We are the MM4A non-profit.
Economic recovery, skilling, inclusion, racial and gender equity. At the root of all these issues are markets. We are international specialists in modernized markets that work for people at the bottom of the economy.
Ensuring the least well-off have the best markets possible in which to develop their potential.
That sounds dry. But it would be a huge change.
To understand how new marketplace technologies currently destabilize people at the bottom of the economy, look at this comparison with new markets for those at the top. Or, explore business models of today’s for-profit labor platforms.
“MM4A” stands for “Modern Markets for All”. Fair markets, harnessing new technologies at scale, are overdue. Government bodies have the leverage and relationships to launch them at little or no cost.
See initial video of one of our markets, launched by public agencies in Los Angeles County here.
What we do
We develop infrastructure for economic activity outside of traditional, employment. Our markets are built around fairness, stability, pathways, alignment, and supply-side quality. They are under local control. We have three core competencies:
For the less well-off, time is the key economic asset. It’s what employers pay for. Time-based markets have to be extraordinarily complex under-the-hood if they are to provide true protections, control, stability, and progression.
In consultation with multiple stakeholders we design, build, and test new market technologies.
Launching markets built around empowering the supply side can be a hard sell. Why should buyers of labor move away from more one-sided systems for procuring workers for example?
Public agencies have a crucial role. Our open sourced manual, based on years of implementation planning with British and US cities, explains.
Markets are powerful. They are being changed by new technologies. Fairer markets could tackle fundamental problems at source.
Launching them can be easier than confrontational and costly initiatives aimed at protecting workers.
We spread that message.
Where do we fit with other social initiatives?
We have 25 years of expertise in a specific corner of the Future of Work field. To position us, it’s useful to categorize any initiative aiming to progress lower-income people along two spectrums:
Vision for the low-skill future
Philanthropies typically look towards Future Jobs. They focus on traditional employment.
Some funders want to engage with "gig work", now a norm for tens of millions.
A handful of philanthropists see employment becoming just one source of earnings. Each person could also be renting out their possessions, providing community services, micro-lending, and generating income in ways that barely exist now.
Certainty of outcome sought
Many philanthropic and governmental interventions have been tested over years and offer concrete social returns.
Invest $1m in apprenticeships, for example, and you can be reasonably sure of creating perhaps 50 jobs at the end. That’s really helped the apprentices. But it's done little to reshape the economy.
System change initiatives are less predictable. But – if successful – can produce lasting impact for tens of millions of breadwinners at relatively low cost.
It's simplistic, but any Future of Work initiative can be located on the grid below. Blue cells typically attract philanthopic/government funding. Red cells indicate investment by companies shaping their own vision for low-skill work.
Philanthropic and government funding remains overwhelmingly in the Jobs column. That leaves companies like Uber (dabbling with expansion beyond ride-hailing to the general labor market) free to create the infrastructure that shapes life for workers in non-standard employment. The commoditized, cheapened, labor they deliver to companies can undermine a business case for having employees.
Post pandemic, with economies sputtering, the top right cells above are becoming pivotal. Jobs will take time, incremental staffing could become even more of a norm.
How do we impact people?
Take a father, aged 25. This is what each of the three visions above aim to do for him.
Getting him full-time employment is the focus. If he’s already in a job, perhaps as a warehouse worker, the hope is to move him up to a more stable, higher-paying, skill in a growth sector. IT support maybe.
This recognizes (a) his “job” may now be nothing more than on-demand work at the behest of one organization (b) he will have a range of abilities, skills and potential skills (c) ensuring he can build a portfolio of employment boosts resilience and opportunity.
All types of economic activity
This assumes he should be able to easily unlock all his skills, plus his resources. (A bike to rent when not needed? Parking spot? His Xbox?). Then there’s local services he could provide, small sums he could lend and new models of interventions or investment to develop potential.
See one of our markets in action here.
Our two strands
Our work is explained in two sites; the first for a “multi-source employment” vision, the second offering a wider “all types of economic activity” possibility for those without jobs.
How can public employment agencies extend their services to citizens in non-standard employment? It starts with much better markets for hourly labor. Then all sorts of data collection, interventions, and new support models become viable.
What would follow if a first government decided their electorate were entitled to the best markets now possible for every kind of economic activity? It could be done at no cost, while widening everyone’s choices. This could be viable in any country, including the developing world.
The same themes run through both strands; ensuring fairness in a fast-changing economy, initiating new services at scale, maximizing inclusion, a new era of economic interventions, accountability and transparency in economic platforms, and how to harness the data.
Our work is rooted in books written in the 1990’s by our founder. Our non-profit emerged from pioneering programs funded by British government agencies to create better markets for “gig workers’. Funded by national and state philanthropies we have also worked with public agencies around the US.
The first American launch of our markets, in Los Angeles County, is focusing on childcare during the pandemic. Our launch project for the L.A. area won US Conference of Mayors’ prize for best economic or job development initiative in America. We publish our learning with multiple partners.
We are a team of technologists, project managers and change experts based in London (UK) and the North of England, but with an international focus. Our organization, MM4A Non-Profit Ltd. (UK registration number: 08636992) is a company locked to non-profit status by Golden Shares held by funders and founder. Everything we produce gets open sourced.