MICROFINANCE PUBLICATION ROUND-UP: Impact of M-Pesa Mobile Money; Microinsurance in Sri Lanka; Women’s Financial Diaries in India, Kenya, Mexico

“The Long-run Poverty and Gender Impacts of Mobile Money”; by Tavneet Suri and William Jack; published in Science; December 8, 2016, 4 pages; available at http://science.sciencemag.org/content/354/6317/1288.full/

This article reviews a study that assessed the impact of the M-Pesa mobile payment service in Kenya. The study indicates that 96 percent of Kenyan households had access to M-Pesa as of 2016. The authors estimate that access to M-Pesa has lifted 194,000 households above the official poverty line in the country since its launch in 2007. The impact appears to be greater for households that are headed by women due to factors including that many low-income women have left subsistence farming to engage in cash-generating entrepreneurial activities upon gaining access to M-Pesa. This allowed the women to save more money, increasing the financial resilience of their families.

“The Landscape of Microinsurance in Sri Lanka”; by Basix Consulting; published by the Microinsurance Network and the Munich Re Foundation; 2016; 24 pages; available at http://www.microinsurancenetwork.org/groups/landscape-microinsurance-sri-lanka/

This study covers the Sri Lankan microinsurance sector from 2013 to 2015. While Microinsurance was launched in Sri Lanka to support microloans against default, the subsector expanded during the study period to include health insurance policies for low-income individuals. As of 2015, 1.46 million microinsurance policies existed in Sri Lanka, covering 6.9 percent of the country’s population.

The authors also discuss premium levels, claims ratios, delivery channels, and technologies used for sales and premium collection. They argue that health and property risks are the major risk factors for low-income households in the country. The study concludes that despite the potential of the microinsurance sector in the country, it remains “experimental”[6] and faces obstacles such as “high administrative costs;” “low capacity of poor households to pay premiums;” inflexible enrollment procedures; insufficient regulation and a lack of highly skilled professionals.

“A Buck Short – What Financial Diaries Tell Us About Building Financial Services That Matter to Low-income Women”; by Julie Zollmann and Caitlin Sanford; published by Bankable Frontier Associates and Omidyar Network; July 2016; 32 pages; available at https://www.omidyar.com/sites/default/files/file_archive/Pdfs/16-07-01_A_Buck_Short_Report_Digital_FINAL.pdf/

This paper provides insights into the financial standing of women based on a small sample of financial diaries that women maintained between 2012 and 2015 in India, Kenya and Mexico. The challenges that low-income women face in pursuing financial success include interruptions due to child bearing, caretaking of extended family members, relationship breakdowns, limited education, limited employment opportunities, and restrictions on property ownership and inheritance. Other factors include a lack of woman-specific financial products, family pressures that often limit the distance that women can travel for work; limited social networks; and the fact that women’s earnings are often different to men’s with regard to amounts, timing and means of acquiring them.

The authors conclude that “coordinated leadership from financial services providers, regulators and policymakers” is necessary to achieve financial inclusion of over 1 billion “low-income but economically active women”[9]. Their suggestions include to provide: (1) services with low transaction costs; (2) better tools to manage finances and risks; (3) ways to help women build and utilize social networks in more efficient ways; and (4) other services that increase women’s resilience.

By Alíz Crowley, Research Associate

Sources and Additional Information:

[1] Science Newsline: Mobile Money Access Lifted 2% of Kenyan Households Out of Poverty, Finds New Study

[2] Science.org: The long-run poverty and gender impacts of mobile money

[3] MicroCapital Universe Profile: Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

[4] MicroCapital Universe Profile: Financial Sector Deepening Kenya

[5] MicroCapital Universe Profile: M-Pesa

[6] The Microinsurance Network: The Landscape of Microinsurance in Sri Lanka

[7] MicroCapital Universe Profile: The Microinsurance Network

[8] MicroCapital Universe Profile: Munich Re

[9] Omidyar Network: A Buck Short – What Financial Diaries Tell Us About Building Financial Services That Matter to Low-Income Women

[10] MicroCapital Universe Profile: Omidyar Network

Do you know that MicroCapital publishes the MicroCapital Monitor newspaper each month? Find out more at http://www.microcapital.org/products-page/.

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