Over the weekend, my team participated in this cool event (full blog post available here ). We devised a microloan network, powered by Bitcoin, that would help students connect to successful people in their networks. This is harmonizing a bit with Meena's awesome post.
I thought I'd share some of our research findings from the prototyping phase.
Our prototype starts with the story of Suzanna, a (fabricated) college student majoring in anthropology (GPA 3.5). She's got this amazing internship offer to study bathing rituals in Jerusalem but it's unpaid, and she's not sure she can afford it on her own.
We interviewed a friend of mine Julia (a real person!) who used a crowdfunding site to raise funds for a similar opportunity. She told us that :
a lot of other people in my program had a difficult time crafting their campaigns because they felt guilty asking people for money to help them get to Ghana, even if it was for a good cause
We thought: How might we design a way for individuals to raise funds in a way that leaves them feeling empowered and confident?
We made this sharpie drawing of a micro-loan interface (see above image) and walked around asking people if they would rather give money to a general fund, that the recipient had flexibility with how they wanted to use it (the drawing on the left), or if they would rather buy something specific for that person (the drawing on the right). We found that people feel overwhelmingly more comfortable supporting someone in need by investing in something specific (this is why some people would rather give food than money to a homeless person). We were surprised to uncover another interesting insight: People liked to use their choice of what to buy as an expressive gesture (for example: "I'm a photographer, so I bought Suzanna's camera, since I like photography).
So, in short:
people might be more apt to support each other financially if they know exactly where the money is going
people used this choice as an expressive gesture, which makes it fun to invest in others!
Check out the full blog post for more info about the project.