Bridging Continents, One Meal at a Time
August 15, 2014
Franklin Taylor, Centscere
There’s a simple reason why millions remain hungry on a planet with enough food for everyone: we’re not digitally connected.
That doesn’t seem right – the number of Internet users in developing countries has doubled in the last five years; by 2017, a quarter of Africans will own a smartphone. Already, India’s Internet-connected population has surpassed that of the United States.
Yet amid this growing online mass, few will connect with the West on any common plane of life. Africa’s slum-dwellers will not start calling Uber; Southeast Asian farmers will not be buying from Amazon; and Peruvian schoolchildren will not start reading the New York Times. Indeed, it seems safe to say that most who come online will hold needs considerably different from our own.
But make no mistake, global interconnectivity presents at least one massive opportunity: the chance to end hunger.
Earlier this year, the Case Foundation (established by AOL founder Steve Case and his wife Jean) published its annual Millennial Impact Report. Through endless surveys and behavioral studies, the report strives to pinpoint the conditions that engage young people with charity. Case identifies one distinct conclusion: “Millennials engage with causes to help other people, not institutions.”
Across the world, nonprofits are witnessing this in action: a decline of traditional fundraising and the growth of something more encompassing, intimate and human. It is rapidly evolving towards what I term “shared experience” – a concept that extends beyond social media and crowdfunding to the complete integration between a donor and someone in need.
Designing such an experience is the mission of my business, Centscere, a B Corp founded in 2012. Our patent pending web application, the Social Media Donation System, enables individuals to donate a few cents every time they tweet on Twitter, post on Facebook or click ‘Like’.
We attract new, young donors with accessible stories that illuminate the needs of the impoverished. Once engaged, donors can seamlessly transform their daily activity into meals, medicine and water wells. The result is envelopment in the lives of poor people.
Centscere holds the firm belief that ending hunger requires humanity to commit a greater portion of existing economic and political resources. We know, for instance, that the amount of food waste generated by the West each year exceeds all food production in sub-Saharan Africa. We know that if everyone in the United States and Europe gave $0.25 each day, no person on the planet would go hungry. Most importantly, we know, in the words of FAO Director-General Jacques Diouf, that “defeating hunger is a realistic goal for our time.”
Like the dreamt-of Gibraltar Bridge, Centscere seeks to finally unify the developing and the developed worlds. We’re amassing, analyzing and disambiguating data on everything from the campaigns that generate the most support of young people to the time of day they are most likely to give, to the forms of content and rhetoric that most engage them. Still, increased organizational support is a massive hurdle that remains. Against the Internet culture consuming Generation Y like an outbreak of salmonella, we need your help to fight hunger, one cent a time.