In the sprawling slums of Jaipur, India, where poverty and gender disparities persist, a groundbreaking initiative is making a profound impact on the lives of single mothers.
Fund A Mom, a program started by philanthropist Leigh Blake in 2018, provides direct cash payments of $60 a month to single mothers in need. This simple yet powerful intervention has enabled women like Pooja and Malti to break free from the cycle of poverty, secure a livelihood, and create a brighter future for their children. By empowering single mothers and addressing socio-economic inequalities, Fund A Mom aligns with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the vision of a more inclusive and equitable global society.
India is home to over 47 million women living in extreme poverty, facing numerous barriers such as limited access to education, violence against women, and gender norms that burden them with the responsibility of childcare. Recognizing the unique challenges faced by single mothers, Leigh Blake established Fund A Mom to channel financial support directly to these women. The program currently benefits 40 single mothers in Jaipur, a city known as the Pink City for its distinctive sandstone buildings.
The impact of Fund A Mom goes beyond the monetary value of the cash transfers. While $60 a month covers essential expenses such as food, healthcare, and education for their children, it also serves as a catalyst for change. Blake emphasizes that the cash payments restore morale, boost confidence, and make the mothers feel cared for and valued. This sense of empowerment enables them to lift their heads high and pursue opportunities for themselves and their families.
Fund A Mom's approach challenges the traditional foreign aid model by recognizing that individuals experiencing poverty are best positioned to identify and address their own needs. The program's streamlined structure ensures that funds reach the recipients directly, avoiding bureaucratic hurdles and eliminating the criminalization of poverty. Blake deliberately keeps Fund A Mom lean, with a small team of five people managing the program, including two local associates who refer eligible single mothers. The criteria for participation are straightforward: being a single mother living in poverty.
Contrary to skeptics who argue that cash assistance perpetuates dependency, Fund A Mom's success in Jaipur counters this narrative. Not a single recipient has misused the funds, and many have transitioned to earning their own income through paid employment. The program not only provides a lifeline but also nurtures self-directed agency, enabling the mothers to identify opportunities and build sustainable livelihoods. As recipients become more self-reliant, they gradually phase out of the program, signaling the transformative impact of direct cash support.
Fund A Mom's model aligns with the broader movement toward cash-based interventions, exemplified by platforms like GiveDirectly. These initiatives have demonstrated that providing direct cash transfers to those living in poverty yields positive outcomes, enabling recipients to meet their immediate needs and make choices that align with their priorities. Cash assistance promotes dignity, autonomy, and agency, challenging the paternalistic approach that has hindered philanthropy for years.
Fund A Mom directly contributes to several Sustainable Development Goals, including Goal 1: No Poverty, Goal 5: Gender Equality, and Goal 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth. By alleviating poverty among single mothers, the program reduces inequality and promotes economic empowerment. It also supports Goal 4: Quality Education by enabling mothers to provide education for their children, breaking the intergenerational cycle of poverty. Additionally, Fund A Mom's emphasis on empowering women aligns with Goal 10: Reduced Inequalities and Goal 16: Peace, Justice, and Strong Institutions, which aim to create a more just and inclusive society.
As Fund A Mom's impact continues to grow, Leigh Blake envisions replicating the program across India, expanding to cities such as Bangalore, Calcutta, and Mumbai. Furthermore, the initiative is poised to extend its reach to Ghana, where Blake already supports an orphanage and has direct access to single mothers in need. By scaling this transformative approach, Fund A Mom has the potential to not only uplift single mothers but also eliminate the need for orphanages by empowering families to stay together.
Fund A Mom's direct cash payments to single mothers in Jaipur's slums are proving to be a simple yet effective solution to break the cycle of poverty. By providing financial support, restoring morale, and empowering women to chart their own paths, the program aligns with the SDGs and contributes to the vision of a more equitable global society. Fund A Mom exemplifies the transformative power of targeted interventions that recognize the agency and dignity of individuals, promoting sustainable change from within communities.