How many of us wish we could have been early investors in Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, or Venmo?  Interestingly, much of the most dynamic growth for social media players over the next 5 years will come from developing countries.  While social media growth stagnates in the United States at about 2% per year, less developed countries are growing at an annual rate of 13%.  At the same time, shocking levels of poverty and disparity persist.  What if there was a social platform that provided relevant content and connections to communities in the world’s developing countries just as their access to 3G phones and data is becoming affordable and widespread?  

Enter mPowered Development -- poised to engage the world’s developing communities and connect them to their global neighbors, through micro-philanthropy and relevant social media engagement.  Our platform, mPowered, is a web-based application and a community of project owners, donors, and service providers with 3 primary value propositions:  

  • We enable the world’s poorest communities to create and post fundable projects, written in their own words and defined on their own terms.  
  • We facilitate a more compelling giving experience through real-time communications and social engagement between individual donors and their beneficiaries.
  • We leverage existing and emerging technology to create a market-based approach to international development that has greater sustainability, transparency, and efficiency.

Traditional models of international aid and charitable giving are inefficient, opaque, and broken. Beneficiary communities are rarely consulted about what they actually need, which creates a disempowered and dependent dynamic.  But that hasn’t stopped people from giving; last year, individual Americans donated a combined $23 billion to international causes, more than the entire budget of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).  

At mPowered Development, we have spent the past year laying the groundwork for a new kind of social media platform that will appeal to hundreds of millions of people, both in developing communities and in the U.S. We are targeting 20 developing countries with high levels of poverty and increasing internet access where a revolutionary social media and direct funding platform can empower communities to share their needs and secure small-scale, sustainable funding to improve their lives.  In these 20 countries, there will be nearly 750 million users within 5 years.  

By providing a more effective, efficient, and engaged model of connection over social media tools we already use, we believe we can build a vibrant user community of benevolence that would eagerly choose to use our platform to contribute to supporting the ideas of communities in developing countries.  In the process, we will be serving up compelling, real-life content about challenges faced by disadvantaged communities; feel-good stories of improved lives and evident impact; and capture a high volume of small-percentage fees to support the financial transaction process. 

There are already many NGOs that allow benevolent Americans to give online to charities, causes, and campaigns.  What ChangeFunder will provide for the first time is the ability to allow communities themselves to post their project ideas, have them validated by third parties, and then connect over social media with a community of potential supporters.  All the while, creating an ever-growing content base of cause- and location-related stories and associated media that can be filtered depending on what a particular user about.

Our plan is not one that relies on building just another social media platform; if it were that easy, it would have been done before.  What this initiative requires is a deep understanding of international development, community engagement, and appropriate technology.  Our team’s experience in this combination of expertise will allow us to get to market swiftly to prove the concept.