Publications
Published on April 30, 2014

What do low-income people know about money? Indigenous financial concepts and practices and their implications for financial inclusion

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Summary

In what ways do norms and expectations about the actual processes of saving and borrowing create a disjuncture between the formal sector and indigenous experiences? Bridging this divide between every day and formal financial concepts and practices is part of the key to being able to develop more appropriate products and services that will support financial inclusion. This insights brief brings together findings from two over-lapping research projects that address this question. Both studies examined indigenous practices of resource exchange through saving, lending and gifts. In the first, research examined the language used for the core financial concepts of savings and borrowing, and explored some of the social and cultural practices that these concepts involved. This was undertaken in Kitui and dealt specifically with Kikamba terminology. While this was a very focused study, it raised issues that resonated with the second study and which therefore have wider relevance. The second study delved in more depth into the nature of inter-personal transactions involved in financial and other resource transfers in a bid to understand their social dynamics and meaning for those involved. It was undertaken in three areas: Mathira, Kitui and Nyamira.

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