Business Press has been praising GiveDirectly, a direct cash transfer charity. The business press has been reporting very positively on a charity that transfers cash directly to Kenya’s poorest residents. In Kenya, cellphones work like debit cards and it is easy to infer who is poor and who is not by their address or other data. GiveDirectly uses that data and simply sends money to poor people in two low-income districts. Those without a phone can pick up cards and use them in other ways.
Google Giving has donated two and a half million dollars to this charity. They cite the efficiency of it. There may be a few people who aren’t as needy as one would prefer and the phone companies do take some of the transfer but even then, it is more efficient than paying someone to assess every recipient. Also, cash aid creates market demand for food and other needs that could be met by entrepreneurs. Some recipients will use the money to start small businesses or pay school fees.
Intriguingly, the rationale for GiveDirectly that Facebook and Google figures have adopted, mirrors the rationale for a basic income and for projects like ReCivitas’ BIG QUATINGA VELHO and BIG Otjivero. ReCivitas has even less administrative costs than those faced by GiveDirectly. We have also discussed on this page BIG experiments in India. This could beat back the weird perception that a BIG is “impossible”.
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Matthew Yglesias’ article in Slate (see separate BI News report) gives a detailed account of GiveDirectly and its reception.