Any fundraiser will tell you that the toughest part of their job, apart from raising awareness for their cause, is convincing people to donate – with the physical payment mechanisms being some of the main barriers. The ShortBlackMocca team is working hard to make the donating process easier, more efficient and fun.
Alasdair Muller and Chris Masters have a lot in common. They both hail from the media environment and they are both passionate about doing something to save our Rhinos. Like many of us, their awareness of the plight of this magnificent animals rhino was high, but they were not sure how or where to contribute. They, in addition, wanted to do more than making a once-off donation: they wanted to make a significant difference.
The software application craze made them think.
‘Billions of Apps have been downloaded globally. People are downloading everyday, meaning they are clearly comfortable with making purchases over the Apple and Android App platforms. To us that seemed to be the perfect mechanism to accept payments for good causes,’ says Masters.
Working from a crude sketch Muller had drawn on a serviette, the two began brainstorming the concept that would evolve into the Rhino Hero App. The game, which received the stamp of approval by the Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT), revolves around Zama the Rhino and his quest to stomp out the attack on his species – one poachers’ camp at a time.
Half of the net profit for Rhino Hero will be donated on a quarterly basis to the Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT). This includes profit made from the sales of merchandise, game sales, in-app purchases and all promotions. This is necessary: Rhino poaching in South Africa has reached crisis levels over the past years. As per last week, the teller stood at 501 dead Rhinos of which 14 were killed last week alone. Last year, poachers killed 448 Rhinos for their horns.
Passion and a drive was not enough to develop the App, Muller recalls: ‘You have to know where your strengths lie, Chris and I are strong on the sales, media and creative concepts side but we knew nothing about developing an App or how to make it look good. We needed someone to compliment our skills and who could take our ideas and make them a reality.’
The duo reached out to Nicola Brits and Quentin DeBruyn to assist them with the graphic design and application development. The four formalised their relationship by founding software development company ShortBlackMocca (Pty) Ltd early this year.
The firm’s aim is to create Apps for clients that cater to today’s tech savvy consumers who need convenient ways to shop, bank and be entertained. The entity has a strong social entrepreneurial vision and aims to make a significant philanthropic difference by building socially conscious Apps for established good causes.
The Rhino Hero App is a good example.
It took them eight months to develop the App, with the entire team donating their time and skills growing from the basic wire framework, carefully selecting each colour and each subtle nuance of the game. On 18 October 2012, Zama finally made his debut on the Apple iTunes South African store. In barely a month, Rhino Hero has hit number 21 on the South African top downloads list.
The Rhino Hero team did their homework when choosing which cause to support. ‘It is important to us to support causes that are taking physical action to stop these poachers in their tracks,’ Masters says, explaining why they partnered up with the EWT. In exchange of the funds, the organisation allows ShortBlackMocca to decide where the money will be spent – from training more sniffer dogs to increasing the number of anti-poaching units.
When it comes to advising aspiring social entrepreneurs, the ShortBlackMocca team has some solid tips. ‘The best advice we can give is to choose a cause you’re really passionate about,’ says Masters.
‘It doesn’t have to be a topical cause but it must be something you feel strongly about because you will spend a lot of time and effort working for this cause. If you don’t believe in it wholeheartedly, you are likely to give up.’
Muller agrees. ‘You don’t have to be held back by lack or skills or money. Focus on bringing a strong team of skilled people together who will get the job done with you. Oh, and you don’t have to give up your day job, in fact it helps to start from a position of security. We’re lucky in that our bosses are excited and supportive of what we’re trying to achieve – as long as we still achieve what we need to do during the day!’
Their parting bit of advice is to always keep an open mind and don’t take things too seriously and ‘always remember to enjoy the ride.’
- By Lindsay Grubb (Photo: Miriam Mannak)