This is not about the technology, but about building a new relationship with our donors and beneficiaries. We owe it to all of them to become more transparent and accountable, and restore trust in our sector.
— Filip Lammens, CEO of VIA Don Bosco
VIA Don Bosco invests around 9 million euros in education and employment in Africa and Latin America every year. About half their funding comes from the Belgian government and the other half are donations from individuals, companies, and foundations.
With the implementation of a new blockchain application, powered by the SettleMint Platform, the NGO takes the next step towards ensuring that every donation is used properly and in the most effective way. VIA Don Bosco believes that blockchain technology can help them not only optimize their financial processes, but also significantly decrease or even eliminate fraudulent use of funds.
By taking advantage of the shared database capabilities of blockchain technology, all financial proof is visible, verified and validated by all stakeholders in real-time. It reduces the usual six months required for reconciliation, verification, and validation of the financial information for each school and office in each country, to mere seconds.
The immutability of data ensures that the whole system is tamper-proof and thus fraud-resistant. Moreover, only information that is already compliant with the rules associated to the funding and donations, is accepted into the system (compliance by design). This simplifies the process of reconciliation, verification, and validation of financial information, and drastically reduces the administrative overhead by 70%!
Whereas blockchain technology can appear complex, the system itself is set up in a very user-friendly way. School accountants use their smartphone, and interact with Facebook Messenger to enter expense data via an automated chatbot guiding them through the expense submission process. Since chat-based data transfer is very lightweight, they can even complete the process from the most remote areas. The submission is checked against the rules for various expense types which are encoded in the underlying smart contracts. In this way, no information can be entered into the system that does not comply with donor rules (compliance by design).
Proof and reporting is done via a simple website. Once information is submitted, it is immediately visible throughout the approval chain. Depending on the role of the user in the system, they can submit, add information and review, accept or reject financial proof for expenses. The reporting tool offers a complete and transparent audit trail for spend, reducing the time needed to check the financial information for every school and every office in every country from 6 months to mere seconds.
The SettleMint Platform fully handles the connections from the Facebook chatbot and the reporting website, to the underlying blockchain technology. This allowed VIA Don Bosco to implement the solution without an IT department.
VIA Don Bosco drastically reduced administrative overhead by creating an efficient and transparent donation-tracking system that is tamper-proof and fraud-resistant.
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