Why do you only give to women?+
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 targetted.
Why 100 weeks, and not 80?+
Less than 100 weeks is not long enough. Living in poverty makes you vulnerable. Basic needs like food, clothing and shelter need to be met first. Only then can you start developing a steady source of income, like a small business. You might not succeed on your first try though. In practice, 100 weeks has proven to be an ideal timeframe for most people. A longer program might reduce the incentive for entrepreneurship.
If I commit to a one-off donation of 25 euros, how is that money spent?+
A new group of 20 women kicks off as soon as we have collected enough money to support them for the full run of the program (20,000 euros). A donation of 25 euros would just be added to this grand total. 80% of this money is donated directly, 10% pays for financial training, transfer costs and our local organisation, and the remaining 10% pays for all costs incurred in the Netherlands.
Does the money I donate benefit a specific group of women?+
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 programma, the next group to start becomes the sole beneficiary of your donations. This process continues until your donations stop.
Occasionally your donations might be allocated to a new group before the one you are currently supporting finishes the program, meaning you will receive updates for two groups simultaneously. Usually this situation will not last longer than two months.
How much do you pay for overhead?+
Of every donation, 10% goes to the cost of our organization in the Netherlands. One of the things this pays for is office space. Founders Jeroen and Gitte have worked pro bono in the first few years after 100WEEKS was founded in 2015.
Does this work? How are you so sure?+
The past decade has seen large-scale scientific study 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.
Do they have to pay the money back?+
No, the money is a gift, not a loan. We want people to be able to continue their lives independently, free from worry and debt. 100WEEKS alumni do tend to give back to their communities on their own accord though.
How do you know what they spend it on?+
We call the women every three months and ask them what they are spending their money on and what impact it is having.
How do you determine who gets to participate?+
By cooperating with local organizations. They know their own communities best. They look for women that are living in extreme poverty but are still economically active. 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, given by a local partner organization.
If only selected women receive money, doesn’t this lead to tension their community?+
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.
How do you define poverty?+
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 were we launched our program initially. Here, all citizens are divided between four income categories. We target women in the lowest income category. They live below the poverty threshold.
Don't people grow dependent on easy money?+
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. Recipients know the money is temporary from the start, which is crucial. This prevents them from becoming dependent on the transfers.
Is access to mobile phones common in Africa?+
Africa has 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 also have access to cheap and simple mobile phones. The most popular mobile phone amongst the Rwandan poor is a Nokia sold for $7.
How can I be sure my donation ends up in the women's pockets?+
Your contribution goes directly to those who need it the most: the women selected to participate in the 100WEEKS program. The money is wired directly to their phones. There is no middleman.