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Posted on June 18, 2015

Financial Diaries research reveals how Kenya’s low-income families earn, save and spend their money

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Tuesday 12th August, 2014: The results of an ambitious nationwide project designed to deepen understanding of the financial lives of low-income Kenyans by capturing all their transactions over one year were launched today by the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) Governor Prof Njuguna Ndung’u.

Known as the Financial Diaries study, research teams from the project visited nearly 300 low-income households every two weeks for more than a year recording every shilling coming into and flowing out of the household. The data obtained paints a rich picture of the financial lives of poor Kenyans and sheds new light on their unmet financial needs.

Presenting the key insights at the launch event, the Diaries project manager Julie Zollmann explained that the financial lives of the poor were incredibly complex, with an average of ten separate income sources observed per household:

“Remittances by friends and relatives were an important source of income, particularly for rural households and women. They account for 25% of incomes in rural households and 6% in urban ones. The findings also reveal that poor Kenyans are in fact saving, but they are choosing to hold most of their savings in informal financial devices. Only 9% of financial assets are being held in the formal sector.”

As he launched the Financial Diaries findings, Prof Njuguna Ndung’u remarked: “This project highlights important gaps in current offerings in our market while also giving us a much deeper understanding of peoples’ earning and spending patterns. I hope that these rich insights inspire some creative thinking in my private sector colleagues to tackle this product relevance challenge and consider some new approaches to the low-income market.”

The CBK Governor concluded by pointing out that the Diaries data provided the information needed by service providers to come up with new innovative approaches in the market. For more information on the survey results:


Click to download Julie Zollman’s launch presentation

Click to download the keynote address by the CBK Governor

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