Andrew Clarke, Luminate's Interim Director, Financial Transparency , talked with OpenCorporates about our recent support of their work. This Q&A originally appeared on the OpenCorporates' blog.
At OpenCorporates, our mission is to make global corporate transparency mainstream by opening up public company information.
So we are delighted to announce that OpenCorporates has received a grant from the philanthropic organisation Luminate, allowing us to accelerate our progress towards these goals by unlocking the utility and impact of our data. To do this, over the next year we will put end users at the heart of our work by investing in different areas from user experience to user success.
In this blog we set out the impact we will make with the grant for our users. We also speak to Andrew Clarke, Interim Director for Financial Transparency at Luminate about why they chose to support OpenCorporates, and why he feels OpenCorporates is: “helping to push back against major corruption, levelling the playing field, and providing more confidence in our economic and financial systems”.
Scaling up our impact
The fact that OpenCorporates has made such an impact to date is testament to the importance of its data and mission – and the hard work of the excellent team working for it. This impact includes:
- Millions of users visiting our website every month
- Powering important journalistic and civil society investigations
- Building a successful public-benefit business model where revenue is reinvested, forming a virtuous circle
- Advocating for open company data, for example on the EU’s PSI directive
The new grant will allow us to scale up our impact by focusing on 3 key areas – which are already in progress.
1) User experience: helping you find the information you need quicker
We have kicked off a user experience (UX) programme to help you find the company information you need quicker by significantly improving the look, feel and functionality of our website and API. A key part of the process was to consult with our users, including those investigating corruption and financial crime from across the private and third sectors. Thank you to all those who participated in the research to inform this.
2) Data onboarding: ensuring you can leverage our data better at scale
We will improve our data products to allow clients to quickly ingest and use data at scale. We will also develop and launch new products aligned to our users’ needs.
3) Improved support: to champion our users’ needs
We have recruited Andy Smith, our new Head of Customer Success, to champion the needs of our users. He will work with users to unblock their data ingestion challenges and drive product innovations that help them more effectively use the data for public good.
Watch this space, as we’ll provide updates on how these projects are progressing.
Q&A: Why Luminate chose to support OpenCorporates
To help you understand more about who Luminate are and why they chose to support OpenCorporates, we spoke to Andrew Clarke, Interim Director for Financial Transparency at Luminate.
Andrew answers our questions below:
Who are Luminate?
“We are a philanthropic organisation which works globally to fund and invest in organisations that are making an impact in four main areas:
- Financial transparency
- Independent media
- Civic empowerment
- Data and digital rights
I manage our global portfolio for financial transparency, which covers public procurement, open contracting, anti-corruption and budget transparency. We also look at issues like beneficial ownership and corporate transparency. Broadly speaking, we are trying to support accountability and integrity of public finances.
What is your mission?
Our overarching mission is to empower people and give them the opportunity to influence issues affecting them and their societies. A lot of our work is about making sure powerful actors, like governments, corporations and the media, are responsive and held to account.
Why did you invest in OpenCorporates?
For lots of reasons!
It is not often we see opportunities like this that make good commercial sense and also have potential for vast social impact.
- A mission-driven model with the potential for scale
- A viable product that has already been built with a very clear view to social impact and social good
- A successful and innovative open data business model
- A track record of users and good projections for growth
- Great leadership and a good team
How does OpenCorporates’ mission align with yours?
OpenCorporates’ work is foundational to our financial transparency strategy, but it clearly brings benefits to the other three main areas of our work. It provides data on corporate activities, tracks and holds them to account, and supports the work of non-state and state actors in pursuing formal and informal investigations.
Like us, OpenCorporates is very attuned to the need for policy reform and has engaged around corporate beneficial ownership transparency and the creation of global standards, such as legal entity identifiers.
How does this grant fit into your wider portfolio?
It’s a slam dunk for us.
Many of the entities in our existing financial transparency portfolio on open contracting, budget transparency and beneficial ownership use OpenCorporates’ services and data. A lot of journalists we work with use OpenCorporates’ data and speak of the value of having access to that kind of data. On the policy side, OpenCorporates has worked closely with a lot of the key players who are seeking greater corporate transparency laws.
What does a world without OpenCorporates look like?
I think it becomes a bit of a black box. OpenCorporates’ work to open up data and make it more accessible and more easily consumable is helping to push back against major corruption, level the playing field, and provide more confidence in our economic and financial systems.
We believe that by providing comprehensive, structured and open data on companies around the world, OpenCorporates contributes to increased trust and responsibility in the corporate world, and enables its users to better understand business risks and support successful anti-corruption work.
How will your grant help OpenCorporates?
What OpenCorporates has achieved to date is remarkable but they need to get to the next level. Investing in their technology and user experience will help them to beat their competitors who are closed shop providers of data.
We are providing unrestricted funds to invest in that sort of really positive disruption of a market in which closed and often unreliable corporate data is common. Our investment in OpenCorporates will contribute to their aim of disrupting the market and promoting a model of ‘many eyes’, and more opportunity for scrutiny.
How can organisations like OpenCorporates contribute in the current crisis caused by Covid-19?
I have been really struck by the crisis in public procurement during the pandemic. It has become public knowledge how challenging it is to procure personal protective and health equipment in so many countries. The kind of data OpenCorporates provides is a key piece of that puzzle in terms of helping procurement officers to move swiftly in conducting due diligence on new supply chains and markets”.