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Posted by on Jun 1, 2014 in Podcasts | 0 comments

DE 007: Funding your dream business overseas using other people’s money

DE 007: Funding your dream business overseas using other people’s money

One of the biggest perceived barriers to entry for aspiring destination entrepreneurs is money. This podcast is focused on ways you can get other people to pay for the costs of pursuing your dream business overseas.

Jodie Wu, of Global Cycle Solutions, is a good case study.  She has raised over $200,000 from grants and other awards, which she used to develop bicycle powered agricultural products and solar light distribution to rural communities around Arusha, Tanzania. She was named in BusinessWeek’s America’s Most Promising Entrepreneurs in 2010 and Forbes’ 30 under 30 in Science and Technology in 2011.  She is also a Global TED fellow and has won money from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology 100k challenge, as well as grants from Echoing Green and the Gates Foundation.

She credits much of her success to the first grant she won, which gave her the credibility to start winning other grants and fellowships, as well as allowing her to scrape together enough money to get started.  In Jodie’s own words ‘I wouldn’t be here today without the grant funding I received’.

School children with solar lights from Global Cycle Solutions

School children in Arusha, Tanzania, with solar lights from Global Cycle Solutions


  • How Jodie has secured over $200,000 in free money
  • The techniques Jodie used to win her first grant
  • Why winning that first grant gives you momentum to win more free money
  • The importance of free money from grants and/or competitions while you are experimenting with business models
  • The advantage you gain from experimenting in the field with your products/services before applying for grants and/or business plan competitions
  • Why Tanzanians think Jodie has kung fu moves, and why you should get Jodie to help you with your visa applications
  • The value of learning the local language (in this case Swahili) and the edge this gives her with managing her team
Bicycle powered maize shelling machine

Bicycle powered maize shelling machine


  • Global Cycle Solutions Tanzania – Jodie’s company in Tanzania
  • Startup Chile – the program in Chile which provides $40,000 to dozens of entrepreneurs per year
  • D-Lab – The MIT lab building a global network of innovators to design and disseminate technologies that meaningfully improve the lives of people living in poverty
  • – the organization that has a successful water pump (treadle pump) and has manufacturing in Arusha, where Jodie is based
  • Arusha – the town Jodie lives within Tanzania
  • MIT 100k challenge – the business plan contest that Jodie won with Global Cycle Solutions
  • Echoing Green – a $60k fellowship that is given to 20 entrepreneurs each year who want to change the world
  • Gates Foundation – The foundation started by Bill and Melinda Gates which provided funding to Jodie’s organisation

You can find Jodie on Facebook, Twitter and TED

Jodie at her office with the solar products she sells

Jodie at her office with the solar products she sells



Climbing Kilimanjaro

Jodie climbing Kilimanjaro


  • There are a huge number of business plan competitions for almost any conceivable niche business sector you could think of.
  • Countries like Chile and Brazil have programs that will pay you money and introduce you to investors and partners if you start a business in their country
  • There many privately funded incubators which will often take equity in your business in return for helping you with investment and management support. Big multi-nation incubators include Rocket Internet and Founder Institute.  You will find others if you search for ‘incubators’ or ‘startup incubator programs’ in the country you are interested in moving to.
  • Crowdfunding can be a great option depending on how good your idea is and how you pitch it.  For example, these guys raised $400,000 – which was 7 times the amount of money they needed – for a gravity powered light.   These guys raised an amazing $73,045 by selling knitted hats.  So, basically, where there is a will there is a way, but most crowd funding sites won’t let you raise money for things like alcohol (sorry bar owners!). 
  • This pub in Minnesota (not a destination enterprise, but I am stealing their idea) had the phenomenal idea of getting customers to prepay for services in order to get the startup capital they needed.  They asked customers to prepay $1000 to receive unlimited beer for life.

What our useful or creative funding ideas have you used to get yourself stated?  Share below.


Click here to download the transcript for Destination Entrepreneurs Episode 7

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