Glo Dollar creates three kinds of public goods

Hi! I’m Emily, Glo Dollar’s new Head of Community.

You may have heard about Glo via the GreenPill podcast, at ETHDenver, or somewhere else on the internet. If you aren’t familiar with us, Glo is a nonprofit stablecoin that generates basic income for people living in extreme poverty.

It’ll work like this:

  • we’re a fully-backed stablecoin pegged to the US dollar;
  • our reserve assets will be held in a mix of cash and short-term T-bills;
  • T-bills provide interest yield;
  • we’ll give that yield (in fiat) to GiveDirectly, a nonprofit;
  • GiveDirectly will send the money to people living in extreme poverty.

Basically, the more dollars held in Glo, the more people we’ll lift out of extreme poverty.

In this post, I’d like to make the case that Glo creates public goods beyond the basic income we generate for vulnerable people. Some of these aren’t planetary-scale public goods (i.e. they’re not asteroid defense), so they benefit some people more than others. But in every case we think there will be positive spillovers. Let’s explore a few of them:

  1. Ending poverty is a public good.
  1. Glo will provide open source materials for the web3/tech communities at large.
  • Glo’s open-source codebase is a digital public good on how to write a smart contract. It will be available on the Ethereum & Polygon blockchains.

  • We’re also working on a public handbook, like the one GitLab uses.

  • We could well be the first group to both make a serious dent on extreme poverty alleviation and simultaneously create a how-to guide of our methods.

  • We touch several industries: web3, philanthropy, social welfare, applied research, and finance, to name a few. We’d like to share all learnings with folks working in any one of those fields, as well as folks trying to thread a similar needle.

  • Even if we fail – which we hope doesn’t happen – a record of our journey would still be valuable.

  1. We hope to create positive reputational spillovers for web3 at large.
  • A lot of crypto actors have given web3 a bad rap with regulators and the public. Basically, people have lost trust in the industry’s potential for good.
  • We want to counteract this.
  • Noteworthy: a lot of social impact crypto groups are working on complex, ecosystem-specific projects that are hard to explain to outsiders, e.g. quadratic funding. This isn’t a knock against them, just an observation that there is an open lane for a crypto group whose impact is super easy to explain to anyone.
  • We aim to do that.
    • Because we invest the bulk of our reserve in T-bills, we can count on steady, predictable returns, which will translate directly into dollars donated to GiveDirectly. This doesn’t require any web3 experience to grok.
    • GiveDirectly does an exceptional job at documenting impact.
    • We can instantly calculate the outcomes your dollars will have.
  • Overall we hope to contribute to a general reevaluation of crypto. We think this could help with unlocking funding, enabling adoption, and allowing the blockchain to reach its full potential– making way for the next generation of high-impact projects we haven’t yet imagined.

If this appeals to you, we’ve got a few ways we’d appreciate your help:

First, we’re in the Gitcoin metacrisis grant round (until May 9th!) and we’d be grateful for your support.

Second, We’re seeking early adopters who are excited about our mission and happy to tell their friends about us. Joining Glo’s community in its earliest days will have an outsized impact on our trajectory and materially help us move from 0 to 1.

Happy to discuss further in the comments!

Thanks to my colleague Seth Green for research and editing.