This past Sunday, Haitian President Michel Martelly launched Haiti’s conditional cash transfer program "Ti Manman Cheri." The program was defined as “a social protection program for families with young children in school and living in extreme poverty…[which] regularly transfers money to these families provided they fulfill the specific commitments designed to improve their human capacities." Specifically, the programs objectives are to:
- Reduce the financial burden of education;
- Improve human capabilities of future generations;
- Improve retention and school attendance of beneficiary children;
- Positive influence on the quality of schools and the empowerment of women; and
- Inject liquidity into the local economy.
By far what’s most innovative about the program, which aims to have 100,000 beneficiaries by the end of 2012, is that it delivers payments to beneficiary women via mobile phones. Though mobiles have been used to deliver payments in programs run by NGOs, both in Haiti and in other countries such as Kenya and Niger, this is the first large-scale, government run program to use only this platform for distributing payments. This is exciting not only because of the potential cost savings, both on the government and beneficiary side, of mobile payments, but also for the increase in safety, transparency and opportunity for financial inclusion and savings.
Haiti’s “Ti Manman Cheri” comes as the New America Foundation’s Global Assets Project (GAP) readies to launch its Global Savings and Social Protection website, which will map out the global landscape of social protection programs that have cash transfers as a component. Once launched in mid-June, this website will serve as a portal not only to the most up-to-date information on cash transfer programs around the world, but also GAP’s analysis of where innovation is happening, and, just as importantly, where innovation is possible.