A buck short: What Financial Diaries tell us about building financial services that matter to low-income women

October 5th, 2016

This report was written by Bankable Frontier Associates and sponsored by Omidyar Network. It has been republished on the FSD website with their permission.

“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. 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 builds on an important and growing body of work aimed at tackling the persistent gender gap between men’s and women’s access and usage of financial products. Throughout, we highlight 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 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.

Using this approach, we find tangible evidence that helps us understand why it is even more difficult to serve financially excluded women than the generally excluded population. We also explore some of the broader contextual reasons that these barriers exist and offer some ideas for providers who aspire to meaningfully serve women.”


Zollmann, J. & Sanford, C. (2016). A buck short: What Financial Diaries tell us about building financial services that matter to low-income women. Nairobi, Kenya: Omidyar Network.




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