Strings-free cash for the poor?

Strings-free cash for the poor?

A charity handing out money to the poor, no strings attached? The idea sounds ridiculous. But that is exactly what ‘Give Directly’ is doing in Africa with some surprising results:

‘The 25-year-old carpenter knew nothing of this until he came home one day to find that strangers had given his wife a mobile phone linked to a bank account. Next came a $1,000 windfall, which they were free to spend on whatever they liked.

The idea sounds as extraordinary as throwing money out of helicopters. But this programme, and others like it, are part of a shift in thinking about how best to use aid to help the poorest. For decades, it was thought that the poor needed almost everything done for them and that experts knew best what this was.’

But then, from around 2000, a different idea started to emerge and take shape as governments started handing out small stipends to families to spend in whichever way they chose…

This article titled, Pennies from Heaven, found in the Economist, details the rest of this journey as well as looking at some of the differences in result between money given with strings attached and that without.

What do you think? Is it possible that in our desire to help the poor we have decided that we need to do all the thinking for them [as those who ‘obviously know best’] or is it possible that it is a ‘both…and’ approach in terms of creating some level of responsibility while also giving them freedom to spend how they will?


Brett Anderson

Brett "Fish" Anderson from South Africa (the country) is passionate about seeing the church live out what it says it believe in all areas of life. He is married to the beautiful Val (tbV) and hates raiSINs with a different kind of passion.