It seems almost ridiculously simple: when donors give money directly to recipients, poverty goes down.

Michael Faye, co-founder of GiveDirectly and Segovia, and CEO of Taptap Send, came to this “cash works” realization in the early 2000s. Michael was working on his PhD in Business Economics from Harvard University, evaluating ways to help bring about the end of extreme poverty. 

Once it became apparent that cash in the hands of recipients worked as well or better than any other intervention for relieving poverty, Michael shifted focus to finding ways to make it simple for donors to give and recipients to receive.

Many of us in the west balk at handing over cash without some middle organization vetting how the money is spent; we’ve heard too many stories of recipients using the money for drugs or alcohol or other wants we might find objectionable or frivolous. The data doesn’t support that, says Michael — in fact, recipients generally use the money to feed their families, invest in businesses, upgrade their living conditions, and so on. 

In this episode, Michael and host Charlie Bresler talk about the ripple effects of financial stability in small communities, the notion of UBI (Universal Basic Income), the cultural challenges of convincing potential donors to give cash, and the technological challenges of getting cash in the hands of recipients.

Find out more about Michael Faye and learn about (and donate to!) GiveDirectly at


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