For Doriel Fonseca, life is like a game of basketball. When he’s not working on his crowdfunding platform, Doriel Fonseca is playing basketball just like he did growing up. His startup, Deya Mais, launched in September and is Angola’s first crowdfunding platform. Like GoFundMe and Kickstarter, Deya aims to bring people with ideas to people who are willing to fund them. Doriel first heard about crowdfunding in 2014 when he read an article about it on a website. Afterwards, he spent time trying to understand it by googling and watching YouTube videos.

The idea to start Deya came to Doriel in February 2017 after being laid off from his second job as a software developer. All though he didn’t really need the job he found himself with a lot of free time. He wanted to create something that could help people. “I have a lot of friends who are in the startup community in Angola and they were saying they have a lot of problems raising money, I was just trying to solve my friends’ problems,” Doriel says. Similar to his journey of creating Deya, the road to the fellowship was just as abrupt. “I don’t really know much about business, that’s one of the reasons I’m here to tell you the truth. A few months in, I saw an ad on Facebook for the Mandela Fellowship and I just applied and now I’m here today!”

Like any startup, Deya has faced its share of challenges. “The main issue that I’m having is I’m trying to teach people what crowdfunding is, because it’s a new concept in my country,” Doriel says. Crowdfunding in the United States has become as normal as using Facebook or Twitter, but in many parts of western Africa the concept has no roots. “People don’t really understand, they don’t get what you’re trying to do, and they don’t really trust what you’re trying to do. Especially when you’re dealing with money.”

Funny enough, the pushback came from creators and innovators who believed that their idea should be protected. Once they shared those ideas, they felt that they would lose their profit even though Doriel already had people willing to invest. This initial setback and expected criticism of a new concept didn’t stop Doriel but made him more competitive. He tried a different approach. “Companies like Kickstarter and Indiegogo did it a certain way, and if I do it the same way people won’t understand it. African people have a different way of understanding and dealing with problems than other cultures and nations do,” Doriel explained.

Deya takes a much more hands on approach, partly because the concept is new but also to give creators the best chance at success. They not only vet every person who submits an idea, but work with them to present the best idea possible to potential investors. The approach paid off, since the launch Deya has helped three creators fully fund their projects. Doriel views this as his greatest success but isn’t quite ready to celebrate yet, “Angola is a really big country, our population is like thirty million, so I got three people out of thirty million, that’s nothing. There’s a lot more to explore in Angola, a lot more opportunities and more things we can do”.

In an effort expand his business, Doriel also looks for people with ideas himself. “Right now we are at the early stages, sometimes people come to us after seeing us online, but I will also go out and look for people. I try to go to as many companies as I can and I try to go to public places and talk about the startup, I go to schools, really anywhere I can go to explain the benefits of using this platform.”

The overall concept and end goal of Deya is to make sure that the startup is giving back to the community. In Portuguese slang Deya means “to give”, from the name to all the branding, Doriel wants the community to know that this is a gift to them. His startup is built for the long term with the future in mind. Deya aims to remove the dependency creators and innovators have on the government and wealthy people by giving a platform for other investors. “I’m one of those people that believe that if we’re not doing something to help the next generation then we’re not doing anything. I believe that this sort of platform, crowdfunding, is one of the things that can help a country grow. It’s the community doing something on its own that can actually create a better future for themselves.”

In the end, Doriel would like to see Deya serve more Angolans. Currently, they have only been targeting the capital city of Luanda but Doriel sees more opportunity beyond the city limits. While being an entrepreneur is difficult, even more so while introducing a foreign concept, Doriel doesn’t give up because seeing his platform help people makes it all worth it. “I want to see the results I imagine in my head, I want to see it become a reality. I now believe that’s possible through entrepreneurship.”

The dedication and perseverance Doriel has learned to have for this project is the result of mistakes, support from his family, his passion for Angola and basketball.  “I learned a lot about life through basketball, you could play a terrible game one day and my coach would yell at us, but the next day he’s coaching us again. That taught me at an early age that there’s always a new day. No matter what happens, tomorrow is a new day and you can start from scratch and try to be better. That’s the principle I have for my life and my business.”