What is Village X in a nutshell?We are a democracy NGO. We fund projects village choose. We disrupt extreme poverty with data and direct giving.
What does the X in Village X Org stand for?It stands for harnessing eXponential technology (i.e., the Internet) to disrupt eXtreme poverty in a specific village.
What is Village X's secret sauce?A scalable, data-driven model that celebrates the capacity of local people to identify solutions that are not only technically feasible, but politically and culturally achievable. Locals also implement solutions faster and less expensively than outsiders.
Why did you start Village X?We need a new approach to development in Africa, where extreme poverty is growing in the rural areas. In our world of plenty, no human being should live in extreme poverty. Victory over extreme poverty depends on the emergence of organizations that deliver targeted financing to remote places, at scale, with ruthless efficiency.
How big is the problem?Massive. Almost 400 million people (and growing) live in extreme poverty in rural sub-Saharan Africa.
Why is now the right time for a nonprofit like Village X?Technology and donor demand for transparent giving experiences. Thanks to the expansion of mobile phones and international banking, and the popularity of crowdfunding, we can raise donations for a community-led nursery school in Malawi and immediately see live picture updates of the project underway. We like to say, "money in and data out."
Are you trying to solve all of Africa's problems?Not by a long shot. Governance is a foundational problem in much of Africa. Overcoming that challenge requires a willingness among American and European policymakers to reduce or cease development assistance to corrupt governments. We try to disrupt extreme poverty in rural areas. We focus on villages because that's where democracy works.
Why should I donate to Village X Org?Two reasons: (1) the cause is noble -- extreme poverty in Africa is one of the biggest injustices of our time; and (2) our model works (see our Impacts page).
Why should a village participate?Because local people possess the motivation, expertise, and vision to improve their communities. What they lack are a voice in international development and a reliable source of investment funds. Our donors invest to complement cash and in-kind contributions from villages.
How big is a village?A typical village is around 100 to 200 households and 500 to 1000 people.
Aren't villages corrupt?Some are, yes. But village chiefs are typically far less corrupt than officials at the city, district, or national level. There's a lot of interpersonal accountability at the village level. To discourage corruption and encourage thoughtful project choices, we require each village to provide a sizable cash contribution for each project. When people contribute their hard-earned money, for a project in their backyards, they are much less likely to tolerate corruption.
What happens if the village doesn't use donated money as expected?If villages or their representatives misuse donated money, they sever their relationship with Village X and jeopardize the cash they have contributed to the project. In addition, Village X will report the indiscretion to the broader development community.
How are you different from GiveDirectly?We're big fans of GiveDirectly, which transfers cash to low-income households in Kenya and Uganda. Village X takes a different approach, transfering cash to entire villages for public good projects. We take this approach because it's much cheaper than transfering cash to households and solves a collective action problem that persists when cash is transfered to households (in other words, households having money is a necessary but not sufficient condition for the provision of public goods).
Do you store my credit card info?Absolutely not. Your credit card info is maintained by payment processor Stripe.
Are my donations tax deductible?100%. Village X is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit. Our official name is Friends of Village X Inc, and our EIN is 47-1845825.
Can I give to more than one project?Absolutely. You can give to as many projects as you want, as often as you want. We'll keep all the details straight.
Can I donate to a US-based project?No. We totally understand why you would want to give to local charities, but we have a focused mandate to disrupt extreme poverty in the only place where it's growing -- rural sub-Saharan Africa.
How can I track my donations?When you donate, we send you a thank you email. Once the project is underway, we email you picture updates from the field. You can also subscribe to our newsletter. In the future, we will add user profiles to the website.
Is the website integrated with social media?Absolutely. You can share projects and donations through Facebook and Twitter.
How does Village X keep the lights on?Village X retains 10% of each donation for operational expenses, such as vetting projects and improving the website. About 10% of each donation goes to banks for credit card and money transfer fees (we're working hard to reduce this percentage). At least 80% of your donation goes to villages for direct project costs like cement, timber, and roofing sheets. That percentage is very high for the industry.
What's your end game for Village X?Scale. We want to disrupt extreme poverty for almost 400 million people (and growing) in rural sub-Saharan Africa. Our technology and light footprint make that possible. We also want to answer three research questions: (1) what do villages want?; (2) why do villages choose certain projects over others?; and (3) what's the quantitative impact per dollar of funding village-led projects?