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Are Mobile Money Cash Grants
the Future of Development?


November 21st NYC Salon - RSVP Now

GiveDirectlySponsorship organizations used to give direct cash handouts to poor families, yet in the 1980s most moved towards community development programming. Giving out cash to individuals did not seem to be sustainable and it was seen as disempowering.

Organizations focused on supporting infrastructure, capacity building and better governance with the aim of changing systems, frameworks and cultures over the long-term.

Cash transfers have returned recently, under the banner of empowerment. Chris Blattman of Columbia University caused a stir when he released a study that showed that unconditional direct cash grants to poor Ugandans increased their employment hours by 17% and their earnings by nearly 50%, especially women.

Rather than "wasting" the grants on consumption items, Ugandans invested in new skilled trades like metalworking or tailoring. Other studies show that existing farmers or businesspeople have seen returns of 40 to 80% a year on cash grants.

With studies like this as a basis, Paul Niehaus of UC San Diego co-founded GiveDirectly to collect donations in the USA and give out $1,000 unconditional cash grants to Kenyans living in homes made out of mud, wood, and grass. His innovation: using mPesa mobile money to reach poor households, reducing transaction costs to just 8%.
  • Does Blattman's study and Niehaus' innovation point to a new paradigm in development?
  • Should we abandon the high overhead and huge expense required for capacity building or even conditional cash transfers?
  • And should we move from a high-touch, human-driven process to simply sending mobile money?
Please RSVP now to join Tessie San Martin, CEO, Plan International USA; Chris Blattman, Columbia University; Paul Niehaus, GiveDirectly; and your peers in technology and development for the next Technology Salon on cash transfer efficacy, how technology can facilitate them, and if both are the future of development.

  Mobile Money Cash Transfers
  November 21 Technology Salon NYC
  Thursday, November 21st
  8:30 - 10:30 a.m.
  99 Madison Ave
  New York, NY 10030 (map)

We’ll have hot coffee and catered breakfast for a morning rush, but seating is limited. So please RSVP now to be confirmed for attendance: once we reach our 30-person capacity there will be a waiting list.

About the Technology Salon

subscribeThe Technology Salonâ„¢ is an intimate, informal, and in person, discussion between information and communication technology experts and international development professionals, with a focus on both:
  • technology's impact on donor-sponsored technical assistance delivery, and
  • private enterprise driven economic development, facilitated by technology.
Our meetings are lively conversations, not boring presentations. Attendance is capped at 30 people - and frank participation with ideas, opinions, and predictions is actively encouraged. 

It's also a great opportunity to meet others motivated to employ technology to solve vexing development problems. Join us today!

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