For Immediate Release

Karen Levy,
Director, Global Innovation,
Evidence Action
202-5256366 or [email protected]

Y Combinator-Backed Non-Profit Startup “No Lean Season” Takes Aim at Seasonal Poverty

MOUNTAIN VIEW, CA — March 20, 2017 — No Lean Season, a program of the nonprofit organization Evidence Action that reduces seasonal poverty and hunger through small cash transfers for bus tickets, announces backing by Y Combinator and the launch of an ambitious drive to combat seasonal poverty.

No Lean Season provides $20 as a conditional cash transfer to poor rural farmers in developing countries to travel to a nearby city to find temporary work. Globally 600 million poor people in rural areas experience hunger for several months during the year when jobs are scarce and incomes and food supplies low.

No Lean Season’s participation in Y Combinator, a well-known startup accelerator, puts the organization on track to reach half a million people in 2018, up from 140,000 in 2017.

Says Karen Levy, co-founder of No Lean Season: “Y Combinator’s expertise in exponential rapid growth and building cutting-edge technologies is invaluable in growing No Lean Season to reach millions of families who would otherwise go hungry.”

Robby Walker, a partner at Y Combinator and its lead for non-profits notes: “The team behind No Lean Season are world leaders in building effective programs to reduce poverty. At YC, we have a lot of experience helping companies reach scale using technology. It’s a perfect combination.”

Researchers at Yale University found that with the additional earnings from seasonal labor in nearby cities, poor rural farmers can provide an additional meal for every member of their family, every day, for three months. This is enough to get them through the lean season. The program estimates that No Lean Season may be ten times as cost-effective as food aid, the most common response to seasonal hunger.

No Lean Season has also received funding from Good Ventures, a Silicon Valley philanthropic fund, and the Global Innovation Fund which invests in innovations that improve the lives of people in the developing world.

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Evidence Action scales up evidence-based solutions to global poverty.  No Lean Season reduces the negative effects of seasonality on the poorest in rural agricultural areas by enabling labor mobility that, in turn, increases incomes.  It is a new program that is being tested for its effectiveness in Evidence Action Betaprogram.

No Lean Season addresses the global problem of seasonal poverty that affects 600 million people around the world. The program provides a travel subsidy of $20 to the poorest rural laborers so they can send someone to a nearby city to find a job during the period between planting and harvesting. This is the time in rural areas when there are no jobs, when there is no income, and when families miss meals.

Yale University researchers evaluated the approach and found that migrant households with a temporary job during the lean season registered higher household expenditures and an increase in over 700 calories consumed per person per day — an amount equivalent to an extra meal for every member of the family during the lean season.

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