellstead are trying to use their platform to appeal to other regions across China and even other countries.

"Shanghai is one of the most international cities in China and we'd like to engage people who have all sorts of small start-up businesses and projects, whatever their scope and reach beyond Shanghai," said Wellstead.

Working on a first-come first-served basis, innovators can submit their ideas online at http://shanghaisoup.org/soup-idea.php for consideration. On this evening, contenders included a Laughter Yoga program, a collective action against sexual assault, an orphan school in Kenya and a local author's literacy program. At the end of voting, Alan Coyne and his orphan school project took the pot.

From 2008 Coyne spent five years in Kenya volunteering and working with local NGOs and with US and UK foreign aid programs. There he established and managed an orphan (OVC) school project for 244 children.

"I think this is one of the most innovative NGO micro-funding projects I've seen," said Coyne. "Not only do the charities benefit but the participants get an almost free delicious meal and educative presentations with a great social networking opportunity."

"In the last nine months we fund-raised for and built a new senior primary school in Kenya. We believe our children deserve a secondary education so we now aim to build a secondary school. This funding will be used towards that," he added.

In March, Shanghai Soup will be holding their second event with the theme of women's rights and equality.

Diners at the first Shanghai Soup fundraiser

Diners at the first Shanghai Soup fundraiser

David Wellstead, Matthew Hollas and Alan Coyne at fundraiser

David Wellstead, Matthew Hollas and Alan Coyne at fundraiser

Wellstead preparing soup. Photos: Qi Xijia/GT

Wellstead preparing soup

Photos: Qi Xijia/GT


Newspaper headline: Shanghai Soup


Posted in: METRO SHANGHAI

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