Last year while working as the UK lead for Oliver Wyman for Society’s Social Impact program, I helped to develop a pipeline of pro-bono consulting work to support nonprofits and managed a Social Impact project for an impact investor. This gave me exposure to the incredible work within the nonprofit sector and led me to appreciate the value that a consulting-backed, problem-solving approach can bring to the strategic challenges facing nonprofits. I decided to undertake an Oliver Wyman Nonprofit Fellowship with a charity tackling a cause that I feel particularly passionate about: global extreme poverty.
GiveDirectly is a nonprofit working in this space that I have followed and donated to for a few years, and therefore was the perfect organization for me to work with to get exposure to the development sector. They adopt a radical but evidence-backed approach to tackling poverty – their mission is to help people living in extreme poverty by sending them unconditional cash transfers. GiveDirectly believe that "people living in poverty deserve the dignity to choose for themselves how best to improve their lives — cash enables that choice." Unconditional cash transfers are supported by widespread evidence of effectiveness, with over 300 studies demonstrating long term increases in measures like earnings, subjective wellbeing, and health outcomes.
The NFP enabled me to apply the consulting toolkit developed through projects at Oliver Wyman to improve the effectiveness of an already highly effective charity
The organization operates across 10 countries, predominantly in Africa, and in the last 2 years has initiated a new model in Morocco giving cash to cooperatives rather than individuals. Cooperatives play an important role in Morocco’s national economic and social development but many have been severely affected by Covid-19 restrictions and were forced to halt or slow down their income-generating activities. I was tasked with evaluating the first phase of the program and providing recommendations for future GiveDirectly group funding programs.
To understand the operational feasibility of the group funding model and how effective the program had been at targeting vulnerable groups, I conducted three weeks of fieldwork interviewing recipients with a translator in remote locations in the Atlas Mountains. It was incredible witnessing the hospitality of the Moroccan people and the ingenuity of the entrepreneurs who had received funding from the program. Working and living in a completely different cultural setting opened my eyes to the diverse ways of doing business and celebrating life, and will certainly have a lasting impact on me. The findings and recommendations from my work are being used to improve the design of the second phase of the program in Morocco and will help GiveDirectly target and deliver cash to groups more effectively in future programs.