Our Model

Step by Step

Step 1:

Identify an extreme poverty village in a rural area, using local knowledge and poverty maps.
Step 2:

Call a village meeting to explain our "village choice" model and offer a longterm partnership.
Step 3:

Listen as the community identifies its biggest development challenges and locally appropriate solutions.
Step 4:

Wait for the village's project committee to propose a project, write a budget, and raise the required cash contribution.
Step 5:

Raise additional financing for the project from individuals, schools, companies, and partner NGOs.
Step 6:

Immediately deploy funds, start the project, and share multimedia project updates with donors.
Step 7:

Complete the project (usually within one month after deploying funds) and mark the occasion with a ceremony.
Step 8:

Rigorously measure and share impact data with donors to evaluate how the project made a difference.
Step 9:

Monitor the project over time based on community feedback and multimedia updates.
Step 10:

Repeat steps 3 - 9 for 10 years, one project per year, as communities disrupt extreme poverty.

Sustainable and Scalable

To acheive sustainability, we collect 10% of every project donation to cover adminstrative costs (e.g., improving our technology). On an average project, villages receive about $3,000, while Village X receives 10%, about the same amount consumed by credit card and money transfer fees.* That's a vast improvement over the industry standard, where a small fraction of donated money reaches the ground. Village X will reach financial sustainability crowdfunding about 500 projects per year (roughly $2 million in revenue).

*money transfer fees include explicit fees and unfavorable exchange rate conversions
Donations Breakdown (%)

To acheive scalabilty, we keep costs low and recruit local field officers -- educated young men and women with smartphones and a passion for community development. A single field officer covers up to 50 villages a year, using local transportation to reach up to 70,000 people. We can finance projects in every extreme poverty village in Malawi for only $10 to $20 million per year, depending on the mix of projects chosen by villages. That's a sliver of the $1 billion in overseas development assistance received by Malawi annually.

field officers*


needed to cover Malawi with our light footprint approach

*paid per project completed

Pilot Findings*

projects completed within 1 month of funding

on average, projects cost half the NGO price

villages contributed $4,000

hundreds of updates posted by villages

*based on 21 projects in 14 villages, spanning 2014 to 2016

Three Things We Want To Learn

What do villages want? Let's put extreme poverty villages on the map and reveal their project preferences.
Why do villages choose certain projects over others? Let's build models that predict projects villages will chose and use that information to better match development resources with local preferences.
What's the quantitative impact per dollar of funding village-led projects? Let's figure out when village-led projects add the most development bang per buck and, conversely, where the cost of outside experise is justified.

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