Monday, April 23, 2007

ASAP launch

I digress from microfranchising for a moment as I just received an email from Juanito (John Hatch), the founder of FINCA International and the concept of village banking, announcing the launch of the ASAP website. In his retirement John is co-founding this organization and fully supporting the movement.

ASAP stands for Alliance of Students Against Poverty but can modified to anything starting with 's'(Alliance of Schoolteachers, Scouts, Senators, Scientists, Social Innovators, etc) depending on the group. From the website:

The concept is simple: "a dollar-a-day for those living on a dollar a day"

The plan is for a Generation Y led campaign to abolish extreme poverty by 2025. It will therefore be an 18-year campaign--designed, managed, and evaluated by students--to get two million donors to reduce their consumption by $1/day so these savings can be invested in helping the world's most destitute families escape poverty. By 2025 they hope to have raised $7 billion on behalf of 50 million of the world's poorest families.

ASAP is trying to reach the poorest of the poor who have been missed by the microfinance movement. ASAP plans to channel funds, in the form of grants, through existing microfinance institutions that can either demonstrate strong track records in reaching the poorest families or through those that are willing to refocus part of their efforts toward serving the poorest. ASAP grants would support such activities as savings matches, asset transfers, subsidized food and medicines, healthcare, motivational training, business skill mentoring, and small scholarships that keep children in school—all of which have proven to increase the economic well-being of the very poor.

I think the concept of "a dollar a day for those who live on a dollar a day" really resonates with people and students in particular. I think the focus on the poorest of the poor and such activities as savings matches are a powerful medium to deliver aid that will breed self-reliance. The simplicity of the internet and setting up recurring payments through paypal has already been established by such organizations as Kiva. If ASAP plays their cards right in marketing and reaching their target population I think it could be very powerful.

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