Microfinance in India: A Primer on the Financial Diaries Methodology

Studying cash usage patterns of microfinance clients
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This note details the dos and don’'ts of the financial diaries methodology.

The Microfinance Group of the Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore, India, was involved in a year-long project that studied cash usage patterns of microfinance clients. The study, which began in September 2008, asked participants to keep financial diaries. The note provides basic guidelines on carrying out such a study. They include:

  • Study team should be introduced to participants by someone they know and trust;
  • Recruitment of participants should be made in groups, ideally at self help group meetings;
  • Unwilling participants should not be coerced into the study;
  • Study team should visit participants'’ homes and get to know their families;
  • Diaries should be simple and unstructured;
  • Field assistants should conduct a baseline survey of demographic, socio-economic, education and health status before starting the diaries;
  • Field assistants are crucial to the study, and would benefit from training by trained social workers and qualitative researchers.

This note would be useful to NGOs and other research groups wanting to implement the financial diaries methodology, either for purposes of research or as a tool towards participants’ financial literacy.

About this Publication

By Kamath, R., Ramanathan, S. & Rathna, S.