Free Rice–Play, Learn and Do Good

I’ve been following the use of technology in social entrepreneurship for the past few years. A social entrepreneur is someone who recognizes a social problem then organizes, operates and assumes risk, as in a business, to create social change. The goal is to utilize market forces to achieve some social good. Technology leaders like Pierre Omidyar of eBay are very active in social entrepreneurship. Of course not everyone has the capital of the Omidyar Foundation, but everyone can make a difference and technology allows us to make a big difference together.

I recently learned about Free Rice. Free Rice donates 10 grains of rice to hungry people around the world through the UN World Food Program for every word you get right in an online word matching quiz. In 2008 the combined efforts of all players donated 43,942,622,700 grains of rice. At 50,000 grains per 1kg bag, that’s about 878,852 bags of rice.

So how was so much rice donated in 2008? Answer: The network effect. Social media utilities like Facebook allow us to make a big difference together through our social networks. Yes, it’s on Facebook too. Imagine if every time your friends log into Facebook, they answer ten questions and their friends answer ten questions, and so on. If your social network, like the internet, is scale free, and you have lots of friends, then you have the ability to help fill a lot of bags.

So if you love challenges, especially word games, in addition to doing some good you can have fun and keep your vocabulary sharp.

Play, Learn and Do Good !