23Sep2018 Update: SEC has also issued an advisory on PhilCrowd. Read more here.
01Jun2018 Update: ICYMI, published my thoughts on the SEC Advisories on FarmOn and other crowdfunding. Caveat. Take care of your money. Be informed. Click here to know more.
05Aug2017 Update: We posted FarmOn updates on 15th cycle today. Couple of major changes, especially for new investors. Click here to be informed.
Note: As always, caveat emptor. I’m here to give you investment options (the more the better!) which as far as I know are legitimate, but I cannot guarantee the returns for you. Sorry. Conduct your own due diligence. Aral muna bago invest ha.
Since we published 2017 Investment Options to Consider, we’ve been getting many and various inquiries especially on FarmOn and PhilCrowd. So here’s a few more updates.
First things first. Caveat emptor. As of this writing, we have small preliminary investments in both. In Cropital, none as of now. Have we gained anything? None so far, we just started! Have we tried to withdraw money from our earnings? Not yet since we just started! So let me just share with you the limited information I got so far.
PhilCrowd is a crowdfunding platform registered as a cooperative launched last year (so it’s still young, learning, adjusting and expanding). It invests in various businesses, may it be franchises, farms, it even has investments with FarmOn for crops. Like a mutual fund or UITF, it pools funds from retail investors (from the coop members) and once a “fund” is fully funded, the business linked to the fund starts its operations. It’s like you and your friends pooling your savings to buy that dream franchise. This time, it’s open to many investors.
As of this writing, fully funded businesses are cacao farm, free range chicken, Potato Corner, express pay and mushroom farm. Several batch 2 crowdfunding is ongoing. Potato Corner is in batch 2. Meanwhile, 7-11 and Andoks are both 50% funded as of today.
Lifetime membership is PHP2,500, there are smaller funds like Baby Funds or Easy Funds where you can invest as low as PHP5,000 and earn through dividends (if any) and grow with the cooperative as a whole. Juan also has a choice to invest in Super Funds, these are the bigger investments like I mentioned above: co-own an Andoks franchise, or a 7-11 etc. One slot is PHP25,000 but you can own as many slots as you like, the more slots, the bigger your share is in the profitability of such business. Again, the investments are pooled so there will be various owners for each franchised business. Once the business is fully funded, operations commence.
PhilCrowd shared with me their ROI guide, for your reference. Don’t forget to read the footnote! Note that since your money is invested in businesses, there are inherent business risks. Return is not guaranteed by PhilCrowd, there can be losses, and the ROI below are mere estimates from historical performance.
As these are businesses, the return on investments may take months to years, just like how it would be if you franchised on your own and invested a much bigger capital. One form of security though is that there are contracts executed for every placement you make.
Caveat emptor. This is not a solicitation to invest. We don’t accept investments in this site. We just lay out the various options out there. Want to know more? Here is the website of PhilCrowd. No worries, creating an account is free, browse through their websites and if you are convinced, pay the lifetime membership of PHP2,500 then start investing once you can. If not convinced, then at least you learned something new.
Profitable? Only time will tell.
FarmOn invests in farms, they have 6 as of the moment, 5 in Isabela and 1 in Quirino (up north). Compared to PhilCrowd, FarmOn is now entering its 13th Cycle as the planting to harvest cycle is much shorter (3 to 6 months, some within 10 months, etc). Investors (they call them FarmOners) get to choose between various crops such as banana, papaya, chili, fish ponds, piggery, melon, squash, mango and a whole lot more. (Sidenote: As we never got back to piggery from our first try, FarmOn is another chance at it!)
They even have an app! Below are images of their indicative ROI, where income is split 50-50 between FarmOner and FarmOn (which I hope makes FarmOn’s operations sustainable). Again, this just serves as guide and is no way guaranteed. For me, the appeal of FarmOn is the much shorter investment cycle (you can have multiple cycles per year) and the high expected ROI, even if you split it 50-50. Feedback from other FarmOners is that indeed, some reach at least the low end of the expected ROI range.
Membership to FarmOn has to pass through a referral, something they initiated recently, supposedly to help them educate and orient the prospective new members. Qualified referrors are those who completed at least 2 cycles and was profitable. (15th Cycle Update: Starting Cycle 15, no need for referrors. Interested investors may just sign up on their own once a new cycle opens).
We’ve read a few feedback on some delays reflecting the investments in the online accounts, or activating the newly enrolled accounts, difficulty in contacting their phone lines, or some who had a hard time withdrawing their money. While some are happy with the returns and were able to withdraw their money within a reasonable amount of time. I would think they are having operational challenges, given the overwhelming response, that is why there will be growth pains, especially since crowdfunding is transaction-heavy, documentations-heavy etc. Again, another form of security is the notarized contract for each placement you make.
Too good to be true?
I got this query twice, from a colleague and from our Ask Geri via email. I am willing to at least give this a try, but will not place a big amount of money, only something I can afford to lose. And once I recover my initial investment, I will pull it out and let the income do the work moving forward, compound on its own. One even asked, with such high ROI, why share it to the public? Why not monopolize funding these farms and enjoy the high ROI by themselves? I guess it’s faith-in-humanity restored type of thing? Or spread the risk, just like how Uber and AirBnB profits from being mere brokers of those who have the money and those who need the money (or cars or rooms for rent). Only time can tell but for those who profited already in the previous batches, congratulations to you!
Also, with the limited experience we had with farmers given our small farm, we have observed that farmers (at least those who own lands) are rich in properties, but are very illiquid. In terms of net worth, they are high positive, but very low in cash as they rely for cash inflow from one harvest to another. If typhoons damage their crops, lagot. As such, they are susceptible to selling or pawning their properties when there are emergency cash expenses, or they are forced to borrow from loan sharks, coops, rural banks etc, some of which charge exorbitant rates. They are forced to borrow just to have cash for daily needs, (since harvest is still months away) while some need cash just to start farming again (since harvest proceeds were used to pay multiple loans). So I guess with crowdfunding, it addresses the cash flow problem since they can go in with their usual farming cycles without shelling out so much cash, if any at all. And I hope they get better terms with FarmOn than with loan sharks too.
Again, aral muna bago invest ha. Let us know your thoughts! May we all have richer lives!
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Photos are from their websites.