It looks like a great pilot. The founders quote impressive evidence that giving poor people money is a good way to help them tackle poverty.
Personally, I’m convinced. It’s not going to fix the causes of poverty, like making governments work for the poor, providing decent jobs or tackling discrimination. Those are all still crucially important.
But it puts the idea of empowerment directly into practice: empowering local people to spend aid money in ways that they have reason to value (as Amartya Sen put it). That could be more effective than running workshops on the subject.
It’s also respectful, extremely cheap and – with modern technology – relatively easy to police against fraud. That ticks a lot of boxes. It gives high confidence of short term results, rather than low confidence of long term results – sadly the category a lot of projects fall into.
Most of all, it meets a golden rule of NGO management: treat beneficiaries the way you’d like to be treated yourself.
If someone had funding to help you, how much of it would you want them to spend on staff to organise you into a neighbourhood committee and write reports to donors – and how much would you want them to give directly to you?