In 2018, the Ministry of Labour and Social Protection in Kenya launched the newest phase of its social safety net program Inua Jamii with an audacious goal: provide all beneficiaries with a full bank account and offer them a choice among four financial services providers. The Inua Jamii program (Swahili for “uplift the family”) has been operational since 2004 and now reaches 1.2 million beneficiaries (as of the end of December 2019) across four programs targeting particularly vulnerable groups in Kenya. Beneficiaries can access funds at bank branches and biometrically enabled agents of the bank of their choice. In this case study, the authors examine how the Inua Jamii program gradually introduced payments digitization, then choice to design a program that has successfully scaled to reach the most vulnerable groups in Kenya. We look at how the Kenyan government sought to offer beneficiaries’ choice, convenience, and ultimately, greater dignity in how they access and use their safety net payments and other financial services. The study details how Kenya has enlisted private banks to deliver social benefits and has offered them incentives to promote outreach in rural areas. The authors also describe how development partners supported the transformation of the social safety net programs.

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