Bolstering Property Rights

  • Overseas
  • 2007

The Omidyar Network, the philanthropy created by eBay founder Pierre Omidyar and his wife, Pam, is organized around five major initiatives. One is property rights. This dates back to 2007, when the Omidyars read Hernando de Soto’s book The Mystery of Capital. That seminal book explains both why insecure property rights are such a serious problem in the developing world, and how establishing private ownership can be a giant boon to economic growth and prosperity. (See 1989 entry.)

The Omidyars have taken this insight to heart. “A significant proportion of the world’s population,” their foundation notes, “has weak or nonexistent protections for their property and resources. This leaves people vulnerable to wrongful eviction and forced displacement—and it disempowers them and prevents them from engaging in the formal economy. Without formal recognition and protection of their property, people are unable to have ownership of goods, start and run a business, or be protected when buying, selling, and trading.” Extensive multiyear grantmaking by the Omidyar Network now helps poor residents of developing countries establish ownership of land and businesses, as the essential foundation for future prosperity.