Costing Complex Cash Transfers: A Case Study of the Savings and Investment Linkages (SAIL) Program in South Africa

  • Date Posted: November 18, 2019
  • Authors: CGillum
  • Document Types: Case Study or Vignette
  • Donor Type: U.S. Agency for International Development

This brief provides a framework for quantifying program costs based on the SAIL pilot model. SAIL was a youth-oriented cash transfer program working in combination with youth employment and development activities. It aimed to improve savings behavior and expand financial inclusion among youth living in poor households, as well. When adapting this model to cost other livelihoods-linked cash transfers, policymakers must keep a few key considerations in mind:

  • The costing model presented in this brief is based on a pilot as opposed to a mature or nationally-scaled program. Mature programs can leverage economies of scale and lessons from pilot programs to improve efficiency. They are likely to face fewer bottlenecks in program implementation compared to pilots, and to generate significant savings in terms of delivery cost per participant. This phenomenon is demonstrated in the scaling costs presented in the costing model.
  • A non-profit organization implemented the SAIL pilot. A government intervention at the scale of this pilot, rather than a national program, is likely to incur higher administrative and bureaucratic costs as well as higher labor costs.
  • If using this model to cost other programs, it should be adapted to reflect contextual differences such as the ease of targeting, geographical reach and other factors that might alter program costs.