Rebecca Winthrop

In response to Pitch us on your solution

there is also a major problem with mis-aligned training programs (e.g. programs not of good quality)...

Dr. Nat Ware

Yes, you're completely right. That's one of the things we solve for. Too often funding for training programs occurs in a way that incentives aren't aligned. Often there is no or limited incentive to find the high-quality and most relevant training, and then to ensure that training is of the highest quality. In our model, social and financial returns are perfectly aligned, so there is the incentive to have the highest-quality and most relevant training.

Prof. Martha Sañudo

In response to Select the key characteristics of the population in Latin America and the Caribbean your solution serves (or will serve).

A reminder here that the very poor often pay no taxes or very little taxes. Why would investors want to invest on them?

Dr. Nat Ware

I think you are misunderstanding the model. The whole point of the FORTE approach is to take individuals who are on medium to low incomes, provide them with high-quality training so that they are then more able to get good jobs and enter the formal economy. Obviously not everyone will pay taxes, but even if only 1 in every 5 individuals that receive high-quality training end up paying tax, the model still works mathematically. As such, it is irrelevant whether individuals pay tax prior to training. What matters is whether some proportion of individuals who receive training are then (in the future) able to earn a decent income. There is a wide body of evidence to prove that this is indeed the case.

We already have over 120 confirmed investors who want to invest in individuals using the FORTE approach. They want to invest because with Forte they are able to both make a financial return from the investment and also genuinely help those most in need. Importantly, the profit that investors make from this does not come at the expense of individuals! So there is no tradeoff between social and financial returns.

Prof. Martha Sañudo

In response to Why do you expect your solution to address the problem?

It is not clear why investors would not prefer certain specific profiles or outcomes of the individuals they are investing. Why not invest on training of higher income?

Dr. Nat Ware

Glad you asked this question! The group of individuals that are helped is not chosen by investors, so there is no possibility of bias. Individuals are grouped together.

In addition, the profit function of investors is not based on actual income levels, but on the change/improvement in incomes. So if training leads to an increase in income from $3,000 to $13,000, that leads to the same return to investors as if the income of a higher income individual increased by $10,000. The full math behind this can be found in the Oxford PhD research that we are happy to provide!

As such, there is neither an incentive to only help high income individuals, nor is there a possibility of that even if investors wanted to!

Prof. Martha Sañudo

In response to What is your solution?

I find it intriguing that the whole project does not tell us more about the investors... who would be interested in investing in such scheme?

Dr. Nat Ware

We already have over 120 investors interested in financing the reskilling using the FORTE approach. A lot of investors at the moment want to help those affected by the Coronavirus pandemic but also need to meet their financial obligations. Forte provides them with a way to do that. They can do well and do good at the same time.

For example, many foundations want to invest their endowments in a way that is consistent with their giving arms. Many impact investors want a double bottom line (and this is a perfect example of social and financial returns being aligned).

Prof. Martha Sañudo

In response to Who are you serving?

Would investors mind that some of the people wanting reskilling are not young?

Dr. Nat Ware

This model applies and works for any group of people where they have the possibility of working for another few years. So it can work for the vast majority of the population. In fact, this is a way of helping address aging populations, as this model can reskill workers in their 50s and 60s so they can keep working if they want for another few years. This is a way of solving youth unemployment and improving the dependency ratio.

Obviously this model does not apply to extremely young people (under 10 years) and people who are retired and have no interest in working again. However, as previously mentioned, just because a solution does not solve 100% of problems or apply to 100% of people is not an argument against it. There is not a single idea or solution in the world that applies in 100% of cases. For example, if one vaccine works perfectly for one disease but not for another disease, does that make it a bad vaccine? Of course not. In a similar way, this solution works and is a great solution.

This solution can help the vast majority of people.

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