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Intro to Economic Empowerment: Why Entrepreneurs are Crucial

Think blockchain is disrupting the private sector? You should see what's going on in the social sector.

Just putting it out there: tech entrepreneurs are incredibly well placed to explore interventions in economic empowerment. Perhaps more so than any other group of philanthropists.

Bold statement, we know. But hear us out.

A concern we often face when talking about social problems, whether to charity skeptics or pledgers, is that the charity world is inherently inefficient and bureaucratic. These concerns, while not completely unfounded, are outdated.

New technology changes the scope of charity impact

Technology Innovation Charity

It's true: the history of poverty-alleviating aid is somewhat rocky. But we’ve also seen massive paradigm changes in the last decades.

We’ve seen the emergence of economic empowerment as a dynamic field, and the basis of some of the most interesting research and experimentation being done in the charity sector right now.

This is partly thanks to the opportunities new technologies are creating: if you think tech innovations like blockchain are disrupting the private sector, just wait til you see what it’s doing in the social sector.

Social missions are driving innovation

Some of the most exciting technology innovations and deployments we’re currently seeing, are being made with a social mission. And this includes the private sector. In fact, our resident tech advisor has written a piece on the top 8 startups championing financial inclusion.

Don't believe the hype

Fintech to fight poverty

All this said, we don't want to perpetuate the sensationalism that often surrounds technology news. When it comes to complex social issues, any solution will be multifaceted: there is no silver bullet.

This is especially important to stress when it comes to economic empowerment, because microfinance has for many years been talked about almost as a one-size-fits-all, ‘win-win’ solution to poverty. (Hint: it's not)

Rather than getting carried away by the grand potential of new technologies, we must look for implementations that are evidence driven and nuanced.

This is why entrepreneurs make great philanthropists

As entrepreneurs and investors you are extremely well placed to support evidence-driven charities because, whether you know it or not, you’re already using a lot of the same methodologies in your own work.

You can appreciate the importance of concepts like scalability and market fit, and how data analysis fits into it all. For more on what we mean by this, have a read through the Founders Pledge approach to Philanthropy.

It’s time to get excited about economic empowerment. Not only are there seriously interesting discoveries being made in the area; it’s also a fields where we can realistically make massive strides within our lifetime.

Get involved with economic empowerment

As we spend the next few months exploring questions like:

Learn more

Watch the educational talks from our London event 'The Price of Economic Empowerment'.

And last but not least, subscribe to our monthly newsletter, where we share news at the intersection of entrepreneurship, investment, and social impact:

Originally published on 9 April 2017



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