Using geo-targeting and machine learning to deliver relief to society's most vulnerable groups.

Past and Current Partners

UNDP Bangladesh /a2i, World Bank, Center for Effective Global Action (CEGA), USAID,, Government of Togo, Fonds Social de la République Démocratique du Congo (Social Fund of the Democratic Republic of Congo)

Active Countries
DRC, Bangladesh, Malawi
Thematic area(s)
Crisis, Inclusive Growth
Open Source
Organisation Name
GiveDirectly, Inc.

The Problem

MobileAid addresses the widespread development problems faced by many low- and middle-income country governments introducing cash-based crisis relief programs: (i) incomplete and low-quality databases, with serious gaps in key targeting information; and (ii) slow and costly targeting, enrollment, and payment models that can compound the secondary effects of a crisis. This is a common occurrence - while the digitization of cash continues to improve governments’ ability to distribute aid in times of crisis, identifying the poorest and most vulnerable individuals quickly and accurately remains a challenge. The target audience for this solution are global aid actors, including governments, INGOs, and NGOs, that operate in the social protection sector and can apply this model and/or our findings to improve the accuracy, inclusion, speed, and scale of their cash programs.

The Solution

MobileAid is a data science-enabled model that identifies the poorest mobile phone subscribers in a country using machine learning and sends them cash transfers remotely, at unprecedented speed, and at a lower cost than available alternatives.

How it works?

  • Step 1: Targeting: remote geo-targeting and remote individual-targeting.
  • Step 2. Enrollment: encouraging enrollment through digital tools.Enrollment is encouraged by conducting community sensitization campaigns and prompting individuals to enrol using their mobile phones.
  • Step 3. Verification: leveraging trusted ID systems to verify identity.
  • Step 4. Payment: sending mobile money to eligible individuals within minutes. This is enabled through the InstaPay system, which integrates with relevant payment aggregators and providers.
Digital X Solution MobileAid

Bridging the digital divide

MobileAid contributes toward bridging the digital divide by providing governments and other aid actors in low-income countries with the technology to identify and deliver cash relief to the poorest and most vulnerable individuals quickly and accurately, regardless of whether individuals have access to the internet or are digitally literate.

Impact and highlights

GiveDirectly supported the Government of Togo and the Government of Democratic Republic of the Congo to deliver $18M to 180k recipients using the MobileAid approach, providing critical COVID-19 relief to individuals living in poverty.

Plans for expansion

GiveDirectly plans to expand the implementation of MobileAid to Bangladesh, Nigeria, Kenya, and Malawi. The precise timeline and plans for expansion for each country are contingent on funding availability and partnerships with key stakeholders (governments, MNOs, and implementing partners). In Bangladesh, they are already working with the UNDP Bangladesh country office and key government stakeholders such as a2i to launch a MobileAid project by the end of 2022.