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 These concerns, while not completely unfounded, are outdated.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
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
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:
Is microfinance really all it’s been hyped up to be?
What happens if you simply give people free cash?
How can we measure impact in this area, given that we’re looking for long-term results?
What does the actual evidence say about Universal Basic Income?
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