Grassroots nonprofit organizations, young local entrepreneurs from low-income communities, recent immigrants, and refugees - all have amazing ideas on how to improve their communities. From building inexpensive modular housing for refugees to low-cost peer-to-peer lending apps for recently unemployed single mothers. What they don't have are the 1) financial resources to bring these ideas to fruition and 2) the business expertise to scale and realize their vision.
Instead, when these impressive and brilliant individuals attempt to seek financial assistance or advice they are shunted to government and private foundation grants - a convoluted and inefficient process with a very low chance of success. Moreover, though a successful grant may fund a project in a low-income community, it delivers no business expertise to the grantee.
This means that hundreds of brilliant ideas to help communities (that could have succeeded with just a bit of money and some mentorship) go unrealized.
Meanwhile, as income inequality grows, many wealthy organizations, individuals and companies want to play a role in creating a more just and equitable world. Instead of donating to large non profits we believe the best way for these donors to make change is to accelerate the work of small grassroots NGO’s and entrepreneurs. They can do this work by 1) funding promising ideas and 2) sharing skills and business advice. There are several advantages to effectuating change in this manner:
- Small grassroots NGOs and social entrepreneurs that are super local have an intimate understanding of the real problems facing their community, from abject homelessness to food deserts.
- Moreover, substantial research shows that they require only a small amount of funding to effectuate massive change. Donations of $5000 to $25000 can change entire neighborhoods when given to these grassroots NGOs, whereas giving this same amount to the American Red Cross wouldn’t even cover a project’s massive overhead costs.
- Innovative ideas to help people don’t have to be an afterthought. Businesses often have a social good component, e.g. buy a pair of shoes and we will donate one to a child without shoes in another country. However, we believe social good shouldn’t be an afterthought. Instead, many non-profits with innovative ideas to help people can lead to profitable business ideas. As investors in some of these NGOs, panelists can benefit from supporting innovative non profit change-making and participate in any profitable ventures that may follow.