The need for cost-effective government interventions to alleviate poverty and economic exclusion is acute in sub-Saharan Africa where recent economic growth has not led to broad-based, inclusive development. In Zambia, the government has launched a new initiative to assist women from the poorest households to improve the productivity of their livelihood activities and lead their households out of poverty. The Supporting Women’s Livelihood (SWL) initiative provides a one-off infusion of human, financial, and social capital that combines skills training, a cash grant of US$ 225, group mentoring, and support to form savings groups. Over the course of three years, the intervention is expected to reach 75,000 adult female participants living in half the districts of Zambia.
The impact evaluation will test different variations of the comprehensive package of SWL interventions building upon the “graduation approach” popularized by a recent six-country study conducted by Banerjee (2015a). Moreover, the SWL evaluation will determine the effectiveness of the approach when implemented at scale by the government. It will also measure spillovers and general equilibrium effects at the community level. The impact evaluation will, therefore, fill critical knowledge gaps on productive safety nets and women’s economic empowerment, and also provide practical insights for policymakers seeking a parsimonious program that limits costs and implementation complexity while achieving measurable welfare impacts.