[This article was written by Alex Hayes and originally published by Mosaic.]
The largest successful crowdfunding campaign in history just raised over $200 million, from 3,800 backers, for an ambitious project to build the tallest skyscraper in Colombia. The BD Bacatá is a skyscraper funded on the Prodigy Network, a crowdfunding platform. Once complete, the 1.2 million square foot skyscraper will be 66-stories high, featuring a 364-room hotel, apartments, as well as retail and office space. Located in Bogotá, Colombia, the project was funded entirely by ordinary Colombians, each owning shares of the building, which is expected to open in 2015. Previously, the largest successful crowdfunding campaign generated $10.26 million from nearly 69,000 backers to fund the Pebble Watch.
According to Century 21 Elite Realty, although many platforms are only open to accredited investors — individuals earning over $200,000 per year, or with a total net worth of over $1 million — crowdfunding is beginning democratize finance. Rodrigo Nino, the Prodigy Network’s founder, is a strong believer that small investors should be able to participate in crowdfunding, including crowdfunded real estate. He is a proponent of the democratization of finance because it has the ability to eliminate elitism from investing. He exclaimed that by barring ordinary investors from the process it is, “telling the small investor to stick to small investments.” That said, because of United States regulations, Prodigy Network investments are not yet open to the general public.
Crowdsourcing continues to help ordinary people earn strong returns from investments as diverse as solar energy, startups, and real-estate. For example, some Prodigy Network investors have realized over 40% returns since purchasing shares in its real-estate portfolio — a portfolio that currently stands at over $600 million and includes 5,200 investors.