Meet the SBE alumnus on a mission to eliminate extreme poverty

Inspired by his own life and education, SBE alumnus Thanh Binh Tran created Moonshot Mission, a digital platform with the aim of eliminating extreme poverty by connecting donors with NGOs that utilise proven scientific methods to have the greatest possible impact per Euro invested.

In this blog post, Thanh writes about the project and how his experiences at SBE have been influential in his career.

What is Moonshot Mission all about?

We started Moonshot Mission because we believe that everyone deserves a life full of opportunities—regardless of nationality, gender, sexual identity, skin colour, or anything else. But today more than 600 million people live in extreme poverty (less than 1.62€ per day)—more than the 450 million inhabitants of the entire EU. We refuse to accept that.

In order to change this situation, we support NGOs that—based on science and evidence—can save and protect the most lives per Euro invested. These are NGOs that have scientifically proven impact at the core of their work. Therefore, we can recommend to our donors projects wherein nobel-prize winning scientific methods have been proven to have a large impact.

Moonshot Mission is a digital donation platform that connects donors to the best projects in the world to donate to. NGOs are curated with the help of rigorous impact evaluations, an experimental approach to alleviating global poverty which was awarded the nobel prize for economics in 2019, and backed by research from Harvard University, MIT, or the United Nations. Just like on booking.com or airbnb, donors can look for the cause they wish to support and donate through us. We then forward the entire sum to the NGOs (we do not take a commission), while donors’ personal data stays only with us. Moreover, if an NGO no longer meets our quality standards, we will then notify donors; thus, we protect donors’ privacy by limiting NGOs’ direct contact with them. 

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Thanh Binh Tran

For me, donating is not a question of whether I have excess money which I can donate, but a sign of gratitude for what I have. I was born in Germany, as the son of Vietnamese refugees, and I was raised in a parish house (pastor’s house) for the first 10 years of my life. When I was 27, I was already in the management of a Berliner start-up, which had investors such as BMW and Nokia, as well as more than 100 employees.  But I always wonder: without the privilege of being born in Europe, without access to quality education and health care - who would I have become?

How has your experience at SBE impacted your career?

At Moonshot Mission, we question the status quo in every single way. With my team, we have sent handwritten letters to people whose Linkedin inboxes are overflowing with messages, contacted instagram influencers via Linkedin, and tried all kinds of unconventional ways to gain traction. When we face a challenge as a team, we really dig into the problem, try to understand the dynamics of the market, and take the perspective of whom we want to address before working on a solution. The PBL experience had a huge impact on my approach to deal with challenges.

In addition, our team has a big network of people supporting us, many of whom I met in Maastricht: in lectures, bars, house parties or within student associations. For instance, I am in regular contact with SBE professor Paul Smeets who has continued to provide me with his expert knowledge and advice in the field of philanthropy. My fellow alumnus Benedikt Hatzfeld (founder of the recruitment platform 'Build my career') supports us with his network of companies to find B2B partners. And finally, SBE alumnus Timo Kretschmer (an Evaluator at the German Institute for Development Evaluation) helps us on a voluntary basis to find NGOs for our network.

My education at SBE gave me the confidence to start this venture, the network boosts us forward—toward a life full of opportunities for all.

Thanh Binh Tran; photography: Frederike van der Straeten

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