Giving goods vs. giving money: A story of eggs, cash, and basic income

By Scott Santens

I love watching documentaries and one of my recent favorites on Netflix, aside from Noam Chomsky's "Requiem for the American Dream", is "Poverty, Inc." I highly recommend just watching the entire film yourself, but there is one story from it that is one of my new favorites to share onward, and that's the story by Peter Greer who is the CEO of Hope International.

As soon as I first saw it, I immediately even recorded it onto my phone and shared it on Twitter. It is such a short and simple lesson of the unintended consequences of giving goods instead of cash to buy goods.

Transcript: Growing up, the model that I saw was this model that we would have a shoe drive at church, and we'd all give our excess shoes. We never knew what happened but we knew we were responding to this desire that we had to help the poor... the vulnerable. What I experienced living overseas, especially in Rwanda, was the end of the story. The collection in some ways is the easy part. The distribution is where there are a lot of complications, and I had my eyes opened to this through a friendship with Jean.

Jean was a friend in Rwanda and he told me this story that after the Rwandan genocide, that he had a church from Atlanta that started sending over eggs, and ended up just distributing eggs in a small community outside of Kigali.

And this seems like a great thing to do, right? The church wanted to help after the genocide. But Jeano a few years before had started this small egg business himself. He put this investment in all the materials that he needed to start this egg business. His business was starting to grow. It was starting to take off and then all of a sudden in one summer, there comes this surplus of eggs that were flooding the market in his area.

To read more or watch the short video, click here.