The EP Program was implemented in twelve districts in five regions of Ghana: Northern, Upper East, Bono, Bono East, and Ashanti. Innovations for Poverty Action, a research NGO, and Heifer International, an NGO focused on livelihood development, are overseeing the implementation and data collection of the program. In total, there are several program components, each of which is administered to only a subset of the households. The EP Program consists of the following components:
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy: individuals enrolled in CBT participated in a twelve week program that focused on productive thinking, dealing with negative thought distortions, setting goals and time management, and related topics. Individuals met once a week for approximately 90 minutes at a time in a group of roughly 10 people from the same community, all of the same gender. They were led by one CBT counselor and one assistant. The counselor in each community was someone with a bachelor’s degree or higher, in about half of the cases with their degree in psychology. These counselors received two weeks of classroom training from an IPA staff who designed the CBT program and one week of practice with individuals who agreed to attend a part of the curriculum.
Productive Asset transfer and training: in each district, IPA and Heifer staff met with government officials in the district assemblies, the ministry of food and agriculture, and business and enterprise development to discuss livelihoods that a low-income individual with no previous technical skills could manage in the area and where there would be a sufficiently large market for their goods. In each district, the staff developed a list of 4-5 assets for individuals to choose from, in each case with the assets worth approximately $280 USD. Common assets include goats, inputs for making shea butter, and seeds and fertilizer for growing crops.
Staff with Heifer or IPA met with chosen individuals in each community, informed them they were being chosen into the program, and gave them a list of the productive assets to choose from. Immediately prior to receiving the asset, they attended a training that lasted on average two weeks, focused on how to properly and profitably manage the asset.
Access to insurance and savings: all individuals who receive the asset transfer also had bank accounts opened for them at Ghana National (GN) Bank. They were also enrolled in the government’s health insurance, the National Health Insurance Scheme. These program components are used to help the households build wealth, and to be better handle any negative shocks that might limit their ability to properly manage their productive assets.
Consumption support: a subset of households also receive consumption support in the form of monthly cash transfers to the GN Bank account opened for them. Each transfer is worth approximately $7, and is supplied in order to ensure that each household is able to meet their most basic needs, thus discouraging the immediate sale of their productive assets.
1-on-1 visits: in some communities, a subset of households received 1-on-1 visits from Heifer or IPA staff. The staff checked in with them about any issues they might be having with their productive asset and offered guidance or answer questions as needed. These staff are also meant to shift aspirations, and help the households overcome any temptation they may have to liquidate their assets or decrease their time worked.
Group visits: in other communities, all individuals who receive the asset transfer were encouraged to attend group trainings, overseen by Heifer staff. These trainings offered a blend of asset-specific and more general training, focusing both on management of the asset, as well as skills like budgeting or managing finances. These group trainings were similarly meant to have an aspirational component.
Cash transfer: a subset of households received a one-time cash transfer to a GN Bank account opened for them. The asset transfer was worth $340 USD, the value of the asset transfer and the consumption support to graduation program households. They were given no rules or guidance about how to use this cash transfer, leaving them free to use the money as they see fit.
Control group: no goods or services were provided to the control group.