First, fast, furious...Bangladeshi business blog

We provide
--social media strategies for Bangladeshi businesses worldwide
--public speaking on Bangladeshi businesses and social media
--paid product/service/website reviews of Bangladeshi companies

Interested to place an advertisement for your business?

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Jolkona - how micro-donations can lead to macro impacts

In a country where we have 26,000+ NGOs, it is always expected that innovative solutions to alleviating poverty will come from within the country first rather than only from foreign aid, foreign know-how and foreign goodwill. If necessity is the mother of all inventions, then it has really produced inventions such as micro-credit and luminaries like Dr. Yunus and Sir Abed. While it is appreciated what esteemed individuals like these have contributed to the world and to the fight against poverty, let us also look around and see what a relatively younger generation, with less grey hair than Yunus-Abed, is doing in relation to fundraising, poverty alleviation and technology. Jolkona Foundation is such an organisation which I have been following for a while now.

Assuming you have checked out what they are all about, let me delve straight into my thoughts about their venture.

The Bangla link
With due respect to the globalised team they have, we can take pride in the fact that even the very naming of the organisation implies (jolkona, meaning water drops in Bangla) that even micro-donations can have positive impact on people’s lives. So firstly I liked the name that it is in authentic Bangla. Then from the team profile you can realise that it is made of innovative, energetic American citizens, a few of whom may have links to Bangladesh through family and got inspired to get involved in alleviating poverty with the help of technology. So I liked the fact that their source of inspiration was pretty clear too.

The Kiva link
What I am still trying to figure out is how different they are in terms of what they do from the likes of Kiva, which has set some sort of precedence in this field of one-to-one donations and impact tracking via technology. Honestly I didn’t have the time to compare and contrast these two, may be any team member from Jolkona will be able to elaborate why someone or who should choose them over Kiva.

Bringing the innovation home
May be the environment in the US is more conducive to help nourish such noble ideas, I wonder how Jolkona could replicate the same with the domestic fundraising scenario inside Bangladesh. Most of 26,000 NGOs are one way or the other, dependent on foreign aid, from governments, foundations or high value individuals. But I still believe that in a country of 160 million, there is enough depth in the combined pocket of the population to donate in tiny amounts for micro causes within Bangladesh. Key reason why I never donate to the majority of these 26,000 is because I don’t trust them and I am convinced that they want to get richer through the business of poverty. But if I ever come across any appealing initiative which ensures full transparency, appeals to the youth, is trendy and shows impact clearly, I will not think twice to donate tiny amounts via SMS on a monthly basis.

So the point is I think the domestic fundraising scenario in Bangladesh badly needs some make over and I think initiatives like Jolkona could explore opportunities to help improve this situation. Making young school kids wear yellow t-shirts and selling roses in busy traffic junctions in Dhaka is certainly a fundraising effort worth appreciating, but only on the Children’s Day may be. How do we make it sustainable day after day? With the exponential growth of mobile phones in Bangladesh and local remittance services like bKash on the rise, I get a feeling that Jolkona could explore using this infrastructure to make it easier for the young Bangladeshis to help their fellow citizens. One word of caution though – any good thing can get spoilt fast in Bangladesh, so you might have to be careful for other 26,000 copy cats who can set up hotlines for SMS donations overnight and make the scenario really messy and untrustworthy again.

No comments: