International development aid and tech startups is an unlikely but promising combination, as shown by Aspectus Ltd, a Finland-based startup that officially launched its online donation portal, Bank4Hope, on Tuesday.
Donations to developing countries have long been plagued by the lack of transparency and people are often hesitant to give away their hard earned pennies if the money has no concrete destination. This is the problem that Aspectus wants to address. Bank4Hope is the first online portal that allows private and corporate donors to follow their donations in real-time and get direct feedback from the beneficiaries themselves.
The portal’s concept is quite similar to that of Kiva.org. Bank4Hope basically acts as an intermediary between individual donors and non-profit aid organizations that help the people in need. The aid organizations present their projects on the Bank4Hope portal, which may range from a 5 € computer course to 19 year old woman in Tanzania to building a 330 € health camp in Nepal. Donors can then opt for a monthly donation (min. 15 € for private, 50 € for corporate) or a smaller, one-time donation in cases of critical need. Each donation is earmarked to a certain project and donors receive information and statistics about the project in real-time.
Bank4Hope is currently in beta and you can only donate through Fida International for the time being. Aspectus is looking to grow the number of partner organizations through Tekes funding. Bank4Hope’s goal is to reach 150 000 monthly donors by 2015.
Aspectus Ltd was founded in 2010 by Kari-Pekka Murtonen and Joel Takala. The startup is currently housed at the Aalto University Start-Up Center incubator in Helsinki, Finland.