Last fall, GiveDirectly and Canva, the visual communication platform, announced a partnership to give money directly to some of the world’s poorest people – a $10 million pilot that is sending a basic income through mobile money payments to people in extreme poverty in Khongoni, Malawi. The pilot, launched this March, will deliver ~$50 per month for 12 months to 12,800 adults, ensuring they’re above the extreme poverty line for a year. And they’re free to spend the money however they like – to decide for themselves how best to improve their own lives.

Direct transfers are a proven way to help people living in poverty

As of the start of this year, there were an estimated 711 million people who live in extreme poverty on less than $1.90 a day*, which means they have to make unfathomable decisions between basic human needs for themselves and their families.

Hundreds of studies have shown that an effective way of helping someone who has no money is to give them money. It enables families to buy what they need and have a consistent source of income, allowing them to invest in themselves and their children. 

It also recognizes that within a community, every person has different needs. Below are just a few stories from neighbors in the same village, each able to tackle their own challenges with the money from this pilot: 

Beyond the individual, this money boosts the larger community because it’s spent and re-invested locally. A recent study found that for every $1,000 distributed to a person living in poverty, the local  economy grew by $2,400 – a 2.4x bang for your buck.

Over 10,300 people are already getting transfers, and all 12,800 recipients will be enrolled and receiving payments by the end of the year.

We’re studying how to best deliver money to people in poverty

Our pilot in Khongoni is not just designed to distribute money, but also to answer an important question: what are the best methods for identifying people in poverty across wide and diverse regions? There is no working list of everyone living in extreme poverty, and identifying them is not a simple task. For this pilot, we’re testing three methods of targeting, or identifying who is eligible or not:

Each of these methods has strengths and weaknesses. We’ll be assessing how well they work by measuring the speed, cost-effectiveness, precision, and if the enrolled community perceives it as fair for each. The answers to this question will inform GiveDirectly’s cash transfer programs worldwide. 

By systematically identifying and taking steps towards widespread and large-scale cash programs, this partnership and our shared commitment to do the most good we can can meaningfully accelerate the end of extreme poverty. This is possible because of hard work from the entire Canva community in building one of the most valuable companies in the world but more importantly through its commitment to do the most good that it possibly can. We’re now passing along that wealth to people in poverty, giving them the funds to design their own destinies.

*$1.90/day is a purchasing power parity (PPP) value that allows comparison of the cost of meeting basic needs across countries.