Omidyar Network Awards $5 million to Catalyze Social Impact through Property Rights

February 15, 2011, REDWOOD CITY, Calif. — Omidyar Network today announced it has provided $4.96 million to the Institute for Liberty & Democracy (ILD) and awarded $150K in prize money to three winners of the Ashoka’s Changemakers competition for property rights. With this funding, Omidyar Network has committed more than $23 million globally to enable people to improve their lives through property rights. By increasing access to secure rights to land and business assets, individuals are able to realize life-altering benefits: long-term security, enhanced identity and personal dignity, and a greater stake in the future.

ILD, founded in 1981 by renowned economist Hernando de Soto, works with governments to implement business and property rights reforms to allow all citizens to participate in the market economy. ILD will use the funding to expand its work to new countries, promote the formalization of property rights worldwide, and increase global awareness of the vital role of property rights in poverty alleviation and economic growth.

“Omidyar Network is a likeminded partner; they recognize how important it is to bring people into the formal economy by giving them the legal tools to prosper,” said de Soto, President of the ILD. “Omidyar Network’s support is crucial to the ILD’s continuing effort to encourage the development community to take on the challenge of legally empowering the poor.”

De Soto was among the distinguished panel of judges who determined the winners of the global competition Property Rights: Identity, Dignity & Opportunity for All. Led by Omidyar Network and Ashoka’s Changemakers, the challenge recognized three winners for their work in enhancing access to land rights for poor and marginalized populations:

  • Terra Nova, Brazil: a for-profit company that improves the lives of families living in urban slums by peacefully managing the land regularization process, resolving land disputes, and enabling residents to purchase title to the land they occupy.
  • Red Tierras, Colombia: An interactive network that uses technology to connect land rights practitioners from marginalized communities, citizen sector organizations, and government agencies across Latin America to share best practices in land conflict resolution, agrarian reform, and sustainable natural resource management.
  • ENSS/SUTRA (A Family of One’s Own), India: A social movement led by women that advocates for long-term lease rights from the government to promote an alternative, women-centered household structure.

The winners, each of whom will receive a prize of $50K, were selected from 211 entries representing 48 countries. In the final round, the judges evaluated 11 finalists on their demonstration of innovation, social impact, and sustainability.

“Omidyar Network believes that property rights are fundamental to creating opportunity for people to improve their lives,” said Matt Bannick, Managing Partner of Omidyar Network. “Through our support of ILD—an established, global leader in property rights—and the Changemakers competition, we aim to connect proven leaders to new innovators and foster a movement to unleash global social impact through property rights.”

The judging panel included Bannick, who served as presiding judge; de Soto, President of the ILD; Elinor Ostrom, the first female Laureate of the Nobel Prize in Economics for her work on economic governance; Matthew Bishop, US Business Editor for The Economist; Dr. Amrita Patel, the founder and chair of Foundation for Ecological Security; and Tim Hanstad, renowned land policy expert and CEO of Landesa.

“This competition brings to light many of these very innovative leaders who have been working with their heads down for years, if not decades, and allow us all to learn from them,” added Hanstad. “This competition enables their work to be more visible to policy makers and other larger actors that can partner with them and help them scale.”

About Omidyar Network
Omidyar Network is a philanthropic investment firm dedicated to harnessing the power of markets to create opportunity for people to improve their lives. Established in 2004 by eBay founder Pierre Omidyar and his wife Pam, the organization invests in and helps scale innovative organizations to catalyze economic and social change. To date, Omidyar Network has committed more than $371 million to for-profit companies and nonprofit organizations that foster economic advancement and encourage individual participation across multiple investment areas, including microfinance, entrepreneurship, property rights, consumer Internet, mobile technology and government transparency. To learn more about Omidyar Network, please visit

About Ashoka’s Changemakers
Ashoka’s Changemakers is a community of action that connects social entrepreneurs around the globe to share ideas, inspire, and mentor each other. Through its online collaborative competitions and open-source process, is one of the world’s most robust spaces for launching, discussing, and funding ideas to solve the world’s most pressing social problems. Changemakers builds on Ashoka’s three decade history and belief that we all have the ability to be a Changemaker.

About the Institute for Liberty & Democracy (ILD)
ILD identifies the legal obstacles that force people to operate outside the law, along with the practices and norms they create to make transactions and protect their assets, and then measures the economic potential of those assets languishing in that extralegal economy. Those findings become the building blocks of legal reform. De Soto, founder and President of the ILD, is the author of the two groundbreaking books The Other Path and The Mystery of Capital, Why Capitalism Triumphs in the West and fails Everywhere Else. He recently co-chaired the Commission on Legal Empowerment of the Poor with former US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. De Soto is the recipient of several major international awards. For more information, go to