It seems difficult to believe that I’ve been back in Colorado and working full-time with our B2P team since last fall. My year spent pursuing an MBA at Saïd Business School at the University of Oxford flew by, and I learned so much that I’m excited to now be integrating into our approach to solving the problem of rural isolation at scale. I always knew that our work in transportation infrastructure was unique and compelling, but spending hours each day entrenched in the world of financing, balance sheets, marketing, and strategy shifted my perspective. Over the course of my time with B2P – going on 12 years – I’ve experienced firsthand the impact we create. It’s why I insist potential partners get down to a bridge site…seeing the challenges communities face pre-construction, and the transformative access a bridge creates, is life-altering.
Sitting in the classroom at Oxford, I began to look at safe access as a business proposition. What value were we creating for isolated residents, government transportation agencies, and national economies?
When investors look at buying in to a business, they assess a number of things. How stable is the leadership? Is the company’s performance consistent and reliable? Do you have a unique product with a sizeable market audience? But weighted far more heavily than these things is the rate of return – how much money will you make them? If they invest a dollar, how much will they get paid back?
Charitable investors aren’t all that different from capital investors, when it comes down to it. When you donate a dollar to a cause, you want to believe that dollar has power. It’s creating return, and you’re being paid back, though it may be in a general bettering of society, or a brighter future for your children, rather than money in the bank.
What’s the rate of return on a dollar invested in B2P?
Let’s put some numbers to it. In 2014, we partnered with economists from the University of Notre Dame to complete a randomized controlled trial studying the impact of a footbridge on communities in rural Nicaragua. The results of the study were remarkable: households in communities receiving a bridge saw a 75% increase in farm profits, a 32% increase in labor market income, and a 30% increase in household income, all in a single year. For rural residents living on less than $2.00 a day, this additional income opens the door to new opportunity.
For a typical rural family of five in Rwanda, for example, who lives off of $400 a year, a 30% increase in household income puts an additional $120 in their pockets. When you consider that a B2P footbridge in Rwanda serves an average of 1,500 people, or 300 households, that’s an additional $36,000 in economic activity generated for a community annually. Given the relatively low cost of a B2P-designed footbridge, that’s a rate of return of more than 50%.
In these numbers, I see the people I’ve met on bridge sites around the world. The farmers who are now willing to invest in seed and fertilizer because they’re confident that they can reach the market year-round. The women who seek out jobs in the village center because they no longer worry that they won’t make it home in time to cook dinner for their families. And the parents who now have enough money to pay school fees for their three children.
Behind every financial calculation is real, transformative change for struggling families.
How powerful is your dollar when you invest with B2P? We can give you hard numbers, and they’re pretty compelling. But know that in building safe access for isolated communities, the impact of your contribution ripples out beyond any tangible, calculable analysis. You’ve created opportunity, potential, and freedom, and that’s pay-off you can bank on.
‘Til next time,