The Human Account is led, created and developed by Dalberg with Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors, and funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

 

Local partners are Lagos Business School in Nigeria, Ashoka University in India, not-for-profit development finance company, Karandaaz in Pakistan, and research and advisory firm, Busara Center for Behavioral Economics in Kenya.

KENYA

Communal

Pragmatists

self-confident, planners, dependent

25% of adult population  |  7.4 million people

 

Cautious Pragmatists are generally lower-middle-income, rural, married women
who rely on social support or farming for their income. They are self-confident and identify as effective planners, but struggle with low and volatile incomes, paying bills, and numerous financial emergencies for which they turn to family and friends.
Many lack economic and financial autonomy, but nevertheless aspire to invest in businesses and also build a financial cushion to better meet their daily needs.
They use technology at low rates and rarely own formal financial accounts, though
most have mobile wallets. Cautious Pragmatists strongly prefer managing their
money through social channels despite low to moderate trust in people.

Communal Pragmatists

Kenya Average

FINANCIAL DECISIONS

support from others

43%

25%

farmers

26%

30%

EDUCATION

informal education

29%

9%

primary education

42%

41%

PHONE

own smartphone

19%

33%

feature phone

65%

69%

LAND

personally own land

40%

41%

commonly own

51%

N/A

GENDER (FEMALE)

72%

53%

AGE (18-34)

GEOGRAPHY (RURAL)

87%

77%

SOCIOECONOMIC

75%

SES 1-3

FORMAL ACCOUNT

OWNERSHIP

11%

38%

INFORMAL

FINANCIAL USAGE

24%

42%

MOBILE WALLET

OWNERSHIP

70%

88%

TECH USE

(LOWEST FREQUENCY)

74%

52%

51%

51%

 

WHO ARE THEY?

Demographics

“I don’t want my daughter to lead my life.

I want her to go far away. She wants to be an airline pilot.

SCOVIA

SOCIOECONOMIC STATUS (SES)

Communal Pragmatists

Kenya Average

Demographics


Communal Pragmatists are mostly lower-middle-income, rural, married women who rely on income support or farming. Nearly half of Communal Pragmatists also depend on someone else to make financial decisions on their behalf. Just over a third identify as primary household decision makers. They skew toward both young and old, with a smaller proportion of middle-aged individuals than make up the overall population of Kenya. Nearly a third have only informal schooling and relatively few have completed secondary or tertiary school. They are the least educated and lowest-income segment in Kenya.

Social Network

Communal Pragmatists are mostly lower-middle-income, rural, married women who rely on income support or farming. Nearly half of Communal Pragmatists also depend on someone else to make financial decisions on their behalf. Just over a third identify as primary household decision makers. They skew toward both young and old, with a smaller proportion of middle-aged individuals than make up the overall population of Kenya. Nearly a third have only informal schooling and relatively few have completed secondary or tertiary school. They are the least educated and lowest-income segment in Kenya.

RESILIENCE: SOURCES OF MONEY IN AN EMERGENCY

Communal Pragmatists

Kenya Average

WHAT DO THEY WANT?

Aspirations

Communal Pragmatists aspire to invest above all else, suggesting that they may desire a deeper role in the household economy and finances if they are dependents, while farmers and laborers may seek to grow their businesses. They also heavily prioritize building cash reserves and investing in their social network, suggesting a need to mitigate income volatility and reflecting a resilience strategy grounded in their social safety net.

 
 

HOW DO THEY MANGE MONEY?

Financial Behavior

“When I plan better, I save and then move on.

I don’t want to be in a job forever. I want to know how long.”

SCOVIA

Financial Health Overview

Communal Pragmatists struggle to maintain financial health. Across all behaviors, they measure below average for Kenya, struggling most to build financial reserves. Two-thirds of Communal Pragmatists own mobile wallets and nearly all who do receive money with them, with nearly two-thirds cashing out fully upon receiving. Less than a third use mobile wallets to save or borrow. Aside from mobile, they rarely own or use formal accounts. Half save and a third borrow with family, and at the highest frequencies compared to all other channels. About a quarter are members of informal financial groups, and most who are use them very actively for saving and borrowing. Two-thirds find financials services complicated, likely driving down formal service usage rates.

BEHAVIORAL INDEX
FINANCIAL ACCESS

Communal Pragmatists

Kenya Average

Financial Access

Communal Pragmatists manage their money through diverse channels. Half save and a third borrow with family. About a quarter are members of informal financial groups, and most who use them do so very actively for saving and borrowing. Two-thirds have mobile wallets to receive money with the majority cashing out fully upon receiving. Less than a third use their mobile wallets to save or borrow. They rarely own or use formal accounts other than mobile wallets. Two-thirds find financials services complicated, which is one likely factor in driving down formal service usage rates.

Financial Priorities

Communal Pragmatists aspire to invest above all else, suggesting that they may desire a deeper role in the household economy and finances if they are dependents, while farmers and laborers may seek to grow their businesses. They also heavily prioritize building cash reserves and investing in their social networks, suggesting a need to mitigate income volatility and reflecting a resilience strategy grounded in their social safety net. They also aspire to save with banks, though at lower rates than the Kenyan average, despite the fact that three-quarters feel they do not earn enough to save—suggesting a strong desire for personal financial security.

HOW WINDFALL IS PRIORITIZED

Communal Pragmatists

Kenya Average

HAS A PLAN TO MANAGE EXPENSES

Communal Pragmatists

Kenya Average

Financial Plans

Most Communal Pragmatists identify as effective planners and measure a moderate-high level of conscientiousness, but can also be impulsive spenders. Their low SES, high income volatility, and limited participation in household financial decision making makes it difficult for them to plan expenses or save deliberately. Nevertheless, nearly half manage to plan their expenses and a third are goal-based savers, perhaps reflecting the high number of women in the segment who may be responsible for managing household expenses.

Shaping Income and Expenses

Three-quarters of Communal Pragmatists struggle with high income volatility and nearly half are not confident in their ability to pay household bills, the largest proportion of any Kenyan segment. They also have the most unpaid expenses, though half have a plan to manage expenses, which is surprising given their high income volatility. They report facing the broadest range of financial emergencies in the past year, likely due to their low SES, limited personal financial reserves, liquidity struggles, and climate factors that make farmers and farm dependents in this segment vulnerable to income disruptions.

INCOME VOLATILITY

Communal Pragmatists

Kenya Average

SAVINGS CHANNELS

Communal Pragmatists

Kenya Average

Building Reserves

Communal Pragmatists are Kenya’s most infrequent savers across all channels, and least frequent goal-based savers. Less than half save monthly or more frequently, and over a third never save—due in part to the prevalence of very young and old dependents in the segment. When they can save, Communal Pragmatists strongly prefer doing it through family or at home, with about a quarter saving monthly or more frequently. About a quarter also do so with groups and friends on a monthly basis, while a fifth do so with their mobile wallet. Very few ever save with banks. Most own land and livestock—their personal ownership rates for both assets are highest amongst Kenyan segments.

Cultivating Receivables 

About half of Communal Pragmatists are frequent borrowers, doing so once a quarter or more, though they are Kenya’s least frequent borrowers across all channels. Most who do borrow use only one channel on a quarterly basis. They prefer borrowing from family, with over two-fifths doing so frequently. In fact, they are the most likely segment to borrow from family on a monthly or more frequent basis, likely driven by their income smoothing needs, high rates of dependency, and comfort holding debt. A small minority also borrow through mobile money, informal groups and friends, though at rates well below the national average, perhaps reflecting their low feeling of dependability.

Despite nearly three-quarters of Communal Pragmatists having relied on social sources of emergency financial support in the past two years, over half are not confident in their ability to raise emergency funds, suggesting that they may feel they have over-taxed their emergency support network. However, nearly two-thirds are confident in their ability to raise money from their network specifically for business and education investments.

BORROWING CHANNELS

Communal Pragmatists

Kenya Average

PHONE USAGE

Communal Pragmatists

Kenya Average

Technology Usage

Most Communal Pragmatists have low rates of unassisted technology usage, though over half use their phones three times a day or more. They are the least frequent technology and phone users among Kenyan segments. Over two-thirds personally own feature phones, but under a fifth own smartphones.

 

HOW DO THEY THINK?

Psychology

"I never lend my money, because it’s risky.

They might not pay it back. It’s never happened to me,

but I hear stories [from people I know]."

SCOVIA

Self-perception

About three-quarters of Communal Pragmatists report a moderate to strong sense of agency. Despite high levels of satisfaction with the recent past, over half feel they will be worse off in the future and just a fifth feel they will be better off, which drives their below average expense planning. Reflecting their strong sense of agency and dim hopes for the future, most have low self-esteem, suggesting they blame themselves for their current financial struggles and unpromising prospects.

LOCUS OF CONTROL

Communal Pragmatists

Kenya Average

CONSCIENTIOUSNESS

Communal Pragmatists

Kenya Average

Conscientiousness and Openness

Most Communal Pragmatists identify as effective planners with a moderate-high level of conscientiousness, though almost half are impulsive spenders. This suggests that they are natural planners, but  have limited agency and pressing needs that may constrain their ability to plan effectively. Many are low SES, suffer high income volatility, and can participate only in a limited manner in household financial decisions, making it difficult for them to plan for expenses or save deliberately.

Attitude Towards Savings

Despite high levels of conscientiousness, identifying as effective planners, and prioritizing the allocation of 20% of a windfall to bank savings, most Communal Pragmatists are not deliberate savers. They are, in fact, the least deliberate savers among Kenyan segments. Their low SES, high income volatility, high impulsivity, and dim hopes for the future likely drive their lack of deliberate savings. Moreover, three-quarters feel that they don’t earn enough to save. However, more than any other segment, they feel their savings are safe from the claims of others, perhaps because many are dependents, which helps explain their preference for saving with family and at home.

SAVINGS DELIBERATENESS

Communal Pragmatists

Kenya Average

COMFORT WITH DEBT

Communal Pragmatists

Kenya Average

Attitude Towards Debt

Most Communal Pragmatists do not consider themselves dependable and struggle with liquidity both to repay their debts and give money to family members (often another form of debt repayment). Yet, most are comfortable holding debt, with nearly two-thirds reporting high to the highest levels of comfort of any Kenyan segment. This is likely because most borrow from family under what are often flexible terms: repayment is not always expected, debt is often forgiven, and failure to repay may come with few consequences.

Trust in People

Though many are economic dependents and rely heavily on others for financial support, over half of Communal Pragmatists do not trust people in general though they tend to trust those with whom they’ve had long-lasting relationships more than others. Over half do not trust their social financial networks when it comes to lending and repayment, yet nearly three-quarters have recently relied on social sources of emergency funds and nearly two-thirds have moderate to high confidence that their community can provide them with loans or support for business and education investments. Two-thirds do not believe the members of their communities are equal, which is not surprising given their high rates of dependency.

TRUST IN PEOPLE IN COMMUNITY

Communal Pragmatists

Kenya Average

TRUST IN BANKS

Communal Pragmatists

Kenya Average

Trust in Institutions

Two-thirds of Communal Pragmatists have low trust in banks and view financial services as complicated and confusing. They question the security of bank deposits, clarity of loan terms, and how much banks care about customers like them. This likely reduces their bank account ownerships and usage rates. Communal Pragmatists who do trust banks and find financial services straightforward may simply see little value in bank services, which could further explain their extremely low account ownership and usage rates.

DESIGN PRINCIPLES & OPPORTUNITIES

How might we support Communal Pragmatists

in becoming more disciplined, goal-oriented savers

by leveraging their self-identification as effective planners, their clear desire to build personal savings, and their aspirations to make business investments?

 
 

USER PROFILE

 

Scovia

"When I plan better, I save and then move on. I don’t want
to be in a job forever. I want to know how long."

 

 

Scovia is a 33-year-old security guard for RADAR bank. She is a single mother and lives with her 13-year old daughter in a one-room apartment in Nairobi. She also provides for her nephew, mother, and father who live back in her home village. Scovia finished primary school but did not go to secondary school because her parents couldn’t afford it. She views this as a major limiting factor in her career and world, working hard to make sure her daughter can attend secondary school, college, and beyond. “I don’t want my daughter to lead my life. I want her to go far away. She wants to be an airline pilot.” Scovia has made investments in livestock that her parents care for which cover their needs and represent savings––a cow for her daughter's education, a donkey for her nephew. She also saves with a ROSCA to help cover her bills and began saving with a COOP so she can qualify for loan to start a homeware business in her village and move back home.

USER INSIGHTS & OPPORTUNITIES

Strengthen Social Safety Networks with Low Cost Insurance Targeted at Groups 

 

Most Communal Pragmatists rely heavily on their social financial networks for emergency support, though many have low trust in people in general, as well as in their social financial networks.

These networks are usually small and cannot distribute risk broadly. Moreover, they are often homogenous, and given Communal Pragmatists’ low income and high earning volatility, their networks may struggle to consistently delivery needed loans and payouts, especially in times of macro level shocks, which may in part drive this lower trust. As Scovia learned, formal insurance products like NHIF can deliver significant value, significantly improving resilience, protecting savings, and keeping investments on track. 

 

Many Communal Pragmatists like Scovia may have limited exposure to formal insurance products, though may find them invaluable if and when they use them. Drawing inspiration from marketing concepts like agricultural demonstration plots, providers should design low cost health insurance products and market them with campaigns highlighting stories of people using insurance in times of acute need to keep their financial plans on track. In Kenya, providers might position their insurance products as functioning like NHIF,

a government product known to many Kenyans. Moreover, given the informal social nature of insurance in Kenya, targeting products to extended family networks and social financial groups like chamas can achieve coverage of a critical majority of a network.

Unlock Growth Mindsets with
Commitment Based Invest Products 

 

Despite low trust in their social financial networks, Communal pragmatists primarily save through social channels including family, chamas (ROSCAs) and Saccos (cooperatives), including for investments. Their preference for social tools is likely strongly driven by the the value these tools provide, though their lack of awareness of alternate formal options, or the poor fit and limited value of those services, may make social financial tools more attractive than they otherwise would be. Nevertheless, it is clear the commitment device offered by social savings tools are attractive to Communal Pragmatists and help them save in the face of high income volatility. Combined with the access to flexible and often timely income smoothing loans and insurance mechanism that social financial tools provide, formal savings products struggle to compete. Moreover, people like Scovia may choose to lock away their savings in income earning assets like chickens, donkeys, cows and other livestock that also offers a compelling return on investment.

 

Formal savings products should anchor their value proposition on savings towards investments and incentivize users to maintain and make more frequent deposits through matching, business training and other perks that improve the value proposition of formal savings. Such a service may resonate more with Communal Pragmatists who have a strong desire to save towards investments and may seek to diversify their savings portfolio away from social savings tools they appear to distrust.