A group of Nigerian tech entrepreneurs have come together to crowdsource funds to stimulate the economy. They are providing funds for people affected by COVID-19.
Crowdsourcing funds from local and international donors, the group of Nigerian tech entrepreneurs distributes funds in tranches of ₦10,000 to people who have been impoverished by the outbreak of the novel coronavirus, alias COVID-19.
The group, aptly named "Better Angels", is made up of people, who say they "cannot sit by and do nothing while the world falls apart". They, however, clarified that the project is neither a company, charity nor a non-government organisation. Better Angels plan to cease operation by December 2020.
Launched on April 12, 2020, We Are Together is Better Angels' crowdsourcing platform where donations and applications for funds are made. The platform is powered by 12 partner-startups, namely, Accounteer, Bamboo, Bento (verifi.ng), drinks.ng, Future Africa, Hotels.ng, Hygeia HMO, IROKOtv, Paystack, Quidax, Zedvance, and Zrosk.
Better Angels revealed in an impassioned statement that the "spark" came out of verifi.ng (soon to renamed bento.africa). "We believe in bold ideas and we are mad enough to believe that we can crowdfund a fiscal stimulus", the statement reads. "The first person we called was Adedayo Amzat [founder] of Zedcrest Capital Group, who has been doing a lot of work on food donations. He got it right away, and the world is a better place thanks to people like him".
As of press time, Better Angels has received over ₦16 million from 162 donations and disbursed over ₦11 million to 1,160 people.
"Using a mix of sociology, economics, psychology, conflict theory and our understanding of the current situation, we have built a decision engine to ensure that donor funds get in the hands of those who need it the most", Better Angels explained.
Nonetheless, everyone is encouraged to apply using their correct biodata and bank verification number (BVN). Successful applicants are credited instantaneously and they can reapply after three weeks, while unsuccessful applicants can reapply after two weeks.
Since the first case of COVID-19 was announced in Nigeria on February 28, the tech community has responded swiftly.
Before the country was placed on lockdown in April, most startups had adopted company-wide work-from-home policy. Also, they have been providing palliatives for their staff, customers and the general public including the frontliners—medical practitioners.
Accelerators and hubs have been organising hackathons to identify tech solutions that could curb the spread of the deadly virus. Individual tech professionals are also playing their part. One of such individuals is Justin Irabor, a full stack web developer and head of growth at Eden.
On March 30, Justin launched Angel Among Us — a platform that enables people who are relatively financially secured to help those whose means of livelihood have been affected by COVID-19 outbreak. Thus removing the need for a middleman who collects donations and disburses funds.
"I wanted a solution beyond my personal limitations", Justin told to Zikoko. "An infinite pool of people helping an infinite amount of people without needing a middle man to drive the process".
The purest form of giving is anonymous to anonymous.
These are trying times and people need all the financial and emotional assistance they can get. "People are home, with most unable to generate any income to sustain themselves, businesses are shut and salaries are not guaranteed", Better Angels noted. "There are a lot of organizations working on the healthcare side and we commend them. We are working on the economic side".
Explaining the rationale behind the altruistic project, the group of Nigerian techpreneurs alluded to the modern economic theory posited by John Maynard Keynes.
Keynes submitted increased government spending is needed to kickstart the economy. But "what if government spending isn't the only way? What if we can crowdfund fiscal stimulus because it is in our collective interest to do so?" Better Angels queried. "This is what this is. We are crowdfunding fiscal stimulus. Those who have some will give to those who not have a lot in order to stem mass civil unrest and keep the economic engine churning".