Why Seeds is Not a Charity


Seeds is not a charity.

We’re not a charity, we’re not a nonprofit, we’re not an NGO. While we think many of those organizations are rad, we don’t belong in those categories. In fact, we don’t even think those categories always apply — we’re moving towards a world where these rigid definitions are starting to blend together. Seeds is a great example of that: we combine the best of all worlds, but at our core, we’re business. A high growth potential startup, to be exact.

Wait, what? I thought you were a vehicle for social good.

We are! Here’s a quick primer on how Seeds works:

Think of us as a Venmo or PayPal. When customers go to make an in-app purchase in one of our partner apps, users will pay through Seeds, which channels the money to our partner 4G Capital, a microloans institution in Africa that has provided $13.7 million in loans since its inception to entrepreneurs, 81% of which are women.

Here’s why we’re so powerful: Social good is the most effective way to get people to spend existing micro-amounts of money — $3 here, $10 there. As a result, Seeds inspires more spending, simultaneously helping others while solving a big problem for apps — 97% of all app users don’t buy anything, but Seeds users are up to 60% more likely to. Helping others and making money aren’t mutually exclusive. Under our approach, we create wins for everyone across the board, from the user making a socially conscious purchase to the appmaker earning more revenue to the lendee receiving a much-needed loan.

One of our microloan beneficiaries is Mary Maina, a Kenyan woman who’s been able to grow her bakery business from a one-person labor to a three-person operation. The proceeds go to provide, food, school supplies and health care for her three children. Microloans have made a real impact on Mary’s life, and they’re an easy way to channel a purchase you would have made anyway into capital for someone in need.

So it IS charity!

Not quite. A microloan is what it sounds like — a loan. It’s meant to be paid back, and our lendees do so at a rate of 98.5%. The money goes towards building economic capital for people who, for example, may be looking to expand their farm or kick off a weaving business. We’re increasing the amount of capital that’s available to people who have clear ideas of how to improve their economic circumstances. We’re also able to continue re-lending that capital in perpetuity, helping people over and over again.

Why microloans?

We wanted a solution that helps people sustainably. While it certainly makes sense to teach a man or woman to fish, that person ultimately needs a fishing pole, lure, tackle, bait — maybe even a boat. Microloans empower would-be fishers, farmers and business owners to procure what they already know they need. Many of our loan recipients say they don’t want charity. They don’t need a hand — they need capital to build out something they know is needed in their community. If Mary had never gotten access to our microloans, she never would have been able to grow her bakery to a thriving business. We provide that much-needed cash to people like Mary.

If Seeds is a for-profit, how do you make money?

The Seeds system is a win-win-win-win. There are four players: The appmaker, the user, the loan recipient and Seeds. Here’s how the system works for all of us:

Appmaker: Seeds increases in-app purchases by up to 60%, and our users spend 4x what normal buyers spend. The opportunity to do social good speaks to users in a big way, and it powers spending.

Users: Users get immense satisfaction and knowledge that they’re empowering motivated individuals in the developing world simply through the spending they do on fun — maybe it’s a meditation package on Aura or gems in Habitica — at either rate, they’re buying something they likely would have bought anyway, and contributing to social good in the process.

Loan recipients: Loan recipients get the cash infusion they need (sometimes all they need is $4!) to start a business, expand an enterprise or otherwise build an economic engine to sustain themselves and their families.

Seeds: Seeds takes a transaction fee for successfully inspiring a non-spender to start buying, and we share in the interest generated on the microloans.

Conclusion

Charities can be great, but Seeds isn’t one. If you want to make a difference through your everyday purchases, try an app that has Seeds embedded in it — Habitica, an awesome productivity app, Mini Golf Stars 2, a fun golf game, and Aura, the best meditation app for stress and anxiety, are three of our favorites. We’re excited about the potential to funnel millions of dollars to entrepreneurs both around the world and here at home, and can’t wait for you to be a part of our journey!