Imagine if a business could raise capital with just its facebook page and use it to hire an on-demand workforce that was tracked and accountable for the growth of the business. Imagine if all the financial data on funding, payments and performance was publicly available on a blockchain with full transparency and impossible to corrupt.
It would be something close to a perfect economic system for businesses to thrive and the economy to grow. It would be a dream scenario for poor countries with high unemployment and a struggling economy. It would be even more ideal for isolated areas, such as a refugee camp in Jordan, Kenya, or Palestine, or developing countries, such as Gambia. It would create the market institutions required to attract, deploy and circulate capital in transparent, enforceable and efficient way.
Let’s take the refugee camp in Kakuma as an example: for 25 years, it has hosted some of the 20 million people displaced in the region. The Kakuma camp is one of the largest and longest-standing refugee camps in the world, with more than 250,000 people with little prospect of returning home, becoming a Kenyan citizen or being resettled in a developed country.
However, the camp’s informal economy is thriving with more than 2,000 businesses, despite the low level of education and endless restrictions and barriers to do business. The average initially investment to start a business is 400 USD and they employ, on average, five people. As an example, Esperanza started her small fashion label, Esperanza Fashion & Design, in 2011 with 220 USD, after fleeing violence in the DRCs. She currently earns about 20 USD per month by selling her designs. Remarkably, with a 80% mobile and 60% Facebook penetration in the area, the internet, social media, especially Facebook and Instagram, are playing a major role in attracting potential customers to these local businesses.
What is needed is a way to invest in ventures like these with financial transparency, enforceable contracts and risk mitigation and without high transaction costs and the uncertainty and noise of developing countries.
So, here is how GrowthBond works for Esperanza, and the thousands of businesses in Kakuma, Jordan, Palestine and Gambia.
The companies can sign up to GrowthBond with their Facebook page, and this verifies the identity of the business.
The more advanced companies can connect their Facebook and Google advertising account. The second step is to connect their local or international payment system to ensure tracking of revenue and repayment of the funding.
The third step is to choose a locally certified expert to assist the local company with the online marketing and growth of the company. This on-demand workforce can sign up to a chatbot that will guide the freelancer through certifications courses and how to enter the GrowthBond, as well as the international freelance marketplaces.
The final step is to review the funding applications before it goes out to GrowthBonds investors, including international donors, business angels and impact investors.
As an investor, you can now invest into the growth campaign of the local business directly from the company campaign page, with full transparency on the financial transactions, revenue and repayment. The campaigns are promoted to the 200,000–300,000 typical donors or impact investors with Facebook advertising to ensure a constant flow of capital into the companies.
It is an investment into the online marketing campaigns to grow the local businesses and create job opportunities for local freelance workers. The investor essentially takes the marketing risk by covering the cost of advertising and freelancers, in exchange for a 10% return from the business revenue. GrowthBond makes money by taking a 10% commission of the funding raised together with a 10% commission on the local freelancer.