Recently, I was interviewed by THNK, school of creative leadership, which I attended in 2012.
Find the interview by THNK’s Sophie Poulsen here, or below:
At the end of 2017, the number of forcibly displaced people reached a record high of 68.5 million. Fueled by the crises in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Myanmar, as well as the ongoing conflict in Syria, the number of displaced people is higher than it was after the Second World War.
Sadly, it is not very difficult to detach ourselves from human suffering when it is not happening in front of us.
How can we build authentic connections with people who are not that dissimilar to us and who, more importantly, desperately need our help?
Changing the way we give
LittleBitz originated from a group of people across the public and private sectors – from McKinsey and private investors to UNICEF and government workers – who saw an opportunity to change the way we give.
“Our big ambition is to do what Uber did to the transport sector and what Airbnb did to the housing sector. We’re connecting people,” says Pepijn van Dijk, THNK Class 1 participant and Director of LittleBitz.
Instead of giving your money to an organization, LittleBitz makes it possible to send money directly to an individual listed in the UNHCR’s database of displaced persons. The database contains ample information like their living conditions, their past medical history, and the size of their family, providing a “strong KYC,” as Pepijn puts it.
In essence, LittleBitz cuts out of the middleman, allowing you to upload “digital change” to your wallet and donate directly to an individual of your choice.
LittleBitz was designed to meet modern demand for transparency. “It’s pretty outdated to say ‘just trust me,’” according to Pepijn. This is why every time you donate through LittleBitz, you receive a confirmation of withdrawal from the donee.
Pepijn believes that “by making it more transparent, people’s insight and understanding of the situation will grow.” In other words, LittleBitz fosters empathy by connecting donors with the people to which they donate.
NGOs are trying to modernize and new aid models are popping up, such as the WFP’s Building Blocks program and 100WEEKS.
According to Pepijn, though, there is still a ways to go, as the humanitarian aid sector is typically “a bit wary of adopting real digital change” because of its “culture comes from a business model that doesn’t give incentives to adapt to markets. Change and innovation are not rewarded. So, why change?”
While LittleBitz removes the middleman from the equation, Pepijn insists that they “don’t want to kill NGOs.” Rather, they want to build a platform that NGOs can use once it is proved successful and ready to scale.
There are over 60 million displaced people who need help – and it is not a question of whether we can help them, but how we can help them. LittleBitz is doing something the aid sector has been trying to do for years: using tech to face the global issues of our time.
***The LittleBitz app will be piloted in December.