‘By building a portal for social entrepreneurs in the developing world, we make it possible for donors anywhere in the world to discover these entrepreneurs, to interact with them, and to support them financially.’ This is how Mari Kuraishi describes DevelopmentSpace, of which she is a co-founder. Launched in February 2002, DevelopmentSpace is an online global social capital marketplace.
Called ‘the eBay of international aid’ by James Fallows in the Atlantic Monthly, it seeks to harness the power of the web to fight poverty in the developing world.
Co-founders Mari Kuraishi and Dennis Whittle, both previously at the World Bank, saw a huge demand for an online marketplace for development projects seeking aid – particularly one that is open to everyone in the world, not just well-connected entrepreneurs in the development industry.
‘We know from our experience experimenting with social entrepreneurship competitions at the World Bank that some of the best ideas for development come from the local community, and the best NGOs work hard to connect with such people. But we also know that unless the NGO went looking for them, these communities often couldn’t get access to support or funding. So we thought it was important to create a portal for them to come to.’
The goal is thus to directly connect social investors with projects that are effective and personally relevant. ‘We give investors and entrepreneurs greater access to their target audience, while decreasing the time and hassle required,’ Whittle explains. ‘Our costs will be below other channels used for fundraising and project development.’
DevelopmentSpace first gives social entrepreneurs the tools to develop sophisticated business planning documents to target potential investors. The documents are then uploaded on to the website and made available to a community of philanthropists (ranging from foundations and companies to affinity groups and individuals) who wish to get directly involved in the development process. DevelopmentSpace also connects these entrepreneurs to a global network of technical experts and service providers who can help with the preparation of business planning documents, ease the process of implementation and help facilitate high-impact social projects.
1 For the full article, visit the Atlantic website at http://www.theatlantic.com/issues/2002/02/fallows.htm
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