Practical solution to addressing multidimensional poverty: Champions app

November 21, 2023

Multidimensional poverty plagues the globe and prevents people from realizing their potential and contributing meaningfully to society. Responses from government and philanthropy are overly bureaucratic and disconnected from the poor themselves, often resulting in a lack of opportunity for people to exercise personal agency and decision making.

A Rising Tide funded project aims to disrupt this existing system, increasing personal freedom and activating personal action through an integration of two easily accessible platforms – Poverty Stoplight and Myne technologies.

Myne is an agency-orientated software using proven gamification techniques to empower individuals, families, and communities to see how their actions contribute to their growth. Poverty Stoplight is a global movement with an effective bottom-up methodology and technology platform that activates the potential of families to identify and own their poverty-related challenges.

Fiona Hall, Co-Founder of Myne software, is currently working on integrating Myne with the globally used tool, Poverty Stoplight, to create meaningful measurement tools for nonprofits and businesses. We caught up with her to discuss the launch of this new app— Myne Champions.

The idea

One thing that became very apparent early on for Fiona after joining Behind Every Door was how inefficient nonprofits were in collecting data. Employed previously in the technology space, Fiona recognized how easily this work could be facilitated. Working with 5–18-year-olds, they began using software to engage youth and share their own data with them to encourage learning. Through this process of being supported and seeing their own data, these young people started taking ownership of their learning outcomes.

“At Behind Every Door we really believe that people are important and powerful—we wanted to not only provide services, but actually include them in the process and really confirm that we believed they were capable,” Fiona explained. Fiona and Will Dowell, CEO of Behind Every Door, realized the tremendous growth in value that these software tools could have if they were gamified. The two of them went to different software companies and requested gamification to be incorporated into existing apps, but the companies felt it was unnecessary and refused. So, Fiona and Will decided to do it themselves. Behind Every Door’s focus is on building relationships and running community centers though, and not as a software company. They had to evolve into a new thing – which became Myne.

The benefits of data sharing

“We ended up building the platform that now became Myne, where the goal was to help organizations easily assess their impact,” Fiona explained. With Myne, young people could easily see the correlation between their attendance and their progress and personal development—giving them the confidence to move from dependency to independence. The idea for the app was to help share back more of the impact of people’s efforts, motivating them to continue making progress.

“That is the basis for why this software was called Myne,” Fiona told us, “The idea of ownership, discovery (i.e. mining), and relationship.” Her and Will Dowell realized that “people are willing to give data if they understand the exchange.”

While the development of Myne was taking place, Will and Fiona were both reading about the Poverty Stoplight. Using a technology platform, the Poverty Stoplight offers a self-assessment survey and intervention model that enables people to develop practical solutions to overcome their specific needs. Will and Fiona always wanted to incorporate simple goal setting into their work and believing strongly in the Poverty Stoplight methodology, they set up a hub known as Dallas Lights, where organizations could actually use the Poverty Stoplight tool.

Around this time, Fiona became aware of Signal, a UK-based Poverty Stoplight hub operating in her hometown. She reached out to find out if they might be interested in working together to combine the Poverty Stoplight methodology with their Myne technology. “We both have the underlying belief that people are powerful. And if you give them this information in simple ways, they are the ones who can make the decisions about their life.”

The birth of Champions

The Myne Champions App integrates with the Poverty Stoplight through a feature called My Light, showing the priority areas and relevant resources to address these needs. It addresses two current pain points: 1) directly connecting participants to their resources and 2) showing the impact of daily decisions on large goals in a smaller feedback loop. Historically, people were dependent on a facilitator to address their priority needs. Now, a digital solution has removed these bottlenecks and app users can access recommended resources and act immediately, while also being aided by a facilitator’s local knowledge.

By taking action, users are then rewarded in the app in the form of nuggets. Fiona, who also has a master’s degree in neuroscience explains, “We are essentially trying to activate all the parts of our brain to get us going.” In the app, this can take the form of watching an explainer video, hearing the story of someone who has addressed the same issue, or providing access to a local organization that can help.

Other than the integration of Poverty Stoplight through the My Light feature, the app also boasts a journal where users can document their journey, individual and group messaging, peer support, as well as personalized QR codes that connect Champions to the rest of the Myne Platform. The platform includes gamification features, connected reporting, and a unique framework for collecting social-emotional data, as well as simple check-in features.  The goal of the integration with Poverty Stoplight is to combine two complementary methodologies through technology to allow both to scale in different dimensions and sectors, driving further disruption and better outcomes for individuals.

When inquiring as to how the name Champions came about for the app, Fiona explained that they surveyed the community that would actually be using the app. One woman remarked, “I am a champion; I think it should be called Champions.” Others agreed, and so Champions came to be. It crystallized the sense of value that Myne wants individuals to understand they possess.

Both the people and organizations at the UK-based Poverty Stoplight hub are excited about Champions. “The opportunity to help people directly, unburden the facilitators, and give this empowerment back to people—that’s very attractive to them,” Fiona remarks.

Moving forward

When Fiona thinks about where they could go next—she believes that by continuing to empower people through their own data, the opportunities are endless. “I am massively encouraged by machine-learning and what we can learn from that—if we do it safely.” With regards to data protection and security, Fiona commented, “We really want to make sure that trust is there when people share information with us… and that it’s an enjoyable experience.” The data that is collected is not simply used to inform organizations about people, but more so to inform and empower users themselves.

When asked about who has access to the Champions app, Fiona responded “Our strategy is to use organizations like Signal that want it, need it, and are ready to go.” While Signal is familiar with and using the Poverty Stoplight tool, there are others that do not know about the tool but are still keen to use the Champions app for its other features—then can learn about the Poverty Stoplight methodology through the app. “We are excited about being able to share the Stoplight’s work with others.” In the process of piloting in the UK, we have learnt a lot about organizational capacity, and we dream of the opportunity to make Champions available to every household in the UK, with the clients at the center of the process.

While the Champions app does not replace the Poverty Stoplight tool, it does complement the methodology and encourage people to achieve their goals. Users take the survey, and all the data is uploaded to the Champions app through the My Light feature.

The communities already using the Champions app are very enthusiastic—they continue to assess how they can use the app to help the people they are working with. Organizations, as the heartbeat, remain at the center and allow the app to be community-focused. “I really believe in this idea of a local physical presence; we can capitalize on digital tools but, so far, cannot completely replace the physical presence,” Fiona explains.

With regards to next steps, Fiona was excited to say that they are ready to bring the technology to more people. “It is potentially limitless… let’s go global!” There are more and new ways to build on the gamification features and translating the app to different languages will allow them to reach new audiences. They see Champions as an ideal tool for tackling poverty and promoting prosperity. “The thing you win with Champions is your own achievement.”

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