We are the MM4A non-profit.
Inclusion, fairness, opportunity. Markets determine these issues. We are international specialists in modern market platforms that unlock each person's economic potential in uncertain times.
Ensuring people outside traditional employment have the best markets possible to sustainably develop their potential.
This is no longer a peripheral issue. Pre-Covid, 36% of Americans relied on gig work. That could be 50% in 2021. Diverse attempts to slow this trend have had little impact. The most marginalized suffer the worst.
Commercial labor platforms connecting these breadwinners to work are inadequate, often exploitative. Our platforms deliver protections, control, interventions, data, stability, skills, and progression for anyone currently earning flexibly.
“MM4A” stands for “Modern Markets for All”. Supportive, broad, deep, locally run, sustainable, platforms are vital for anyone earning outside the 40-hour week. We partner with government bodies who have leverage to launch and oversee our markets at the scale required in any area.
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 9-to-5 employment. It matters: job holders will enter the labor market every few years. Gig workers can be in and out daily in search of their next block of work. Supportive markets are vital.
For the less well-off, time is their 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 that empower the supply side can be a hard sell. Why should buyers of labor move away from more one-sided workforce systems that slash costs?
Public agencies have a crucial role in starting alternative markets. Our open sourced manual, based on years of implementation planning with British and US cities, explains.
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 supporting lower-income individuals along two spectrums:
Certainty of outcome
Many philanthropic and governmental interventions have been tested over years and should offer predictable 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.
Infrastructure initiatives are less predictable. But – if successful – can produce lasting impact for tens of millions of breadwinners at relatively low cost.
Vision for the future
Philanthropies typically look towards future jobs. They focus on trying to get people into traditional employment.
Some funders want to improve "gig work", now necessary for tens of millions.
A handful of philanthropists see employment as just one source of earnings that should be on hand.
Each person could also be renting out their possessions, providing community services, micro-lending, and generating income in ways that barely exist now. It all builds household resilience.
It's simplistic, but any Future of Work initiative can be located on the grid below. Bluer cells attract most philanthropic/government funding. Red cells indicate spending by companies shaping their vision for low-skill work.
Philanthropic and government funding remains overwhelmingly in the Jobs column. That leaves companies like Uber (who have dabbled 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 now deliver to companies undermines 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 will 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 offer him.
Getting him full-time employment is the focus of this traditional vision. If he’s already in a job, perhaps as a warehouse worker, the hope is to move him up to a more promising, higher-paying, skill in a growth sector. Perhaps IT support or medical coding.
This recognizes (a) his jobs may now be little more than on-demand work for one organization (b) he will have a range of abilities, skills and potential skills (c) ensuring he can build a portfolio of employment boosts employability and stability.
All economic activity
This assumes he should be enabled to easily unlock all his skills, plus his resources. (A bike to rent? Parking spot? His Xbox?). Then there’s local services he could provide, small sums he could lend and new interventions or investment to develop his 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” path for those outside the 9-to-5.
How can public employment agencies sustainably, extend support and skilling 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. Our platforms enable this at enormous scale.
What would follow if a first government decided their citizens were entitled to the best markets now possible for every kind of economic activity? Public policy changes could deliver this at no cost, while widening everyone’s choices. This radical option could be viable anywhere, including transition nations.
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 granular 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.