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  • LocationsGhana, Kenya, Tanzania
  • SectorSocial protection
  • Type of investmentGrant
  • Project stageScale

Funding of $4.62 million (a grant of $2.22 million awarded in 2017, followed by a subsequent $2.4 million awarded in 2020) to design, implement, and test ‘nudges’ to encourage recipients of cash transfers to work towards productive goals and to invest towards better outcomes for their families. The grant will also be used to support country governments and the World Bank to embed nudges into government social protection programmes providing vital safety nets for poorest households.


The development problem.

Almost every developing country has a diverse set of safety net programs and other social protection measures, in particular conditional and unconditional cash transfers. The World Bank estimates that safety net programs in developing countries lift an estimated 69 million people from absolute poverty each year, a substantial contribution in the global fight against poverty. Early childhood and productive inclusion-focused cash transfers in particular have demonstrated success in Latin America and Sub-Saharan Africa, and in recent years, the adoption of programmes like this by governments across the developing world has led to a search for ways of making them more cost-effective. While countries have designed cash transfer programs in different ways, these programmes still do not account adequately for the recent body of research that shows that understanding of psychology and other social science disciplines can inform the effectiveness of government programmes. Applying insights from the growing literature on behavioural science has the potential to bring about significant additional cost-effective impact by minor adjustments to program features to “nudge” beneficiaries on their decisions and actions.

The innovation.

ideas42 use a problem-driven process to understand drivers of behaviour and draw from the behaviour science literature to design nudges which may enhance decision making. The ideas42 team will analyse each country’s cash transfer programme to define problems, diagnose the behavioural constraints, and design/test/scale solutions which include framing or labelling, timing, goal-setting and plan-making. The impact of these nudges is rigorously evaluated and findings will be disseminated to the World Bank, country governments and other stakeholders as well as add to the evidence base for the effectiveness of nudges in CT programmes and build the case for their adoption at scale.

GIF's investment.

The objectives of GIF support are:

Use a lean design process to customise and field test behavioural interventions in existing social protection cash transfer programmes focused on productive inclusion or human development outcomes in up to eight countries.

Generate and disseminate evidence on the Innovation across a wide spectrum of programmatic contexts.

Help build capacity and support for this process and its scale-up within departments of the World Bank (the Social Protection and Labour Global Practice, Africa Region, and the Mind, Behaviour and Development team (eMBeD)), the global cash transfer community of practice, and the respective country governments.

Investment objective(s).

Enable ideas42 to partner with government social protection agencies and the World Bank to deploy a problem-driven approach to implement behavioural design interventions in social protection cash transfer programmes in at least five countries. Rigorous evaluation will test the impact of behavioral additions on productive inclusion and human development outcomes, and ideas42 will support the capacity of the World Bank and local governments to apply these methods and scale proven approaches.

Why we invested

  • An innovative idea on maximising the effectiveness of a major source of development spending.
  • The potential for additional impact of programmes proven to benefit millions of poor people.
  • Cost-effectiveness – with behavioural nudges, it is possible to generate disproportionately higher impact outcomes.
  • A direct route to scale through partnership with the World Bank, which offers the ability to integrate interventions into existing large-scale social assistance programmes.
  • Strong commitment to generating and disseminating evidence to demonstrate the effectiveness of the innovation.
  • A strong and credible team, with expertise in integrating behavioural interventions into development programmes.

Click here to read ideas42’s Impact Brief.

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