Covid Dialogues: Cash Grants to Support Female Entrepreneurs

Hosted by:
Live via Zoom


Masked women exchanging money at a market
Photo: Yaw Niel |

As the Covid-19 pandemic spread around the world, countries instituted measures to stop the spread of the virus and to replace lost income from shutdown orders and the broader economic contraction. Women-led small businesses and informal workers were particularly vulnerable to these shocks, and many did not have access to government relief programs. One solution may be unconditional cash transfers to help vulnerable communities withstand Covid-19 shocks and improve economic outcomes. This Covid Dialogues webinar will share evidence on the effectiveness of cash transfers and discuss its policy implications in sub-Saharan Africa.

The Covid-19 pandemic corresponded with an economic contraction as governments around the world implemented measures to stop the spread of the virus. Women may bear the brunt of the economic impact, as they tend to earn less, have fewer savings, and less access to social protections. Policymakers are looking for ways to support women-led small businesses and workers to help them weather the shock. One such strategy has been to provide unconditional cash transfers as a critical assistance tool, and as of September 2020, 156 countries had initiated some form of cash transfers to combat the Covid-19 crisis.

During this webinar, researchers will share evidence from a randomized evaluation, funded by the Jobs and Opportunity Initiative (JOI) and Gender and Economic Agency Initiative (GEA), in Kenya that measured the impact of providing cash transfers to female entrepreneurs in a dense informal settlement during the pandemic on their business outcomes and behavior. Panelists from will discuss their philanthropy’s insights about cash transfers in sub-Saharan Africa. Panelists will also discuss the implications of this new research for evidence-informed decision-making in Kenya and other contexts. A short audience Q&A session will follow the panel discussion. 

This webinar is hosted by JOI and GEA at J-PAL as part of the Covid Dialogues series, which features insights from researchers and policymakers on how to respond with evidence to the Covid-19 pandemic’s most critical policy questions.


Liza Belozerova, Panelist
Liza Belozerova leads the economic opportunity portfolio at in Europe, Middle East and Africa. She is also responsible for leading’s philanthropic efforts in sub-Saharan Africa. 

Wyatt Brooks, Panelist
Wyatt Brooks is an associate Professor at the W. P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University and coauthor on the JOI- and GEA-funded study Cash Transfers as a Response to COVID-19: Experimental Evidence from Kenya.

Jackline Oluoch-Aridi, Panelist
Jackline Oluoch-Aridi is the regional research programs manager for the University of Notre Dames Ford Program, a post-doctoral research fellow at Strathmore University Business School, and coauthor on the JOI- and GEA-funded study Cash Transfers as a Response to COVID-19: Experimental Evidence from Kenya.

Oluwatamilore Oni, Panelist
Oluwatamilore Oni is a program manager at where she manages the portfolio in sub-Saharan Africa. 

Joy Kiiru, Moderator
Joy Kiiru is a senior lecturer at the University of Nairobi and a part-time policy and research advisor for the GEA at J-PAL.

Webinar Recording