29.07.2015 – When you invest in a woman, you invest in her entire community. The Chicago-based social startup SHIFT trusts impoverished women around the globe to distribute resources effectively. Established in 2014, the business helps women through direct cash payments. The contributions cause the she effect: improvements in health and education, reduction in crime, and ultimately poverty alleviation.
To cause lasting improvements, SHIFT relies on nongovernmental field partners. The local organizations select groups of women and welcome them to SHIFT. Then, individuals around the globe send money directly to SHIFT women via the startup’s website. Contributors can donate as much as they want to but no less than $20.
Once the amount comes through the system, the startup sends 80% to women and uses the remaining 20% to develop. Each SHIFT woman receives one-time $200 cash transfer to personal savings account.
Why $200? Studies show that successful cash-transfer programs increase a person’s yearly income by 20%. When piloting in Uganda, SHIFT uses the World Bank criterion for extreme poverty as living on $1.25 a day or less and decides on sending $100 transfers. The business receives overwhelming responses that the money is helpful but not sufficient to provide items like fertilizer and tools for farming. As a results, SHIFT decides to increase the transfer to $200. The proactive founder Tricia Martinez states, “We’re trying to figure out what makes the most sense to help the most.”
With the current $200 transfers, each woman decides to use the money or share it with the group and invest in larger assets. Each SHIFT community establishes its own regulations on money distribution.
Tracking and Sharing Results
Following the cash transfers, SHIFT tracks women’s spending and saving habits and shares the results online. The peer-to-peer empowerment platform relies on transparency to attract contributors and thus maximize the she effect. Small scale donations to resourceful women in need lead to lasting impacts.
About the author
Radostina Ivanova is a passionate human rights advocate who just moved to Berlin to gain practical experience while applying to master’s degree programs in international public policy. In 2014, Radostina graduated from Trinity University in Texas, USA with International Relations and Communication. She spent the past year working as an Executive Assistant to former US Ambassador to the United Nations Sichan Siv. Radostina also has extensive experience volunteering and interning with nonprofits. She is eager to learn about business tools for accomplishing social improvements.