Microfinance & Gender: Some Findings from the Financial Diaries in Malawi

Identifying gender-specific financial behaviour in Malawi

This brief is based on a study “Cash In, Cash Out: Financial Transactions and Access to Finance in Malawi” which examined the financial behaviors of low-income Malawians using the financial diaries methodology. Opportunity International Bank of Malawi’s (OIBM’s) branchless banking innovation, a mobile banking van, was a central focus of the study. This brief focuses on gender-specific income streams, spending patterns, and banking preferences.

The study tracked the transactions of men and women separately. It aggregated data by gender to find key differences between male and female Financial Diaries participants. Findings include:

  • Convenience drives usage of formal financial services;
  • Van’s convenience seemed to be more important for women;
  • Women’s transactions are smaller and much more frequent than men’s;
  • Women are more reliant on cash transfers.

Study findings indicate that new technologies, such as mobile phones, hold out the prospect of lowering cost per transaction and enabling the transfer of cash across long distances. These will enable women to transact with banks cheaply and conveniently, and receive cash gifts cheaply and safely if senders are far away.

About this Publication

By Stuart, G., Ferguson, M. & Cohen, M.