Zain Ashraf Mughal graduated from the University of Miami in 2011 and returned to Pakistan armed with a goal to do good for the world.
“Charity is a main part of my religion,” he said. Not only was he faithfully bound to helping others, he figured pairing technology with charity would be a good use of his newly minted degree.
Mughal founded an online crowdfunding platform, called Seed Out, which directly connects donors with potential entrepreneurs in Pakistan. It took him two years’ production time to establish this non-profit organization, but eventually he was off and running with a small staff (that has since grown to ten employees)
“It’s amazing how much just a little bit of money can transform someone’s life,” he said during a recent visit back to the University of Miami.
Seed Out at a glance: A person in Pakistan would like to start his own small scale business let’s say a small grocery store in his neighborhood. He has the skills and experience to run his own business but does not have adequate resources to do so. This is where Seed Out can help. Instead of providing cash to the potential entrepreneur, Seed Out establishes the business for him. Through its easy-to-use crowdfunding platform, donors from all over the world can directly crowd fund the micro-entrepreneur’s project. The idea is to enable the entrepreneur to run and sustain his own business by himself. Once the business is up and running, the entrepreneur pays off Seed Out in easy installments without any interest until the original funding is paid back in full. The money collected from the entrepreneur is used for funding other projects and the cycle of empowering people continues.
Seed Out’s interest free microfinancing process prioritizes that donated funds go to the right place. “I saw the need for people to have transparency where they donate. Too often you give, and you don’t really know where your money’s going,” he says.
Developed while Mughal was a student in the School of Business Entrepreneurial Program, the platform is designed to keep donors abreast of what’s happening with their money through every part of the process – donors even get updates as the entrepreneur moves forward with his or her business. Most of its donors come from England, the U.S., and Pakistan. Since 2011, Mughal has raised funds for 160 entrepreneurs.
His family has owned their own business since 1979, and Mughal saw the opportunities in the diverse culture and quality education at UM.
“I thought UM was the complete package of everything I was looking for in a school,” he says.
Ultimately, Mughal’s goal is to expand SeedOut to India, other countries in Asia, and Africa.
On his time at UM, Mughal said, “This is the place that made me who I am.”