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 Last update: July 25, 2022

Fighting poverty

There is a wide consensus around the benefits and long-term success of direct giving programs. We offer an overview of the latest scientific literature in our Evidence section.


Princeton University
Johannes Haushofer, Jeremy Shapiro

Quarterly Journal of Economics
Christopher Blattman, Nathan Fiala, Sebastian Martinez

It’s definitely more helpful than sending no money at all. Many people today advocate for equal opportunity in employment. This is obviously a goal worth aiming for, but it tends to ignore the fact that for many people born in the world’s poorest countries, employment as it is typically understood isn’t even possible or accessible. Giving money can help break down this barrier and give more people living in poverty access to work, education, and decent living conditions.


Social Science & Medicine
Gustavo Angeles, Jacobus de Hoop, Sudhanshu Handa & more

Journal of Development Economics
Sudhanshu Handa, Luisa Natali, David Seidenfeld & more

Striving for equality

Social Income isn’t a theory of equality. It’s here to help make the world more fair, by taking advantage of the immense gap between rich and poor to carry out a simple, direct redistribution based on solidarity. It also helps contribute to self-driven change and a certain degree of financial independence for people in need.

This process only works as long as inequality continues to exist; as soon as the distribution of wealth across the world becomes balanced, Social Income will no longer be useful.

States or markets can, in theory. But not all states (can) care for their citizens adequately and not all markets create long-lasting equality for everyone.

That’s where a third option comes in: ourselves. We already know how to recognize inequality and feel empathy for disadvantaged people, even if they aren’t exactly our neighbors. And we also have the technical skills to move money globally. If you think about it, nothing is missing to start remedying the world’s economic grievances today.


We believe so, yes. In a globalized world with almost no borders for goods and outsourced production, all histories become interconnected in shared destinies.

Today, solidarity is an endangered resource. In an era that emphasizes the individual over everything else, our sense of community often takes a backseat to personal success. But this doesn’t mean that solidarity will disappear; it just has to adapt, and so do the projects that rely on it to meet their goals. From this perspective, we believe that solidarity can be stronger than ever.

Individualization also means that everyone who wants to get involved in solidarity can do so, without any roadblocks to stop them. The only difference is that they’ll do it on their own terms, with their own methods. Social Income is one choice available among others. A new kind.

The major issues that humanity faces, whether economic or ecological, are too complex and interlinked to be solved without recourse to solidarity. Individualism may be a fine road to personal self-discovery, but it isn’t of much use in solving collective challenges like inequality and poverty.

Universal Basic Income

Like Universal Basic Income (UBI), Social Income provides regular, unconditional payments as a basic living stipend delivered to citizens on an individual basis. Whereas Universal Basic Income would be provided by a state or government, Social Income is provided from person to person. This means that it doesn’t have to rely on political will, budgeting, or taxation to succeed. Social Income is also specifically aimed at people living in extreme poverty, so its primary goal is wealth redistribution—which isn’t necessarily the case of UBI.

According to the official OECD’s definition, cash transfers “consist of the payment of currency or transferable deposit by one unit to another without any counterpart”. More concretely, direct cash transfers are a form of social protection that includes cash or vouchers given directly to poor individuals rather than to governments or other state actors. Particularly over the past decade, they have been increasingly used as a tool for reducing poverty and vulnerability in middle and low-income countries (see Holmes and Bhuvanendra 2013).

The very idea behind UBI is to give recipients money that they can use as they please.


For Social Income to be scalable, we need to be sure it works. To ensure it works, we need to start small. This means using both a small pool of initial recipients and asking for a small initial donation from contributors. 1% is a negligible amount for contributors that can have a considerable impact on recipients’ lives, though higher donations may be possible in the future.

For example, say 25% of Swiss citizens support Social Income. Given that the average salary in Switzerland is $6,000 per month, if this 30% contributed 1% of their incomes, that would pay for Social Income for every person living in Sierra Leone. This simplified illustration can still give us a good idea of the project’s potential.

We accept all major cryptocurrencies and use Coinbase to safely process your donation. Crypto donations will be automatically exchanged in USD and handled in the same way as regular donations. You can easily contribute through this page.

Any time, without notice. Just login and opt out in your preferences.

We believe that we should do what we can to aid the lives of strangers, especially at relatively little cost to ourselves. We also believe that this rational argument is as effective at promoting charitable giving as emotional appeals. We prefer to avoid the typical imagery employed by NGOs working in Africa that can potentially fuel negative stereotypes of the continent.


We determine possible new recipients thanks to the groundwork of our local advocates and partnerships with local NGOs: Aurora Foundation, Reachout Salone and Jamyl & Nyanga Jaward Foundation. Our criterias are simple: recipients must be older than 16 and come from a low income community. One other major principle is to keep up a strict gender balance/equality and to support people in need.

The very idea behind Social Income (and Universal Basic Income) is to give recipients money that they can use as they please.

We work closely with local advocates to determine future recipients. There is currently no option to sign up through our website.

You have to start somewhere, and Sierra Leone makes sense for several reasons. While one of the world’s younger democracies, it unfortunately regularly tops rankings as one of its poorest countries. Still, big progress has been made in recent years, notably in adopting mobile banking in urban areas across the country. So, not only is Sierra Leone in need of help, it’s also uniquely positioned to receive it from a digitally-focused approach.

That said, Social Income isn’t just made for Africa. We believe that individual action can have a universal impact and hope to expand the project’s reach to people in need across the world. In the future, the initiative could also be rolled out to countries in Latin America and Asia, for example. However, to focus our energy as best as possible, it makes sense to gain experience in a single location first.

The Arts

Social Income’s founding team has close links to the art world, which made it possible to fund the initial stages of the project. We believe that the art world has a certain responsibility to foster cultural exchange and help out fellow humans, no matter who they are. You find more about the contributions from the arts on this dedicated webpage.


If you are interested in making a social impact with your skillset, take a look at the open opportunities on our Idealist page or get in touch with us today!