Reform or rebuild? That is the question. The question of how you reach large scale change. Four social entrepreneurs, 2 rebuilding the system and 2 reforming it, told the audience what choice they made. Rupert Howes, CEO of the MSC organisation, fishery certification program and seafood ecolabe, chose to reform the system. Howes gave the audience four reasons why MSC did so.
- History: Nations have been born on seafood trade.
- Scale: fish is the most traded product around the world.
- Leadership & self interest. Large companies want to show the world they care. And they recognise their need for sustainable fishing
- Model of certification is a proven concept.
Kiva is rebuilding the system. Kiva president Premal Sha explained to the audience why. It’s the fun factor that Kiva brings in. ‘If 16 million people around the world play and pay for Farmville on Facebook and only 16.000 wants to contribute to real farmers, something is wrong’, Sha said.
That’s why Kiva adds a third part to doing good: experience. ‘Social and financial return are important, but fun connects. Helping other people is fun. We try to make real giving as compelling and addictive as virtual giving like Farmville. This is the new market we trying to build.’
This fun and FB argument reminds me of the vision of the Dutch 1%club, the first Dutch online market place for development projects where you can directly offer 1% of your money, time or expertise to a project of your own choice. ‘If all of us can write an online encyclopaedia (Wikipedia) together, than surely we should be able to solve poverty together!’ is what they say. They are also trying to rebuild the system
Kiva’s Sha gave another example of rebuilding the system: student loans. In the developing world it is a very important issue but it doesn’t exist. It is a chicken or the egg dilemma. Students have no pay back track record because there is no student loan. And because there is no such record they don’t get loans. Sha: ‘So that is perfect to us, the Internet community. To actually create this patient money and channel it towards products like student loans and than maybe we find that an 18 year old student who wants to get an accounting degree has a repayment rate of 97% vs a 19 year old student on physics has a rate of 92%. By providing them loans, we’ve been able to demonstrate that there is a viable student loan product out there. And then commercial guys come in and bring it to scale. So this is a demonstration of what the Internet can do in terms of proving the viability of new financial products on the frontier of risky costs is. That is what we are attempting to address with Kiva.’
Two ways of changing the world, one from within and one from the outside and moderator Rodney Schwartz asked the audience to choose between the 2. Which one is the best? The audience refused to judge. And that was a wise judgement. Because it is not about one of the 2. They are both viable. They both have their right to exist. In some cases you need to change the world from within, and in some cases from the outside. Why choose, if they both can add to a better world?
This is my fifth post on the Skoll World Forum. Because I’m one of the 5 star bloggers, these posts are in English.