The #SC4SV fund is the EdgeRyders network acting as a capital fund. By putting time and specialized skills (like language or design skills) at the disposal of new small enterprises, we take what we have (skills, time and talent) and use it to fill in the gaps left by what we don’t have: access to investments of financial capital. This is self-help into employment for a largely unfunded generation. We can help each other to help ourselves.
Why are we doing this?
The crisis deprives us of access to Capital, without which we cannot innovate, because if the innovation does not immediately succeed, we’re homeless. A large scale culture of innovation requires a large scale culture of investment, and the money poured out of Education and Health into the banks is not returning to us in the form of access to investment. Our cultures are stuck.
To get out of this cycle of decline, we need access to “Countercyclical Capital” - something which gets more available as economic conditions get worse. Fortunately, this kind of Capital exists - it’s called Human Capital. It’s talented people without jobs, without incomes, without fully-utilized talents. As the economy ceases to provide work or affordable education, people become idle, and that’s our reserve of Countercyclical Capital. We buck the trend!
Our job, therefore, is to organize this Countercyclical Capital - that’s us, we under-financed masses, yearning to create - into a form which permits Countercyclical Investment. We form a social organization, like a labour union, which permitsus to Collectivize our strengths, in a form which lets us change the way the world works for us and others. This improves our negotiating position, by making Talent powerful without access to (financial) Capital, and it might allow us to provide the much-needed innovation to help our societies out of their stuckness. The idea is to “finance” new positive, local projects using the collective power of an extended social network, with a commitment-based social structure to give us the ability to make decisions in a timely and business-like manner. You can read more about reasoning behind the idea here.
Is this a time bank?
No it isn’t. Time banks encourage members to exchange labour. In these systems, participants’ time is used as “cash” - as an alternative to currency for small transactions. To the best of our knowledge, the transformative steps to turn participant commitments into a capital resource have never been taken.We ask our participants to commit a few days per year to the SC4SE fund. This time is pre-committed to the fund; That means the fund can value the assets given to it, and assure the enterprises it grants support to that they will get the help they need to get off the ground, unlike time banks which require continual fundraising efforts. A SC4SE Grant consists of a given number working hours. Participants from our network collaborate to self-organize this support in the form most useful to the enterprise. Typical uses might be design, translation or project communications review. It could also be used for remote jobs like scouting locations or giving presentations in a faraway city when funding is too scarce to travel there yourself.
Phase 1 - volunteers (no money/capital)
In this phase the Venture Social Capital Fund (VSCF) works as an interface between Edgeryders-volunteers and the clients. Edgeryders-volunteers are people from the Edgeryders community who commit to devote one day of their time + their skills to a project presented by the client. Clients are individuals, organizations, etc. who have an idea that can benefit their local community but who lack support in the form of volunteer work/expertise. At this point the Fund is not institutionalized.
- Creating a base of volunteers. Volunteers recruited to the VSCF indicate the skills they have and want to “donate” (one day per year). They are grouped in guilds according to the type of their skills (i.e. translators, developers, legal consultants); each guild chooses a guild master and a person that will serve as a back-up for the guild master. The guild master is responsible for collecting information about the skills but also interests and passions of VSCF volunteers. The data collected should then be written down and shared. The role of a guild master is also to facilitate the choice and the connection between a volunteer and a client.
- First contact with the client. Client sends the project description to the VSCF and explains what kind of volunteer support is required. The decision on wether the project receives support is done in a way similar to the funding of projects through crowdfunding platforms -- if there are people willing to donate their time to project, the project gets the support. Additionally, a background check will be ran to find out whether there are any adverse or dangerous aspects of the project (or client-related).
- Assigning volunteers. Guild masters inform volunteers about the project that needs help. If a volunteer is interested in supporting the initiative, he/she informs the guild master about it (the information should be available for everyone in order to avoid chaos) and gets in touch with the client. The VSCF plays no additional role in the process. The agreement is between the client and the volunteer individually.
- Job done - story collecting. After the volunteers’ job is done and the project is realized, the client should send to the VSCF a follow-up information about how the project develops and give feedback to the volunteers. As a result, VSCF should build a database of supported projects and cooperation history, which will later on be used in Phase 2 of the project.
Issues to be solved:
- What software do we use for databases and communication?
- Who choses the guild masters and how long do they hold the position? Who checks clients and their projects?
Phase 2 - consultancy (money/capital)
The ER Venture Social Capital lead to questioning the organizational form of ER. After a first kick-off phase during which the volunteers meet the clients needs through a “guild master”, the creation of an consultancy interface between the ER VSCF and the client would be created in order to take in charge legal, financial intellectual property issues. The costs of the consultancy would be covered by the client (in kind, cash) to which the volunteering service is assured. Process step-by-step Each ER is worth 200€ for his 1 day of work. As a start, the network would count on 1000 ER worth 200.000€ of work value. As the network grows through reputation, p2p advising, ecc., the skill bank is going to be more diverse as well as better mapped. The ER VSCF is characterized not only for the quality of the volunteer work, but for a collective approach to specific client needs: the single needs are introduced into the community skill map, which can feed in and advise although only 1 volunteer will be appointed to the task. Collective intelligence is one of the main resources of the ER VSCF. The growing ER VSCF will inevitably lead to issues linked to funding, business, intellectual property, and tackle the organizational form.
More issues to be solved:
- What is the turning point for the formation of the consultancy interface?
- How are the ER in charge of the interface chosen?
- Evaluation ex-post of the work