Global Activism: Public policy graduate creates 'Basic Transfer', for a different approach to solving global poverty

June 19, 2014

(AP Photo/Biswaranjan Rout)
Indian children search for reusable material amid garbage in Bhubaneswar, India. June 12 marked World Day Against Child Labor. Grinding poverty still leads many kids to work. Tricia Martinez wants to alleviate this kind of poverty with her ‘Basic Transfer’ project.

After graduating from the University of Chicago’s Harris School of Public Policy, Tricia Martinez came to believe that, “policy solutions are not driven by potential impact for the individual or the ability to influence large-scale change, rather they are driven by political agendas.” She wanted to take a different approach to solving some of the world’s biggest humanitarian problems.  For Global Activism, Martinez will tell us about her new collaborative project called “Basic Transfer”. It’s a “hybrid social venture with a mission to lift women around the world out of poverty through cash transfers.”

Tricia wants to create a revolution in fighting poverty through technology:

"I am a social innovator and builder with a policy lens. Solving problems is what really excites me and I have found that the most critical part of addressing societal challenges is being able to connect and empathize with individuals unlike yourself. However, with a background in public policy, I see that many policy solutions are not driven by potential impact for the individual or the ability to influence large-scale change, rather they are driven by political agendas.

There is definitely a disconnect between the academic world conducting advantageous research and discovering new ways to solve problems and the real world solutions we actually implement. This is why I founded Basic Transfer. I wanted to take the research that my training was founded on and take it to scale. Poverty has always been the most fascinating phenomenon to me. The fact that 1.3 billion people live off of less than $1.25 a day and 70% of these people are women in the year 2014 is unacceptable, but society can still not figure out how to alleviate it at scale or eliminate it. Cash transfers have the ability to change the poverty landscape completely, but at the end of the day there is a stigma with handing cash to a poor person and giving them the choice on how to live their life. Basic Transfer will change that through our peer-to-peer giving platform, transparent model, and impact metrics showing donors where exactly there money is going and how $25 can create significant impact.

We are a poverty alleviation solution driven by research and results and as a social venture we have the ability to innovate and scale without being held back by agendas or institutional constraints. Unconditional cash transfers can lift millions of people out of poverty; it is just about breaking the traditional model and that is exactly what Basic Transfer is going to do."