A Buck Short: What Financial Diaries Tell Us About Building Financial Services That Matter to Low-Income Women

Date Published: 
Oct 2016
Sanford, C. & Zollmann, J.

Why do women in emerging markets access and use formal financial services less than men?

The barriers to women’s financial inclusion are inherently complex and multifaceted, ranging from deep-seated social norms to regulatory hurdles and supply-side challenges. This report draws on Financial Diaries data from India, Kenya, and Mexico to enhance the field’s understanding of women’s financial lives, and to highlight provider-led opportunities to better serve this important market segment. It builds on a growing body of work aimed at tackling the persistent gender gap between men’s and women’s access and usage of financial products. Throughout, it highlights demand-side insights with compelling product design implications, recognizing that this is just one element of the comprehensive solution set needed to fully address the gender divide.

This work leverages a unique Financial Diaries data set developed by Bankable Frontier Associates (BFA) between 2012- 2015. Although Financial Diaries have relatively small sample sizes, this methodology collects rich stories and detailed cash flows over time, offering a nuanced view of household finance and behavioral insights that surveys often miss.

India, Kenya, Mexico