First launched in 2019 as an initiative of Atlas Network’s Center for U.S. and Canada, the 2022 Smart Bets class represents 10 rising and established stars in our network who have all been selected to receive $35,000 in funding, with the opportunity to compete for an additional $50,000 in the Investors Summit for Liberty, held the day after Liberty Forum & Freedom Dinner 2021 in Miami, Florida. The two organizations that took top honors in the 2019 Investors Summit—the Property and Environment Research Center and the Cardinal Institute for West Virginia Policy—went on to become finalists for the prestigious Templeton Freedom Award in 2020 and 2021, respectively.
The 2022 Smart Bets encompass three U.S. states and seven countries representing five continents. Without further ado, here are this week’s featured 2022 Smart Bets:
Lebanese Institute of Market Studies
In Lebanon, politicians use the media to spin narratives absolving them of responsibility for the country’s growing problems. “Fake news” and manipulated statistics prevent the public from understanding the truth of why there are so many shortages of medicine and gasoline, why power outages happen so frequently, or why their money is worth less and less each day. Elites have used their power to enrich themselves at the expense of the Lebanese people, but their control of the media helps free them of any accountability. Atlas Network partner Lebanese Institute for Market Studies (LIMS) aims to change that dynamic.
LIMS plans to create Lebanon News and Opinion Website—or Lebanon NOW—as a hub for honest data, free-market opinion and economic analysis pieces, and journalism free from government spin. This content will include written articles, video content, and audio content. LIMS will make Lebanon NOW the leading economic database focused on Lebanon and will make that information more broadly accessible through data visualization. The platform will be live before the 2022 national elections so voters will be able to make informed decisions on who should lead their country, and it will advocate free-market solutions for the country’s challenges. LIMS will consider the project a success when mainstream media outlets begin running stories on the website’s data and analysis.
LIMS envisions Lebanon NOW as a modern, accessible, high-quality website, but that costs money to create. That’s where the Smart Bets grant comes in. Grant funding will allow LIMS to build a platform capable of hosting the variety of content they will produce and ensure that it is optimized for mobile devices. They would like to build the economic database so that it automatically updates as new information is published in the primary sources. Additional funding will allow the organization to fully deploy their marketing strategy to ensure the website gains traction among policymakers and the public.
Atlas Network has supported Lebanese Institute for Market Studies through grant funding.
Nkafu Policy Institute
At only six years old, Atlas Network’s Cameroonian partner Nkafu Policy Institute has already made a name for itself in the central Africa region. Cameroon, however, suffers from an extensive regulatory state and a pro-socialist mindset due to its colonial history, resulting in the country ranking in the “least free” category in the Fraser Institute’s annual Economic Freedom of the World report. Nkafu is dedicated to changing that. They are advocating for individual rights, economic agency, and improved government institutions to free Cameroonians to achieve their full potential. Now that the organization is firmly established, they are excited to take the next step to expand their reach and influence.
Nkafu Policy Institute has a plan to address the core challenges in Economic Affairs, Health Policy and Research, Governance and Democracy, and Peace and Security. Accomplishing this goal requires the dedication of more seasoned policy experts than they currently have on staff. Nkafu has an abundance of promising junior scholars but not the experienced senior analysts and fellows they need. To address this, the organization has developed the Nkafu Fellows Program. This initiative will focus on recruiting policy experts for its four core policy areas who will mentor junior analysts, lead the production of Nkafu’s flagship publications, head the quarterly Nkafu Debates on policy, and champion major policy forums across the African continent.
Smart Bets funding will allow the organization to launch the Nkafu Fellows Program. The organization believes they will multiply that funding’s impact tenfold over the next few years through additional trust and investment from established donors. A successfully launched program will empower Nkafu’s growth from a promising young organization to an influential group with continent-wide impact. The ability to produce high-quality research with recognized experts will enable Nkafu to encourage real change for all Cameroonians and across the central Africa subregion.
Atlas Network has supported Nkafu Policy Institute through grant funding.