Extreme poverty is growing ONLY in rural sub-Saharan Africa, afflicting nearly 400 million people. Debates about the primary cause (bad governance) often miss a key insight: while corruption festers in many African capitols, democracy thrives in rural villages. Extreme poverty communities excel at identifying local development solutions that are technically feasible, and politically and culturally achievable.
Symptoms of Extreme Poverty
lack of clean water
poor educational infrastructure
Build and deploy technology that disrupts extreme poverty at scale by mapping the problem, crowdfunding the response, deploying cash, and reporting impact. Our data show that annual transfers of small amounts of cash directly to villages, for development projects of their choosing, generate big development impacts per dollar spent. Additionally, extreme poverty alleviation facilitates bottom-up democratization by liberating large rural populations from the grip of ruling-party patronage politics. Hacking poverty and politics together bolsters the stickiness of hard-fought development gains.
Deploy financing and retrieve data for development projects chosen and implemented by thousands of extreme poverty villages within a country or region in sub-Saharan Africa.
Share data to inform and coordinate the work of governments, international agencies, and NGOs committed to disrupting extreme poverty in sub-Saharan Africa. Work together to democratize development.
A confluence of recent trends presents a unique opportunity to support community-driven development at scale: (1) strong donor demand for direct giving experiences; (2) myriad digital channels to move money within and across borders; and (3) proliferating telecommunications within rural Africa.
Signs of Extreme Poverty Disruption
community water wells
Mike Buckler is the CEO and General Counsel of Village X.
After returning from Peace Corps Malawi in late 2008, Mike began searching for ways to improve development work in sub-Saharan Africa. In his spare time, he served as a board member and grants coordinator for Friends of Malawi (FOM), a non-profit formed by Returned Peace Corps Volunteers. Village X arose from grantmaking experimentation at FOM -- in particular, issuing grants to grassroots organizations and using Facebook pages to track outcomes.
Before serving as an education volunteer in Malawi, Mike received a JD from Duke and BS in Electrical Engineering from Cornell. He recently received a MPP from Princeton.
Mike enjoys writing books and articles inspired by his international experiences and bicycling on dusty roads in Africa.
Jeff DePree supervises the development of the Village X website, database, and associated backend processes.
When not working on Village X, he builds websites and apps for growing communities and sharing resources. Whilst in Peace Corps Sierra Leone, he put together rpcvs.com to connect returned Peace Corps volunteers around the world.
Jeff is a vocal advocate for outdoor adventure, travel, and carpooling, and founded Adventure Anywhere to make it easier to identify opportunities for getting outdoors.
Jesse is Village X’s CFO and is passionate about leveraging innovative tools to address poverty, spur local development, and improve environmental sustainability.
After graduating from Amherst College and spending much of his career in finance, Jesse served as a Fulbright Scholar in Hong Kong and returned to graduate school at Columbia University to pursue his passion. He has worked for USAID’s Development Credit Authority (DCA) since 2015, now as the Head of the unit’s Africa credit guarantee portfolio. Jesse has also worked for Closed Loop Partners, an impact investment firm that invests in the circular economy.
Coming from a family of cooks and bakers, Jesse is dedicated to empowering emerging chefs while also tackling food waste issues, having collaborated with innovative non-profit and for-profit culinary and food sustainability organizations. In his free time, Jesse enjoys cooking and exploring DC with his wife and son, and has developed a passion for making the perfect pizza.
Katherine Raynor is a dedicated volunteer to Village X, helping to promote the organization in various capacities.
During her Peace Corps service in Malawi, Katherine was invited to participate in multiple Village X activities by her friend and counterpart, Myson Jambo. Through these activities, including many visits to village projects, she saw the power the Village X model has to create real change. Having lived in four countries, on three different continents over the course of her life, she had never been very impressed by the international development work she had seen. However, the ethical, effective, and data driven work that Village X is doing, caught not only her attention, but her heart and mind in a way that nothing else has.
Currently, Katherine teaches Human Services in the Sociology Department at the State University of New York at New Paltz. When she's not working or volunteering, she might be found hiking in the mountains, or camping on the beach.
Blantyre and Zomba Districts
Myson Jambo is from the Zomba District of Malawi. He holds an advanced degree in public health, for which he wrote his research paper on the impact of urbanization on human health in peri-urban areas. He has several years of experience working with NGOs in the area of programming at the community level, including vetting and facilitating projects, youth engagement programming, peer mentoring, monitoring and evaluation, meeting with government officials and other stakeholders, managing and administering finances, and responding to community concerns/offering assistance where needed.
He also volunteered to approve proposals from other organizations and collected projects records for one year with Friends of Malawi. He spent another year conducting health and hygiene trainings and small loans management with the Association for Rural Community Development.
He believes that communities having the power to decide on projects is the key to successes in development efforts. When he is not working, Myson enjoys traveling and watching football with his favorite team, Manchester United.
Alfred is a primary school teacher and takes classes at Catholic University in pursuit of a degree in geography and social work.
Based in the Mulanje District in Southern Malawi, his specialties are civic education, organising task forces to run projects, monitoring and evaluation, and promoting community service. His passion is changemaking in village.
In his free time, he likes watching soccer, chatting with friends and traveling to new places
Wedson is the second born son from a family of five. He is from Rumphi District in Northern Malawi. Wedson is a government teacher by profession and has completed a diploma in community development. He's also a poultry and pig farmer.
Wedson likes to volunteer. He has volutneered in various primary schools as a teacher and at Nkhota-kota Community Organization. He and a friends also provide school fee payments for two orphaned children from his poor community.
Wedson Kondowe believes that taking part in developmental activities is one way of reducing poverty in communities. In his free time, Wedson likes traveling around his community, reading books, and listening to country music.
Macford is from the Mangochi District of Malawi. He holds an advanced certificate in tropical agriculture and a certificate in primary school teaching.
He has attended courses in spraying services, grain storage, and grading management. Macford has several years of experience working with NGOS, local leaders and stakeholders. In this capacity, he has worked on project programming and implementation, leadership and conflict management, monitoring and evaluation, and report writing.
Benard Dickson holds a MSCE (secondary schoool certificate) and has worked with several deveopment organiaations, including Development Aid from People to People (DAPP) and the Tiwasunge Community Support Organization (TICOSO). Benard has also volunteered as a peer educator, field officer, M&E officer, and programs coordinator. Benard is passionate about HIV/AIDS prevention, good governance, and self reliance.
In his spare time, he likes to watch football and chat with youth.