Recently, I had the opportunity to explore social impact opportunities in the conservation, luxury fashion, and banking industries in Australia, Hong Kong, and the Philippines. However, what started as a focused trip on developing large social impact partners transformed into a reinvigorated understanding of poverty, people, and humanity’s hierarchy of needs.
Blockchain Can’t Solve That
After exploring the vibrant and developing social impact ecosystem of Manila, our team flew down to Cebu, a southern Philippine state. We ventured off to Inayawan Dump site to distribute goods to village people in the area, collaborating with Glory Reborn, a nonprofit that focuses on providing compassionate and holistic care to marginalized moms and babies within the region.
We trudged through garbage, polluted streams, and swarms of flies only to come to the conclusion that there was no distinction between the landfill and the village itself. Humanity’s hierarchy of needs became evident — food, health, and access to education far outweigh the novel use of cryptocurrency and blockchain alone.
But how could we better identify where technology could be useful in the supply chain to provide the most basic needs in a more efficient, transparent, and accountable way? Oftentimes local and federal government agencies fall short of providing the services impoverished communities need, simply due to resource and budgetary constraints (and occasionally due to for profit business models).
In this brief, I investigate which needs may be best attended to in ecosystems starved of every basic necessity, and foolishly attempt to answer the question, where does blockchain fit into this devastating reality?
Previous Proposals for Bounties Use
In an early proposal made by the Bounties Network, we explored the way in which blockchain-based bounties can reinvent our social impact systems and incentivize action across local networks of nonprofits (and even the affected community members). Advents like Bounties Network, which enable users (individuals and/or organizations) to offer a reward to accomplish a specific task on-chain, have the potential to decentralize charitable incentives for nonprofit entities by requiring a proof of action in exchange for donated funds.
Development of Economic Zones by Activating Community Partners
Partners Sharing a Platform
The most feasible strategy would be to ‘crowdfund’ resources in support of impoverished communities is to develop local partnerships between organizations that provide different services in the region. Intra-nonprofit communication is lacking within westernized and emerging economies alike. The non-standardization of aid cycles, education around the aid being provided, and programmatic expectations of the communities being serviced can create an inconsistent support experience for those attempting to form some sort of productive constancy in life.
We need to increase the commonality of social impact consortiums likeBlockchain for Social Impact at a local, working group level around the same platform of services. When stakeholders are aligned around a few set of communities (initially starting with one community), the hierarchy of needs of that society can be more consistently attended to. The issue with only disbursing food and water is that those needs only partially attend to community health discrepancies, and don’t attend to aspects of increased social mobility at all. Essentially, villages are kept in a pseudo-reliant state of social immobility, through which mere survival seems to be the glorified outcome.
The shared “platform” can be a standardization of aid cycles, the sharing of data across services to establish working identities for their clients, and even the standardization of aid education when services are rendered. Most likely however, these focuses will only truly align when funding is attached to co-dependent outcomes across nonprofits serving a similar area.
Co-dependent & Hyper Transparent Philanthropy
So what could this platform look like and how could Blockchain better attend to higher priority needs? To better align incentives across local nonprofits servicing a similar region of beneficiaries, co-dependent Bounties developed to efficiently coordinate collaborative & hyper-localized aid. By using payment mechanisms like DAI, nonprofits could receive their philanthropic rewards in a stable form of payment that is still beholden to an automated, escrow-like system, ensuring impact accountability for all organizational participants involved.
More accountable philanthropic disbursement across nonprofit consortiums servicing a locality can hopefully support better outcomes, empowering beneficiaries to climb out of poverty, rather than be supported during a life in it without end.
Developing these nonprofit consortiums by setting up co-dependent, locally focused bounties can potentially ensure
Hierarchy of needs are met by organizations that focus on different categories of aid (food, clothing, water, housing, internet, etc.)
Education is provided in tangent with aid, so that communities are left empowered and not dependent
Aid is hyper-local by requirement of the bounty
Incentives for Better Communities
Once the initial needs are met (food, clothing, water, & housing), providing better infrastructure for the use of Internet can be prioritized. When reliable Internet services are available in under-resourced communities, social entrepreneurs can attend to a different set of problems via blockchain-enabled, user applications.
Models like Service-Backed Tokens become more applicable, as you help beneficiaries learn how to manage their resources and lead their communities by individualizing the benefits of aid. Of course, many other models may fit the mold as well. Individualized bounties within under-resourced communities could work as well, where members are incentivized to keep their localities clean, etc. Of course, the user experience of applications that interface community members would need to be exceptionally intuitive, well tested, and well researched.
Start with Nonprofits First
In the end, we must admit that blockchain alone does nothing for those in need of food and clean water — at least not directly on a day to day basis. What it can do is facilitate better coordination around the strategic funding and disbursement of aid, by first attending to a community’s hierarchy of needs.
By focusing on various tiers of need in a co-dependent fashion, we may be able to include under-resourced communities into our collective vision of a decentralized, cashless, and service-based economy sooner than we think.