Xavier Damman
2016, Belgium
Social movements will have better financial support via the internet thanks to his platform
Internet and Web

Thanks to the internet, anyone can launch a crowdfunding campaign to raise funds. Whether the aim be to commercialize a product or carry out social work, the only prerequisites are having a cause and, of course, a bank account. It sounds simple, but in order to create a bank account associated to a group of people, this group must be formally constituted as a legal entity, something that involves formalities and paperwork, and can prove to be a lengthy endeavor. The young Belgian Xavier Damman felt this requirement was "an old-fashioned concept from the 19th century, totally inappropriate for the era of internet", so he created Open Collective, "a new type of association for the internet generation." This idea led to Damman´s selection as one of MIT Technology Review´s Innovator Under 35 Belgium 2016 awards.

Damman was very familiar with the world of entrepreneurship and new technologies, as he had already harvested his first success in Silicon Valley (USA) with his start-up Storify. So when that company was acquired by a larger enterprise, the young Belgian returned home with the aim of achieving legislative changes that would encourage entrepreneurship and the creation of tech companies. But when it came to initiating the social movement platform to support his cause, he found himself under the obligation to create a legal entity in order to raise the funds he needed to print posters and stickers announcing the demonstration.

This was how Damman decided to create Open Collective, a platform that supports fundraising and allows these funds to be managed totally transparently, so that anyone can see how the money collected has been spent. The young entrepreneur criticizes how "creating a non-profit organization in the United States can take up to two years" due to the bureaucracy involved. This sluggishness clashes with the immediate need to channel the social response to catastrophes like hurricanes and earthquakes. For this reason, Damman insists that "creating an association should be as easy as creating a Facebook group."

The general director of BNP Paribas Fortis, Maxime Jadot, calls Damman´s project "very visionary, with the potential to become a disruptive innovation." In the opinion of this Innovators Under 35 Belgium 2016 jury member, "some would say that this idea will be blocked by legislations, but ideas like this are what cause the norm evolve."

Text in Spanish from its original source: MIT Technology Review Spanish edition