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:
Colombo, Sri Lanka
Atlas Network’s Sri Lankan partner Advocata Institute was accepted as a contestant in our 2021 Smart Bets event for their bid to create AdvocataX, a plan to build a business unit at the organization capable of researching, drafting, and delivering top-to-bottom policy plans and model legislation to lawmakers. Advocata Institute has seen that lawmakers are open to and supportive of essential reform but lack the time and resources necessary to structure reforms. As a proof-of-concept, Advocata proposes to apply their plan to what they hope will be an easy win: “Easy Startups,” a start-up business regulation reform.
Currently, Sri Lankan entrepreneurs have to operate under a framework enacted in 1918. The required procedures are so difficult and time-consuming that Advocata estimates that one-third of small businesses remain unregistered and languish in the informal economy. Government officials are sympathetic to the plight of entrepreneurs and are willing to make reforms, but they simply don’t have the technical expertise from which to redesign the regulatory environment. That’s where Advocata Institute comes in. By working with legal and policy experts, they will draft model legislation laying out modernized and simplified procedures for business registration, tax payments, and more. This will significantly ease the burden on legislators and move reform towards becoming a reality, increasing the quality of governance, securing the tax base, and providing a more stable environment for businesses.
When completed, Easy Startups will allow Advocata Institute to prove the effectiveness of the AdvocataX model of policy system design, gain a broader donor base, and expand AdvocataX into a self-sustaining division of the organization capable of undertaking independent policy projects.
Tuzla, Bosnia and Herzegovina
Association Multi, an Atlas Network partner in Bosnia and Herzegovina, will present their “Digital Transformation of Bosnia and Herzegovina” initiative at the 2021 Smart Bets grant competition. This project will address the country’s lag behind the rest of Europe in moving public services and administration, public companies, and even private corporations to the internet. Because the internet still is not widely used for commerce and public services, economic growth and human prosperity has been seriously hindered in the country. They give the example that electronic signatures are not accepted on important documents, raising costs and increasing transaction time. This pain point became amplified during the COVID-19 pandemic and accompanying social distancing measures. “Digital Transformation” will use a comprehensive set of tools to change both policy and public opinion to modernize society and government in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Association Multi aims to change the law at all levels of government, encourage businesses to expand internet usage, and improve public perception and adoption of digital interactions. The organization would use a Smart Bets grant to increase the project’s marketing reach, start petitions, work with lawmakers, and collaborate with opinion leaders. In the first year, Association Multi will build the project’s foundation, training business leaders, publishing in the media, and producing the material they will use later to shape reform. The next step is to directly engage lawmakers to encourage the adoption of a law allowing the use of electronic signatures among other laws at multiple levels of government to facilitate a more digitalized society.
Association Multi hopes to increase well-being for all people in their country by bringing government, businesses, and society in Bosnia and Herzegovina into the 21st century vis-a-vis increased internet adoption.