WorldNeeds – The Missing Side of the Bitcoin

Still a draft;    

Alternative Headlines;
Send Capitalism to Catch Capitalism
Unseating Governments. The Easier, Unstoppable Path to Decentralisation

I immediately switched from scrolling to thinking on reading ‘Bitcoin is primarily an economics/social project, rather than a software project.’ from Roger Ver’s twitter timeline. This retweet from the Dr. Peter Rizun Chief Scientist of Bitcoin Cash (BCH) took me on a research spree on how Bitcoin or crypto can fit into an access to micro credit and digital transformation for micro & small businesses social project I was bringing to life. The crypto community has for long focused more on the technical side. It is now time to focus on the social side, to increase crypto acceleration to the decentralized promised land.

Most cryptocurrencies’ storyline is reaching the 3 Billion unbanked poor but are yet to have a deliberate strategy to really serve the unbanked let alone having little or no input, actual experiences and concerns of the poor themselves. In fact in a heated debate about the value of bitcoin, it took Katie Haun (General Partner at a16z) fronting the plight of the unbanked 3 Billion to sever a point from Nobel Economist Paul Krugman. Krugman who wrote the skeptical “Bitcoin is Evil” said “that is the best defense for crypto I’ve heard”. Below are insights of a Ugandan – East Africa, working at the cross-section of access to credit for the poorest and digital transformation.

I just learned that software can OWN money – of course, am late to the party but for someone who has been grappling with a practical use-case for this concept, this gamechanger bends capitalism Down to offer a hand-up to the poor and Up again to make the ‘Haves’ happy. Here’s why;

Google made $136B in profits in 2018. Imagine google was 40% owned by individuals and 60% owned by an AI software called, say ‘#worldneeds’ running on Bitcoin or Ethereum. Now imagine there’re n such companies and ‘#worldneeds’ distributes/spends its wealth on the most urgent, neglected, & solvable social and environmental problems worldwide.

So that would be $81.6 Billion guaranteed to the #worldneeds robot who can spend it on Interest-Free Micro-Credit to millions of neglected (because they lack collateral and are high-risk)  micro and small businesses to grow & employ more people, Investments to scale social enterprises and climate-smart innovations, Access to safe Water for neglected 600 Million, accelerate pro-social research & innovations, Emergency to the hungry and homeless, Neglected health, education issues, climate change & Biodiversity conservation, Etc. i.e. taking on neglected government services.

The individual owners of our fictional Google still keep $54 Billion to themselves, which is still good motivation to be a capitalist, individual prosperity, Individual investment interests like going to the moon, yachts, or Sex Robots 😊, Topping Forbes Richest, Showbiz, etc. I mean does Mark Zuckerberg for example need even $10 Billion all to himself because Facebook was intelligent enough to exploit the attention of a billion people.

There’s widespread concern over the trend of capitalism from renown economists, social activists, development organizations, thousands of individual bloggers, and even the ‘neglected’ and billionaires themselves. Solow’s paradox observes that you can see the computer age everywhere but in productivity statistics. Investments in technology have increased more than 20X in the last 20 years while GDP has barely increased 3X. You probably already know of the infamous inequality statistic of the top 1% controlling 40% of global wealth.

The effects of the current trend are not just worrisome but deadly. We see increasing tension between the left and the right, deadly immigration endeavors to unwelcoming European and North American authorities. Latest world-bank numbers say poverty is on the increase in Sub Saharan African and parts of the Middle East, climate change is displacing and forcing more and more people into hunger and this list of world challenges is becoming more urgent and more complex than ever before. – add numbers

Capitalism has definitely done more good than harm but it has also heralded upon us what economists call the “Tragedy of the Commons”. “A situation in a shared-resource system where individual users, acting independently according to their own self-interest, behave contrary to the common good of all users, by depleting or spoiling that resource through their collective action. “– Wikipedia

Since this is not the time for blame games, socialism has seen it’s fair share of positives and negatives. The failures of both capitalism and socialism are best summarized in a quote from billionaire Ray Dalio. “most capitalists don’t know how to divide the economic pie well and most socialists don’t know how to grow it well.”

Extractive Architecture of Capitalism

I’m no economist, but I understand capitalism to be supported by three pillars;

  1. Banks – that lend us to spend
  2. Advertising – that pushes or ‘manipulates’ us to spend
  3. Products & Services – on which we spend

In this architecture banks control the world economy largely through debt. Beyond “Occupy Wallstreet” this is empirically confirmed by a recent study at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology that used complex systems theory to map ownership among transnational corporations.

 

This architecture of capitalism has evolved to be more extractive than distributive, with each pillar employing extractive mechanisms to make it stronger to live on longer; see graphic on the left.

With advancement in technology banks are now conniving with advertisers to continuously perfect their manipulation game with pinpoint accuracy.  In this post, Alex Gladstein shares how he received a dog-food twitter advert just a few minutes after using his credit card to buy dog-food. He argues this could have happened only if his bank ‘Chase’ shared transaction data with twitter.  Bizarre, right.

Banks take predatory interest rates – of course this is more pronounced in developing countries where interest rates are over the roof with banks and microfinance institutions charging upto 95% in some countries.  While market-researching on a peer-to-peer credit solution, I interviewed a microfinance staff operating in Uganda with roots in USA and they took pride in lending micro-businesses at 75% interest! This keeps millions of households in a never-ending poverty loop because they work for these credit predators. We need more support to ethical financing initiatives.

 

Advertising: is big business, apart from monetizing our data, privacy and attention reducing our productivity, digital advertising for example is becoming more expensive by the day.  Businesses spend $1 to make $2 in revenue.

Products & Services: heart diseases, and cancers are the leading causes of death, ads push us to foods and lifestyles that make manufacturers billionaires but make us obese, sicker yet we can’t access the need medicare. Further, heavy manufacturing increases carbon and global warming, increasing hurricanes, species extinction, and little is done to offset this burden. Corporations are also more focused on shareholders profits and pay peanuts to employees furthering inequality.

Decentralizing CSR & Philanthropy

It is true that pro-social mechanisms like taxes and corporate social responsibility (CSR), and philanthropy are used for redistribution purposes, but if they were working well, we probably would have a less urgent and less complex burden of global challenges.

While governments are ideally responsible for addressing most of the challenges faced by citizens, most of them would rather feed the most cake to themselves insidiously focusing most resources on creating and managing conflicts, fortifying their grip on power, corruption etc.

This leaves the redistribution burden to CSR and philanthropy.

But CSR and giving or philanthropy which thrives on compassion haven’t experienced innovative disruption since their inception. As a result, for example US giving has stagnated at 2% of GDP for over 2 decades, while GDP has more than doubled in the same period.

The current model of CSR, and philanthropy operates mostly at the discretion of the capitalists – shareholders decide what, when, who, why and how much to give not market forces. Yet as Noam Chomsky says “… modern state capitalism is that costs and risks are socialized to the extent possible, while profit is privatized.” So, what if we socialized profits too by subjecting them to market competition?

 

Capitalism has excelled at growing the pie largely thanks to the magic of “competition”. The same competition-magic can drive distribution of the pie faster if we can recalibrate competition to include’ #worldneeds’ into the market economy through altruism advertising.

But to avoid socialism’s failure of not growing the pie, the redistribution should mostly focus on more pro-poor production than pro-poor consumption.  To fix the inequality failures of capitalism, we need more distributive competition not more regulation. More taxes and other regulations will still always lockup most wealth at the top with only peanuts getting to the bottom of the pyramid.

Circular Capitalism –

There have been several suggestions to the now violent tide of inequality. Increasing taxes, better salaries, minimum wages, trade restrictions, protectionism, immigration bans – yes, e.g Trump believes preventing more people into US means Americans won’t have to share the pie with more taste buds, among others. The main shortcoming of these interventions is that most wealth is still clogged in the top and middle classes.

Capitalism creates prosperity by entrepreneurs fronting several alternative solutions to a problem and the best ones are naturally scaled due to consumer demand. This project explores another easy to implement, more distributive, more productive, multi-sectoral, less oligarchic, and more competitive approach to economic inequality. It’s a classic example of send a thief to catch a thief – send capitalism to catch capitalism’s inequality. Because the thief knows the tricks, hideouts, and other details, you will catch the thief faster, we need to address #worldneeds, inequalities faster than all current interventions are running.

It’s a reconfigured architecture of the pillars of capitalism, i.e. from

Banks that control the economy >

Advertising that manipulates consumers to irrational choices >

Products & Services that are properties,

to

Consumers that facilitate

Altruism Advertising that facilitates             Individual Profits & #worldneeds

Banking that facilitates

 

Consumers

In this new architecture, Consumers run the economy by consciously purchasing products & services that directly and actively support specific social and environmental causes at the grassroots. i.e. profits are directly shared with #worldneeds through a commission from altruism advertising.

Fortune and BCG studies respectively say ‘two thirds’ and 67% of “millennials believe that working for causes is an integral part of life, and they’re drawn to big issues. Instead of making one-off donations, they’re more likely to integrate their causes into daily life by buying products that support social or environmental causes.” BCG – The Millennial Consumer 2012.

“76% agreed that businesses focus on their own agendas rather than considering wider society, 91% would switch brands for one championing a cause. “Deloitte Global Millennial Survey 2019

“Seven out of ten willing to pay more for a product with a conscience.”  Cone Communication 2015

This data suggests that beyond primary consumer demands of quality, delivery time, customer care, etc. there’s a fast-growing secondary consumer demand that brands aren’t competing against. i.e. millennials & gen-z’s insatiable desire for a more equitable society, to make the world better for everything on it.

 

Altruism Advertising: this is the gist of this project. It’s the source of the envisaged funds. Competition lubricates capitalism but advertising lubricates competition. Disruptive innovation is about reducing the cost so that the masses can access a product or service. This model reduces the cost of sacrifice to zero so that millions of people can now be philanthropists donating not money but purchase decisions, buying products and services from merchants willing to offer a percentage of the sale to social-environmental needs.

This ‘Collaborative Competition’ precipitated by millennials & Gen-Z, biosphere consciousness and relentless desire to fix social-environmental problems fuels pro-poor wealth creation and access to more of life’s basics. Capitalism has a big hand in most social-environmental issues and it can be recalibrated to quickly fix these challenges without waiting for bureaucratic inefficiencies of governments.

This altruism advantage/force-multiplier does five things;

  • Reduces the cost of sacrifice: to zero so millions of altruist consumers act on causes they care about.
  • Reduces cost of conversion for online sellers: as customers are energized to buy by the need to save a life not by ads.
  • Quickly Fixes a World Need: a child with a curable malignant cancer tumor or heart-disease won’t have to endure another year of pain, suffering and stigma, will go to school, and won’t go hungry another day, since their mum has enough income to provide these basics.
  • Increases Happiness: studies show that altruistic actions reduce stress and improve mental health.
  • Increases awareness of global challenges and effectively rallies the world in solidarity against them.

Conventional advertising thrives largely on manipulation to influence consumers to make irrational product/service choices. Altruism advantage is based on the fact that everything someone purchases/consumes has an impact on ‘the individual’, ‘society’ and the ‘environment’. As such relevant information is provided for consumers to make rational choices.  French economist Gerard Debreu argued that, that everyone’s welfare is maximized, if markets are competitive and people are rational and have good information.

Another concerned billionaire Nick Hanauer says, “Businesses and the rich do not create jobs. Jobs are created by a feedback loop between customers and businesses that is set in motion by consumers increasing their demand.”

There are widespread concerns of the current digital marketing players exploiting our privacy, transaction data and auctioning our attention to biggest bidder. This architecture changes this to instead extract our compassion which is the commonest human identity according to several studies.

 

 

At the core of this new architecture is a new ownership model.

What is the bestest intervention to activate this demand?

Urgent, Neglected, & Solvable is a framework developed by Oxford University Philosopher and co-founder of Centre for Effective Altruism & Global Priorities Institute to decide on which global problems to donate to. However the model relies on individual donations which make limited impact.

On a practical level I would add sustainable; non-bureaucratic; and scalable to the framework. Giving the poor a hand-up is more sustainable than giving them handouts. Luckily, the poorest work hardest, but the system limits their productivity. If we extended unsecured, interest-free credit to their micro/small businesses, their productivity and household wealth increases. When they repay, the money is lent to others and the cycle continues at scale.

The poor live a subsistence life, most times having to choose only one or two of life’s basics but not all; food, health, education, shelter, clothing, water etc. I know women using mosquito nets provided free by The Global Fund not to protect themselves against malaria but to make passion fruit juice, mushroom growing and other small income generating activities.

With transparent use of data and follow-ups to show the life-changing impact of these microloans ($1,000 – $5,000) to mostly women, more brands will offer more to ‘#worldneeds’ and more consumers will habitually buy for ‘#worldneeds’.

Banking

Bill Gates once said, “Banking is necessary, banks are not”. The main role of this pillar in the new architecture is facilitating the “poor” to access the capital and product/service innovation to be more productive, to sell more to classes above them, create employment and increase wealth & prosperity. This should actually be called Pro-Poor Banking.

Pro-Poor Banking is particularly important because;

  • It cushions this new architecture from Dalio’s Dilemma of capitalists not distributing the economic pie well but socialists not grow the pie well either.
  • Micro & small businesses are naturally neglected by the current capitalism architecture. World Bank says to stem poverty micro, small & medium enterprises (MSMEs) – which employ 4 in 5 people, need to access credit and markets to grow to employ more people and pay better salaries. 200-245 million (46-56% women-owned) informal and formal MSMEs in developing economies are either unserved or underserved by credit institutions. The value of this credit gap is $2.1–2.6 trillion; and for at least one female owner it’s $750– 920 billion.

De-risk; the problem with the current financial credit system is that banks don’t care whether you make loss or profit. For many small businesses this is a no go as they fear losing the little, they have. It’s also important to note that there is no shortage of money to fill the SME $2.6 Trillion credit-gap, but micro and small businesses are just too risky for lenders. Therefore, using the collected #worldneeds commission money as risk capital to micro and small businesses helps them graduate into the existing financial credit system.

Interest Free:  because they are high-risk, micro and small businesses are subjected to abnormal interest rates that keep (for the lucky few that get credit) small businesses and employees in a never-ending loop of poverty. A small fixed service fee may be charged.

Collateral Free: This credit should be collateral free; the poor are usually poor because they have little or nothing to stake. Collateral free micro credit ensures more small business owners are not excluded and their potential given due chance. Yes, there will be failures and defaulters, but this is what capitalism is about. Venture Capitalists invest in 100 startups but only a handful stand a chance. This failure rate is far less with ordinary small businesses.

Basic Product/Service Innovation:

Capitalism thrives on innovation. What makes micro and small businesses high-risk is largely their failure to innovate their products/services, processes, cultures to serve more customers. This is because most of them have basic education, limited exposure, and many hardly think beyond subsistence.

Helping micro and small businesses innovate, even the most basic of innovations is very important here, because, several studies show that microfinance hasn’t achieved its promised objectives of lifting people out of power. This is because of the high-interest rates but also because, like banks, microfinance institutions don’t care about the borrower’s business, little advice is given to them to improve quality, productize, and target more customers.

If the poor create and gain more wealth, they are also in position to consume hitherto unaffordable products/services from the classes above them. So, the upper classes become richer and happier for having helped lift people out of poverty and the cycle continues.

 

Crowd-Innovation. One of the features in this project is to allow individuals with different backgrounds from anywhere in the world to read uploaded micro/small business projects and offer innovative advice to improve the product/service for the business to grow. This can be scientific, product, market, culture, and business model innovation, it can be at a small scale but when scaled horizontally to other small businesses creates massive impact.

Prospects for Bitcoin Adoption.

Am using bitcoin to represent cryptocurrencies in general. There are short, mid and long -term prospects for bitcoin from this project.

Short Term

Proof of concept for leaner government: This doesn’t even need using bitcoin. If we can build a sustainable model to serve and uplift the people and other things in the biosphere that are neglected by ‘the system’ then governments can as well return some of our power and taxes. 😊

“I believe that a lot of things that governments do around the world today, if you privatize or even partially privatize those things, the world will be much more efficient, because seven fiercely competitive companies will always achieve the result much better than one bureaucratic fat government institution.” Murad Mahmudov – Bitcoin Maximalist

 

  • Take on banks
  • Advertising
  • Mobile

Conclusion

Capitalism and Socialism have only gone so far sometimes astray in making the world better for current & future generations largely because they are centralized and with centralization cronyism, gross abuse, fraud, and neglect are inevitable. Since we (millennials & Gen Z) have given these systems their fair share to make things better for all of us and – it’s fair to say they have failed, we need to take matters in our hands.

The only way we can steer the ship away from an eminent rock-wreck is by hacking the frail captain and his assistant’s main controls – this is what we do best, right, before we are driven into a chain reaction of uncontrollable catastrophic events some of which are already happening now. We can change the ship’s direction faster by hacking socialism’s compassion into capitalism’s consumerism.

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A Government Service Robot

Despite the state’s many & daily programs and services, the youth’s ‘hearts and minds’ experience everything else but the state. Every day I wake up and; when I brush ‘Colgate’ sticks in the mind and heart, when I buy airtime MTN sticks, when I withdraw money Stanbic bank sticks and all other products and services hang in our hearts and minds as positively impacting our daily lives. It is these experiences with products and services that shape our views, opinions and eventually our predisposition to trust them with a vote of confidence by buying them over again and again.

But to the state’s disadvantage when I sleep and wakeup without gunshots, the state never hangs in my mind nor heart, when I drive to office on a smoothly tarmacked road, when I receive free medical drugs from hospital, when I receive many other state services, the state rarely hangs in our hearts and minds as positively impacting our lives. On the contrary the overwhelming negative stories in media set up our hearts and minds to view the state as negatively impacting our lives. Like the many bounties of God, we’ve evolved to take state programs & services for granted and instead choosing to squabble over state failures.

In most developing countries including Uganda there’s a brutal battle for the ‘hearts and minds’ of the youth between incumbents and opposition. The youth have no party loyalty, demand better services, insisting on convenience, are tech savvy, always connected, focused on innovation and are effecting political change to serve their demands.

Both Opposition & Incumbents are failing to reach the youth “physically emotionally, and psychologically”. In failing to reach citizens, incumbents are actively promoting the oppositions’ agenda giving youth reasons to rally with the opposition’s ideas. Unlike opposition, incumbents have the advantage of creatively using what they’ve; ‘done’, ‘currently doing’, and ‘planning to do’ to make the youth positively engage, experience and think of the state as positively impacting their daily lives.

While government has tried to reach the youth through several means, a more innovative and deliberate effort is urgently required to counter the precipitating wave opposition gains.

This means consistently aligning state activities with a 2-way communication stream targeting youth using their beliefs, messaging, language, and tools they understand and use daily. There’re 24 million mobile phone users, this is pretty much everyone above 18 years.

So, what if a resident of Kooki woke-up and found a message on their phone;

“National Medical Stores; has delivered 50 tons of ARVs, 20 tons of Malaria drugs, etc… to Kalisizo Hospital. – Gov’t Service Robot”, then later in the day another message

“Uganda National Roads Authority will start construction of the Kagamba – Ddwaniro Road on 20th Oct, 2019. You’re encouraged to give us feedback as it progresses – Gov’t Service Robot”, then when he goes to Kalisizo hospital the next week and there’re no malaria drugs, he sends a message via the Gov’t Service Robot

“I walked all the way from Buyamba with my sick child and was told there’re no medicines yet you said you sent the malaria drugs? – Yokkoniya Kaggwa” the robot responds politely

“Dear Yokkoniya, we apologises for the inconvenience, Your message has been received and will be attended to shortly. Expect an update soon. – Gov’t Service Robot” it then routes the message to the concerned official, the District Health Officer, NMS, and can escalate to a political leader if no action is taken within a week. If after investigation, it is discovered that the drugs were stolen as is usually the case, the robot sends a message to Yokkoniya and other residents in the region.

“Dear Yokkoniya, our investigations have determined that the medicines batch No. 94343 were stolen. The pharmacist – Serwanga Tony was arrested and facing criminal charges. NMS has sent drugs again and they will be delivered on 23rd Aug, 2019. – Gov’t Service Robot”

One of the most urgent problems facing farmers and youth including those financed by OWC is access to market for their products. This is not because there are no buyers, rather there is no intelligent connection between youth products and buyers. The Gov’t Service Robot can start a cultural and mindset shift of people waiting for buyers to come to them. If I need market for my beans, I just log onto the Gov’t Service Robot and type, “Beans Buyers”, it then lists potential buyers and their price, transport offers for me to choose.

If this 2-way mutual communication can be extrapolated to the whole range of government services (education, social development, financial services, police, agriculture, extension services, health, land matters, etc.) that intersect with the daily lives and experiences, incumbents can be assured winners of the ‘hearts and minds’ of the youth and citizenry at large. When the youth say they want change, the actual change they yearn for is one that reaches, engages, and sincerely promises them on their turf – the mobile phone isn’t currently under-harnessed by incumbents.

Why the Robot

I have followed the president’s speeches and writings on different media, each time it’s public service officers that let him down on achieving his visions. The robot can augment public service officers on the important task of ensuring a warm 2-way daily communication of public. The robot doesn’t tire, doesn’t sleep, effective with repetitive tasks, not corrupt, cheaper to maintain, and most importantly learns and improves service efficiency as more and more people interact with it.

It also stores lots of key data-points that the state can use to improve the planning and  budgeting process, improve program/service efficiency and maintain a healthy relationship with citizens.

Creative Capitalism: Recalibrating Capitalism to Fast-Track #worldneeds

Giving hasn’t been reinvented since its start. With social and environmental issues (World-Needs) changing at snail pace, and the internet reducing global divide, it’s time to reinvent giving to fast track a better world for more people. Innovation is about mass adoption usually through cost reduction. So how about we reduce the cost of sacrifice from giving money and time to giving just purchase decisions?

I’m lucky to be at the centre of two seemingly unrelated initiatives that have given me insights into how we can collect as much money as possible but most importantly use it to effectively do the most good to fast-track reducing inequality and its effects.

I have been a web developer and digital marketer for a decade and recently launched a human managed Digital Marketing as a Service platform targeting SMEs in developed markets who want to reduce digital marketing costs. But also in 2016 I started a P2P lending initiative that has since extended over $200,000 from microlenders to SMEs who have won low-risk opportunities like contracts, LPOs etc; no interest but profit/loss sharing, no collateral but trust.

My digital marketing experience tells me that fierce competition between products & service brands is limited to satisfying only ‘Personal Needs’ of consumers, but these same consumers have secondary needs of seeing progressive change in ‘World-Needs’. Adding another metric of ‘World-Needs’ to the competition can generate the much needed resources to finance ‘World-Needs’.

My P2P lending initiative has taught me that the poorest who work as hard if not more than us, are far less productive because they CAN’T access credit – they’re high risk, and CAN’T innovate their products and services not even the most basic innovations like product bundling, marketing, etc – because they have basic education if at all. These two “CAN’TS” limit to peanuts how much wealth flows down to them from above the wealth pyramid.

As a result they live a subsistence life, most times have to choose only one or two of life’s basics but not all; food, health, education, shelter, clothing, water etc. I know women using mosquito nets provided free by The Global Fund not to protect themselves against malaria but to make passion fruit juice, mushroom growing and other small income generating activities.

A “consumer revolution” where brands compete on “World Needs” beyond “Consumer Needs” can be the ‘decentralized bank’ that generates money to offer interest free, unsecured credit and as well as product/service innovation fees. It’s 2019 not 1920, through inclusive digital transformation enhanced by ‘collaborative competition’ precipitated by millennials’ biosphere consciousness or relentless desire to improve social and environment issues, we can fast track access to credit and markets making the poorest more productive and enabling them access to more of life’s basics.

In 2017, ecommerce was responsible for around $2.3 trillion in sales and is expected to hit $4.5 trillion in 2021 (Statista). On average, millennials now make 54% of purchases online.

“67% millennials believe that working for causes is an integral part of life, and they’re drawn to big issues. Instead of making one-off donations, they’re more likely to integrate their causes into daily life by buying products that support social or environmental causes.” BCG – The Millennial Consumer – Debunking Stereotypes 2012.

When shopping for products, 50% of millennial parents say they try to buy products that support causes or charities. (Fort Mill Times)

At the base of this platform we propose a new form of legal corporate ownership transparently enforced by blockchain. 40% private and 60% for “World Needs” The 40% will ensure sustainability of the project, employing high-quality engineers, digital marketers, data scientists, accountants, operational expenses like media publicity among others to make it a global acclaim, prioritize and maximize impact on world needs.

Blockchain’s provenance and immutability can ensure transparency on how the 60% is spent, track status and progress of interventions, track traffic/conversion to websites, its consensus and finality to enforce agreed network rules.

Our vision is to build a platform to disrupt philanthropy and corporate social responsibility by decentralizing giving to the buyers improving the whole experience of giving, and accessing charity. But most importantly make this collected wealth effectively do the most good, Lift more people out of poverty, save more lives and the environment. We believe, with a Global GDP of $87.51 trillion, the only pain and suffering people should endure is one money can’t fix.

 

What is the world’s most valuable resource? Online Traffic.
What is the commonest human identity? Compassion.
What is the world’s biggest problem? Poverty.
How can we integrate Traffic, Compassion, & Poverty to better the world for all of us?

Experts say data is the most valuable resource but it’s online traffic. In a digital economy businesses grow by attracting more visitors to their websites than competitors. It’s why some of the richest companies Google, Facebook, etc. thrive on traffic. It’s $308 Billion industry. Because there’s tight competition for traffic, these global companies use our data to optimize their traffic sales. But what if we shifted or enhanced competition to something that doesn’t necessarily require our data but our compassion; the commonest human identity.

Something we all care about, something that saves rather than kill, something more digitally inclusive than exclusive, something that cares rather than ignores, something more productive than regressive, more distributive of global wealth than extractive, decentral than central, something with global interests not oligarchic interests, something we can call “World Needs”, i.e. social and environmental needs.

Products and services providers have already exceeded our “Personal/Customer Needs” to the extent that we don’t need another selfie app while hurricanes kill more of us due to increasing global warming, and other preventable risk factors.  We can turn the turf of competition upside down so merchants care not only to our ”personal needs” but also “World Needs”, which turn out to be secondary personal-needs because we all need social and environmental/climate security.

Which brings us to what is the world’s biggest problem? It’s Poverty which limits 3B people from accessing life’s basics and eventually 18 million people die because of poverty related issues annually. Poverty also indirectly affects the rich.

Scientists tell us we are on course for a chain reaction of irreversible catastrophic events if we don’t do something radical to change the course of our; well, deteriorating ship, ‘the world’ within this decade.

Yet this year another 3 billion trees will be cut because 3 Billion people can’t afford climate-smart methods for daily activities. This warms up earth further and then more hurricanes that cost life and property worth $256B in 2017, wild fires, species extinction, etc. From immigration in German, radicalization leading to terrorism in the UK, to gang violence in Australia, poverty affects not only the poor but the rich as well.

World Bank says to stem poverty micro, small and medium enterprises (SMEs) which employ 4 in 5 need to access ethical credit and markets to grow to employ more people and pay better salaries. It’s 2019 not 1920, through inclusive digital transformation enhanced by ‘collaborative competition’ precipitated by millennials’ desire to improve social and environment issues or biosphere consciousness we can fast track these two.

Globally there is a $2.5 trillion SME credit gap which is worsened by predatory credit institutions charging over-the-roof interest rates that keep small businesses and employees in a never ending loop of poverty.

This is through platform that showcases short stories of the poorest hustling to survive, their work challenges, household aspirations and budget what they require to target the digital customer.

 

 

E-Commerce to Elusive Poverty; Digital Transformation Needs to Be Inclusive.

dp286dlwsaa5osfImagine a Uganda with only 3% unemployment, and 90% living above $5 a day. Imagine a Uganda where it takes small and medium businesses less than one week to sell their stock. Imagine a Uganda where 95% of small and medium businesses aren’t turned away by credit institutions, and easily contribute tax revenues. We’re no longer imagining–we’re building this Uganda.

The trend is digital. The masses are digital. Corporates are already digital. Government is going digital. But Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) are sluggish. Yet digital transformation translates into economic transformation down to even personal incomes.

SMEs employ 4 in 5 people, and contribute 33% of GDP but with only 1-2 going on past the first year, they are the most vulnerable, and to support them we need innovative partnerships to ensure an inclusive digital transformation.

From Elmot’s market research, the number one problem SMEs faced is reaching clients to buy their products and services. Yet we are 41 million people and from e-payments, shipping/delivery, regulations, to the fast-paced internet usage, all relevant factors required for a vibrant e-commerce ecosystem are now in place, but the mindset of business owners needs a nudge to focus on the digital customer.

The problem is no longer technology, or experience. Rather how do SMEs make their businesses ready for a digital world, a digital client? This means strategic partnerships, with payments providers, transportation providers, conventional media channels, digital marketers, financing institutions, packaging, government, and development partners to redirect SMEs to the digital trend.

The overarching objective of this partnership would be helping SMEs use technology to find new distribution networks and models, to create sustainable growth in their current businesses and affordably spend to build new digital businesses and mutual partnerships.

SME owners need motivational (inspiring business owners to embrace digital) but mostly informational (guiding SMEs on how to sell to hitherto unreachable customers) to access new markets, promote personal income of the ordinary citizen to stimulate growth and attract investors.

This partnership should ensure that SMEs are prepared to trade to benefit from the digital trend in a way that benefits every citizen, and this should help achieve Uganda’s Vision2040. Serving everyone, creating new jobs, opportunities, better incomes in this new digital economy.

Let’s visualise a quick example of the ripple impact focusing digital transformation on small businesses has on the economy. Ggonja (Roasted Plantain) normally sold by women (usually single moms normally called “Nnalongo” for birthing twins) on Kampala’s streets and upcountry highways.

Many office workers love Ggonja but they only get to taste it while travelling upcountry. What if we helped 100 Nnalongos around Kampala to innovate their product and process to serve office goers. For each Nnalongo you have employed 5 Bodaboda riders to deliver, 1 to offer packaging,  5 farmers to supply the plantain, 1 shamberboy , Airtime for ordering and coordination, 1 Environment Friendly stove, 1 to supply bricketts, quality management and others along the Ggonja value chain. When demand increases, farmers will need to start irrigation, acquire loans, etc. So that is around 1,500 jobs maintained by just the Ggonja value chain. So do this for roasted maize, Kigere/Molokoni (Cow Hooves), fruits, cakes, roasted goats meet, etc, the impact is just explosive.

Kampala City Council Authority (KCCA) has built Usafi market and vendors don’t want to occupy them mainly because they believe it’s location just doesn’t have customers. With e-commerce or m-commerce, these people don’t even need to pay rent, they can work from home as long as they are oriented in ensuring a quality product.

Potential Impact

Trade Impact

  • E-commerce is highly correlated with increase in trade volumes. — boosting productivity, spreading new technologies, and making products more affordable while creating millions of new jobs with higher wages.
  • Increased trade leads to specialization and increased division of labour. g. delivery, shipping, packaging, quality assurance and export coordination, clearing & forwarding, training and education, digital marketing etc.
  • Stimulates technological change by increasing domestic rivalry and competition and hence increased innovation.
  • Improvements in the e-commerce infrastructure and ecosystem allow the poor to trade more easily and profitably in domestic as well as in international markets.
  • E-commerce removes or reduces the impact of non-tariff barriers to trade.

Investment Impact

  • Facilitating a vibrant e-commerce environment has a positive impact on exports and increases foreign investor confidence in the market.

Employment Impact

  • E-commerce which increases trade volumes, division of labour, innovation and production directly increases employment which help millions move out of poverty.
  • A vibrant E-commerce ecosystem reduces income inequalities by lowering trade transactions costs in those sectors where employment of the poor is concentrated.
  • A focus on small and medium enterprises trade facilitation has an impact on income distribution and poverty through its effects on international trade, economic growth and government revenue.
  • E-commerce enhances trade-induced growth, which increases average incomes providing more resources with which to tackle poverty.

Export Impact

  • Exploiting market-access opportunities in the developed world requires an e-commerce strategy because consumers in developed markets prefer online orders. Sectors here can be arts and crafts, agriculture, online services among others. Studies suggest that an export based strategy of development offers the best prospects for economic growth.

Identity Verification: Is Hindering Financial Inclusion in Africa

18Google prides itself in building technologies that improve access to the world’s information by shouldering complexities for others to achieve their goals.

One neglected information problem affecting many sectors is Identity Management. Its negative impact is worse in the financial sector and the $726 Billion global payments sector that require strict user identity verification. Outdated means of identity verification have slowed financial inclusion in developing economies, frustrated customer-acquisition and on-boarding in financial, education, health, customs, government services, to mention but a few.

If my first bank or even better my National Identification Registration Authority already verified my identity, why does it still take hell for my next bank, online payments providers and services to verify me and in several worse scenarios reject genuine transactions?

Relatedly, I always angrily ask myself why I have to spend 1 — 5 hours filling about 5 – 15 forms (both online and printed) every month, each form asking me the same information, when I could just click to allow applications to securely fetch the bio information i approve through an API in less than a minute.

This market opportunity requires a strategic owner-managed technology solution that will make the future of access to and verification of personal information and identity an easier experience.

I co-founded www.elmot.ug in 2008 and recently founded www.varows.com. In both companies we help clients in Africa, Middle East & Europe setup websites including e-commerce businesses. In varows.com we go beyond setup and aggressively work with clients to make sure their websites produce actual returns on investment.

Challenge #1 in our works is  The Frustrating Payments Companies and their irrational transaction policies. Now, I know they have very strict federal or national payment regulations to comply with but I also know that with technology advances like Blockchain, ML, and AI, the key pain points of users can easily be resolved while remaining within regulatory constraints.

Above 6 in 10 of our and our clients’ payments pain-points hinge on Identity-Verification and unsurprisingly so do most payments regulations. This denies over $25 Billion genuine transactions. Each transaction denied is a life changing opportunity denied.

I believe the Identity Management challenge especially in developing economies is the missing link to massive adoption of cross-border digital payments.

Access to and verification of personal information determines access to several services that improve lives. A blockchain powered zero-knowledge proof solution to organize the world’s personal information and make it securely accessible to others especially for verification purposes is something i would love to work on.

From Paypal, WorldRemit, Banks, even the mushrooming Fin-Techs,  and now crypto giant Binance, and hundreds others, identity is still a silent show-stopper for millions of individuals looking to change their lives.

 

Why Product Management?

I attended a meetup on Product Management by ProductTank Which was Good for a start.

Didn’t have chance to respond to a question where someone asked how ReadyPay cops with many people sleeping at 7PM in Eastern Uganda.

I believe this is an opportunity in and of itself, because the more important question to ask (as a Product Manager) is; Why are over 4 Million households sleeping so early? The answer would be that they don’t have access to (or have not heard of ) disruptive products like ReadPay’s to keep them awake.

Technology is there to disrupt our behaviours with hitherto new opportunities. In Africa before knowledge, mail, telephone, cars, internet, etc, you had to hire a SWIFT runner to send a message to the next village.

And this is where good product management comes in as it it is the difference between winning & losing as https://www.kennorton.com/essays/productmanager.html says.

Extrapolate that, it is the difference between profit and loss, between adoption and rejection, between building a sustainable solution and a 1–9 year old company.

Most importantly to my Ugandan brothers and sisters, it’s the reason me and you have no more than 2 locally built apps if not none on our phones. It is the reason we still prefer western products right from the toothpick through undergarments to now Chinese building our roads. We have good engineers but we relegate the importance of Product Management.

 

UMEME contributing to Uganda’s Slow Growth

Naye UMEME do you need a PhD to know that 1 hour without power in business areas like BukotoStreet is worth over 5 days in village & residential areas. And it’s worth over 50 Million in URA taxes. On average you disconnect power for 40 hours a week, that is 2 Billion, 8 Billion a Month and a whopping 64 Billion UGX a year. Wait!! how much do our selfless Doctors, Teachers, etc. et.c. need to stop these daily strikes?

But you make sure power is on in low production areas and off (DMC transformers & other equip) in High production areas, more so during production hours. Sincerely when will Uganda grow. Let’s see how much we have lost in 10 years. 640 Billion. Bannange!!!

On average you need just 50 companies filling tax returns of 1 million. And in these areas there are over 1000 companies combined. And its not just filling but also a dense web of buying & selling of taxable products & services. All this is put on hold when power goes off.