In the past decade, many large-scale scientific studies have been done on the effects of unconditional cash transfers. It really works! You can read specific studies and background articles here. On a side note: research shows that people do not spend more on tobacco or alcohol after receiving cash transfers.
Women who take out microcredits tend to have a lower default rate than men. This implies a more responsible spending pattern, which means cash transfers are likely to be more beneficial for women. Research also shows that family members tend to benefit more from cash transfers when women in the household are targeted. On top of that, as women and girls on average earn less and save less, living close to poverty more often than men, we consider a special focus on women justified.
We choose to provide unconditional cash transfers (UCTs) for a couple of reasons. The first reason is related to our genuine belief that people in poverty themselves know best what they need. Our data shows that this is different for each individual, based on their skills and the context they live in. We are therefore not in the position to come up with a one-size-fits-all solution.
Secondly, we believe the combination of training and coaching with unconditional cash leads to increased agency and therefore to the empowerment of the participants. This is crucial to make the program sustainable and to make sure the women are financially independent when the program ends.
Lastly, conditioning cash transfers also means monitoring and enforcing these conditions, which in turn leads to higher overhead costs. Even though the scientific debate on the effectiveness of UCTs and CCTs is still ongoing, so far there is little evidence that proves these costly conditions lead to better results.
The 100WEEKS model draws on the Graduation Approach as pioneered by BRAC and further developed by CGAP. We provide cash and training over a longer period of time to address the multiple challenges of poverty simultaneously.
Through trial and error, we found that 100 weeks is the ideal timeframe for most people to establish sustainable livelihoods on their own terms. This process takes time. Only after having overcome scarcity do recipients start investing productively and accumulating capital. They increase their human and social capital through the coaching and training program and eventually develop sustainable livelihoods. A longer program might reduce the incentive for entrepreneurship while a shorter program leaves no room for error and learning.
Yes. 100WEEKS provides a platform that connects donors directly with people living in extreme poverty. The model of a "platform" makes our approach easily scalable and extremely flexible. All standardized processes are automated, using an IT platform, web-based crowdfunding, mobile money, and mobile surveys. While 100WEEKS secures the cash transfers and collects the data, local implementing partners with experience and knowledge about the local context implement the program. We leverage the capabilities of these local partners to keep costs low and scale exponentially. Even local partners with weak organizational capabilities can work on our cloud-based platform.
100WEEKS is evidence-based. We continuously monitor the effectiveness of our program and this data is easily accessible for foundations, companies, and individual donors.
Our data collection starts with a face-to-face baseline interview with all new participants. After that, we conduct five Computer-Assisted Telephone Interviews (CATI) carried out by local ‘pop-up’ call centers. The program ends with an endline survey followed by a post-program survey six months and a year after the course of the program to measure the longer-term sustainability. All our surveys are based on World Bank questionnaires and we use the Global Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) to measure impact and progress.
Using state-of-the-art software provided by Nebu, our operators are able to feed responses directly into a central repository which is linked to our real-time 100WEEKS dashboard. This dashboard is accessible for foundations and companies, showing the live developments of all groups in and out of the program. Through this dashboard, our donors have unparalleled insight into the impact of their grant. Because of the regular measurements, there is a possibility to add new questions if we or our donors request specific data. Interested in how this works? Get in touch to receive a link for access to the dashboard and see for yourself!
We use 90% of every individual donation directly on program costs: 80% for the cash transfers and 10% is used for the financial training and the organizational costs in the target countries. The remaining 10% is used for all our organizational costs in the Netherlands. We are working towards reaching this same distribution for donations from foundations and companies.
Apart from the direct cash support, the 100WEEKS program includes both a coaching and a training element. The curriculum of 100WEEKS consists of separate modules: personal leadership, incubation of livelihoods projects or micro-businesses, entrepreneurial skills, financial literacy, and life skills. By coming together in small groups, the women also help each other, leading to an increase in social capital, confidence, and a sense of community.
For individual donations it does. One-off donations are allocated to the next group that enters the program. If you donate on a regular basis, say monthly, all your donations are allocated to a single group of women. Once that group leaves the program, the next group to start becomes the sole beneficiary of your donations. This process continues until your donations stop.
For foundations and companies, the donation often benefits multiple groups simultaneously. They get access to the real-time 100WEEKS dashboard allowing them to follow the live impact of their donation.
The preselection of women is done by our local implementing partners. 100WEEKS always works with local partners that are well embedded in the communities where our participants live. They preselect women that live in extreme poverty but that are still economically active. After preselection, women are officially onboarded after an extensive baseline interview with one of the local 100WEEKS employees. Selected women are joined in groups of 20 that live close together. This makes it easier for them to meet for weekly financial training sessions.
To prevent tensions it is essential that the local community agrees with the selection of participants. Working with a partner considered a legitimate authority locally is crucial in this respect. We always try to involve local government and leadership in the selection. Their backing is required to achieve local support.
We draw on World Bank and United Nations statistics to determine the national definition of poverty in specific countries. We also take national measures and data into account. Rwanda is the country where we launched our program initially. Here, all citizens are divided into four income categories. We target women in the lowest income category. They live below the poverty threshold.
In our surveys to measure the impact of our intervention, we use the Global Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI).
The amount 100WEEKS gives is not sufficient to live off, but it does give people living in extreme poverty an opportunity to escape it through saving and investing. Research shows that most recipients don’t spend their money on consumer goods exclusively, but also invest it in land, goats, chickens or commercial activity. This leads to a rise in disposable income. Crucially, recipients know the money is temporary from the start. This prevents them from becoming dependent on the transfers.
Many African countries have made a great leap when it comes to mobile communication, skipping landlines altogether and building a mobile infrastructure from scratch. The large-scale adoption of mobile phones is one of the most revolutionary developments to hit the continent in the last 20 years. The majority of people living in poverty generally have access to cheap and simple mobile phones. The most popular mobile phone amongst the Rwandan poor is a Nokia sold for $7.
1OOWEEKS uses existing mobile money platforms to transfer each week individually targeted micropayments at a large scale and create an audit trail. PWC has designed the administrative organization and internal controls to make sure the right people receive the cash transfers.