how it works

GiveDirectly provides a wealth transfer service to the extreme poor in Kenya. We operate an end-to-end model and do not outsource or subcontract work to other organizations.

Your donation moves through a payment-processing service or by check to our bank account.

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We identify poor households in Kenya and Uganda.

We do this using modern technologies including electronic data capture, digital mapping, and remote sensing. To date this process has located exceptionally poor households: our average recipient lives on $0.65 per day and only 15% of households report having enough food in the house for tomorrow.

More about our enrollment process

  1. We select regions with high poverty rates using government data.
  2. We select the poorest villages in these regions using data collected locally and satellite imagery.
  3. We identify the poorest households in each village using simple, transparent criteria: those living in homes made of mud and grass.
  4. We record each household's phone number or, where needed, provide a SIM card and mobile phone.
  5. We use a rigorous process of audits to prevent mistakes or fraud. Field staff independently audit 100% of recipients, and senior staff conduct additional audits.
  6. Once enrollment is complete, we hold a village meeting with the entire community to explain how the program works.
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We transfer your donation directly and electronically to recipients.

We move money from our US bank to our account with an electronic payments provider via a foreign exchange broker. We then transfer money directly to the recipient's account.

More about our transfer process in Kenya

Our transfer process in Kenya:
  1. In Kenya, we use Safaricom's M-Pesa mobile payment system. We transfer money from our M-Pesa account to the recipient's M-Pesa account. We only transfer funds if the name in our records matches the name on the national ID document he or she used to register for M-Pesa.
  2. The recipient gets an SMS message notifying him or her of the transfer.
  3. The recipient collects the transfer from a local M-Pesa agent, who is typically a shopkeeper in the village or the nearest town. The recipient transfers his or her electronic M-Pesa balance to the agent using his or her mobile phone in return for cash.

More about our transfer process in Uganda

Our transfer process in Uganda:
  1. In Uganda, we use MTN's Mobile Money system and EzeeMoney. We transfer money from our MTN or EzeeMoney account directly to the recipient's account. We only transfer funds if the name in our records matches the name on the national ID document he or she used to register for the account.
  2. The recipient gets an SMS message notifying him or her of the transfer.
  3. With MTN, the recipient collects the transfer from a local MTN agent. After entering a secret PIN, the recipient transfers his or her electronic MTN balance to the agent using his or her mobile phone in return for cash. With EzeeMoney, the recipient presents his or her EzeeMoney card to a local Ezee agent, provides a secret PIN, and indicates how much cash he or she wants to withdraw.
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Recipients use the transfer to pursue their own goals

Recipients use transfers for whatever is most important to them; we never tell them what to do. An independent evaluation of our work in Kenya by Innovations for Poverty Action found that recipients use transfers for a wide variety of purposes that on average generate large income gains. Common uses range from buying food to investing in tangible assets such as housing and livestock to investing in children's education.

More on impact in Kenya

Impact in Kenya:
  • The most frequent self-reported use of funds is purchasing a metal roof. We estimate the annual rate of return on metal as opposed to thatch roofing to be 15–20%, suggesting this is an attractive investment.
  • 1% of recipients report regrets about the way they used their transfer. For example, one woman chose not to pursue a business opportunity but later wished that she had.
  • 1% of recipients report having had some of their transfer stolen.
  • On net, 100% report being better-off as a result of the transfer.