Grameen Foundation India and MetLife Foundation help 1,225 low income households affected by COVID19

New Delhi: Kaushilya living in Nawada, Bihar has an ailing husband at home. As patients of autism, none of them can work long hours and depend on a piece of land, the only asset they own. The Unconditional Cash Transfer (UCT) by Grameen Foundation with the support of MetLife Foundation has helped them continue their medical rehabilitation program.

COVID-19 has brought an unprecedented and devastating crisis for millions of people, affecting their health, livelihoods, and food security. Informal sector workers, small businesses, and migrant workers are among the hardest hit.

In response to this global crisis, MetLife Foundation partnered with Grameen Foundation India, to provide Unconditional Cash Transfers(UCT) to some of the most vulnerable people across the three districts of Nawada, Bhandara, and Nagpur in Bihar and Maharashtra. The program has helped 1,225 households in these districts, benefiting over 6,000 people. Women made up about 71% of the total beneficiaries, 84% belonged to marginalized communities (Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and Other Backward Classes) and 35% lived below the national poverty line. 61% of the beneficiaries were also food insecure & most of the beneficiary households (92%) had a migrant worker who was the key source of income for the household. Our on-ground research suggests the UCT helped the recipients manage their immediate needs through the pandemic.

The assistance helped build the resilience of the households to withstand the economic shock and ensure food security. Very small/tiny businesses were able to restart their operations by having access to small working capital grants. Grameen leveraged its ground presence and innovative use of digital technology to identify the most vulnerable people and extend cash transfers directly into their bank accounts. A custom-built mobile application, Grameen4Giving, was used to assess potential beneficiaries based on multiple socio-economic indicators. Personal verification and community recommendation made the entire process objective, participatory and transparent.

Grameen’s network of last mile agents ‘Grameen Mittras,’ enabled the beneficiaries to withdraw funds from their bank accounts right at their doorstep and continues to serve the community in these districts.

“Unconditional cash support is one of the most effective ways to help people affected by large scale emergencies, as it gives power in the hands of the people to make their own decisions and spend the money on whatever is most important to them. Robust digital platforms and near universal coverage of PMJDY bank accounts in India has made it possible to quickly and efficiently scale this program to support a large number of people”, says Prabhat Labh, CEO of Grameen Foundation India.”

“PNB MetLife has a long track record of supporting underprivileged communities and we are pleased that MetLife Foundation’s support brought much-needed relief to those impacted by COVID-19. Our aim is to always make a positive impact on the communities where we operate and during this COVID-19 crisis, MetLife Foundation has supported a number of CSR activities, like providing masks, hygiene kits and food rations to those in need,” said Ashish Kumar Srivastava, MD & CEO, PNB MetLife.