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

Confident

Builders

open-minded, conscientious, investors

28% of Kenya  |  8.2 million people

 

Mostly lower to middle income, rural, married men who work as casual laborers or farmers, Confident Builders are active financial managers and natural planners. They prioritize investments and goal-oriented bank savings, but struggle with high income volatility, unpaid bills, and the most frequent emergencies of any segment, so they find financial planning difficult. They are conscientious and open minded and heavy users of mobile wallets. They do not trust people when it comes to finances, but nevertheless, they often save and borrow with family, friends, and informal groups.

Confident Builders

Kenya Average

INCOME

casual workers

28%

N/A

self-employed

19%

N/A

EDUCATION

primary

52%

42%

secondary

41%

44%

PHONE

own smartphone

25%

33%

feature phone

72%

69%

LAND

personally own land

47%

41%

commonly own

42%

45%

GENDER (MALE)

62%

47%

AGE (18-34)

43%

51%

GEOGRAPHY (RURAL)

75%

77%

SOCIOECONOMIC

65%

SES 1-3

FORMAL ACCOUNT

OWNERSHIP

18%

18%

INFORMAL

FINANCIAL USAGE

9%

15%

MOBILE WALLET

OWNERSHIP

8%

5%

TECH USE

(HIGH FREQUENCY)

46%

36%

 

WHO ARE THEY?

Demographics

“I come from a village where no one has ever

been to university. For me, it just felt normal because

I had put a lot of effort towards it. So it was not a miracle.”

VINCENT

SOCIOECONOMIC STATUS (SES)

Confident Builders

Kenya Average

Demographics


Confident Builders consists of mostly lower to middle income, rural, married men working as casual laborers or farmers. They tend to take part in household financial decisions and just over half identify as the primary decision makers. They are slightly older than average for Kenya, and nearly all have completed primary or secondary school.

Social Network

Confident Builders can rely on their robust social networks for financial and in-kind support in emergencies. Over half have recently done so, although two thirds feel it would be impossible or difficult to raise such funds in the future. This suggests that while their connections are strong, their networks have limited capacity to deliver support. This is not surprising given that Confident Builders have faced the most types of emergencies of any Kenyan segment over the past two years.​

RESILIENCE: SOURCES OF MONEY IN AN EMERGENCY

Confident Builders

Kenya Average

WHAT DO THEY WANT?

Aspirations

Confident Builders aspire to invest and to save in banks at notably high rates, given their low savings deliberateness and infrequent bank account usage. However, despite high income volatility and challenges paying bills, they do not prioritize cash reserves for future expenses. This behavior is somewhat surprising but more common in Kenya. It demonstrates a clear priority for growing income and savings, likely in pursuit of long term investment goals and to build reserves in case of emergency.

 
 

HOW DO THEY MANAGE MONEY?

Financial Behavior

“When you have a goal you have to limit some things,

like how much people know what you’re doing.

Otherwise someone would come and try to borrow

something if they knew you had it.”

VINCENT

Financial Behavior Overview

Confident Builders financial health is shaped by their significant struggles managing liquidity. They have high income volatility and face more types of emergencies per year than any other segment. Yet, nearly all save, and they do so at the amongst the highest rates in Kenya. Three quarters save monthly with half actively using multiple savings channels, suggesting they deploy sophisticated reserve building strategies. They borrow somewhat frequently, primarily from family but also using mobile wallets, but may struggle to do so given liquidity challenges and frequent emergencies. They aspire to invest and to save in banks at notably high rates, given their low savings deliberateness and infrequent bank account usage, yet they do so infrequently perhaps due to liquidity challenges. Most Confident Builders identify as effective planners and measure moderate to high conscientiousness and low impulsivity.

BEHAVIORAL INDEX
FINANCIAL ACCESS

Confident Builders

Kenya Average

Financial Access

Nearly all Confident Builders own mobile wallets which is not surprising for Kenya. Over half save and over a third borrow digitally. They also save and borrow from family at a relatively high frequency. However, they own and utilize non-mobile formal accounts and informal groups at significantly lower rates, well below the national average.

Financial Priorities

Confident Builders aspire to invest and to save in banks at notably high rates, given their low savings deliberateness and infrequent bank account usage. However, despite high income volatility and challenges paying bills, they do not prioritize cash reserves for future expenses. This behavior is somewhat surprising but more common in Kenya. It demonstrates a clear priority for growing income and savings, likely in pursuit of long term investment goals and to build reserves in case of emergency.

HOW WINDFALL IS PRIORITIZED

Confident Builders

Kenya Average

HAS A PLAN TO MANAGE EXPENSES

Confident Builders

Kenya Average

Financial Plans

Most Confident Builders identify as effective planners, and slightly more than half report having a plan to manage expenses, though most are not deliberate savers. They rate moderate to high conscientiousness and low spending impulsivity, suggesting that financial difficulties limit their expense planning and goal-oriented savings behaviors. Nonetheless, they manage to save at among the highest rates in Kenya.

Shaping Income and Expenses

Two thirds of Confident Builders struggle with high income volatility and half are not confident in their ability to pay their household bills. They report the second highest number of unpaid expense types among segments and only half have a plan to manage expenses. Their challenges managing liquidity may contribute to frequent financial emergencies, but their access to savings, relatively strong asset base, and strong social support network may help offset the risks.

CONFIDENT IN ABILITY TO PAY HOUSEHOLD EXPENSES

Confident Builders

Kenya Average

SAVINGS CHANNELS OVERALL

Confident Builders

Kenya Average

Building Reserves

Nearly all Confident Builders save. Three quarters do so monthly or more and half actively use multiple savings channels. Over two thirds save with their mobile wallets. About half save with family and in the home and just over a third do so with groups and friends. Only a quarter save with banks. Most own land and livestock, and their personal ownership rates for each are highest among Kenyans.

Cultivating Receivables 

Confident Builders borrow frequently, but over two thirds rely on only one source, usually family.  Those who borrow using mobile wallets, informal groups, and friends tend to so more frequently.

Although most have relied on social sources for emergency financial support in the past two years, they tend to have little confidence in their ability to raise such funds. Driven in part by income volatility and frequent emergencies, their needs likely strain their limited credit channels and reduce their willingness to borrow. Most borrow using only one channel, notably family, from which they appear unable to borrow frequently.

SOURCES OF BORROWING

Confident Builders

Kenya Average

TECHNOLOGY USAGE FREQUENCY

Confident Builders

Kenya Average

Technology Usage

Most Confident Builders report low rates of unassisted technology use overall, but use their phones frequently. More than four out of five do so three times per day or more. Nearly three quarters of Confident Builders personally own feature phones, but only a quarter own smartphones.

Despite their frequent daily phone use, only slightly more than a third of Confident Builders text daily. They likely use their phones primarily for making and receiving calls. While three quarters never use the internet or social media, those who do tend to do so at least weekly.

 

HOW DO THEY THINK?

Psychology

"For me, I like being independent. You struggle on your own.

I have learned through experience that you can survive in all conditions."

VINCENT

Self-perception

Three-quarters of Confident Builders have a moderate to strong sense of agency, but, despite high levels of satisfaction with the recent past, very few feel they will be better off in the future. Nevertheless, two thirds have moderate to high self-esteem. Their pessimistic view of the future in part limits their expense planning.

CONFIDENCE IN THE FUTURE

Confident Builders

Kenya Average

Conscientiousness and Openness

Most Confident Builders identify as effective planners and measure moderate to high conscientiousness and low spending impulsivity. This suggests that despite their better inclinations, financial difficulties impede their ability to plan expenses and set savings goals. Nonetheless, they manage to save at among the highest rates in Kenya.

CONSCIENTIOUSNESS

Confident Builders

Kenya Average

Attitude Towards Savings

Most Confident Builders are not deliberate, goal-oriented savers and feel they don’t earn enough to save. Moreover, a third feel their savings are not safe from the claims of others. This helps explain their preference for saving with mobile wallets. Deposits can be made easily and frequently, in small quantities, and in secret and are more readily available for re-allocation and spending than money saved in other channels. This is appealing to those who prefer highly fungible savings that can be made ad hoc.

SAVINGS DELIBERATENESS

Confident Builders

Kenya Average

COMFORT WITH DEBT

Confident Builders

Kenya Average

Attitude Towards Debt

Most Confident Builders do not consider themselves dependable and struggle to manage liquidity but are the segment most comfortable with holding debt. Nearly half report high the highest levels of such comfort despite the fact one third struggle to manage their debt effectively. It is likely that they prioritize paying debt to informal groups and banks first, followed by family and mobile money.

Trust in People

Most Confident Builders do not trust people in general, though their trust is the broadest of all segments. They are unlikely to lend to family and friends and would not feel certain of being repaid. Similarly, they have by far the least confidence in their community to provide them with loans or support. This explains, in part, their belief that it would be difficult for them to raise emergency funds. Moreover, they do not view their communities as equal, which may drive their low trust overall.

TRUST IN PEOPLE

Confident Builders

Kenya Average

TRUST IN BANKS

Confident Builders

Kenya Average

Trust in Banks

Most Confident Builders report moderate to high trust in banks but low respect for authority. However, this moderately-high trust in banks does not translate to relatively higher rates of usage. This suggests that the security of bank deposits, clarity of loan terms, and overall care a bank shows toward its customers are not factors in  their lower rates of account ownership and usage. The problem more likely has to do with the value proposition of banking products.

DESIGN PRINCIPLES & OPPORTUNITIES

How might we develop products and services that unlock Confident Builders’ clear planning potential and leverage their strong digital savings behavior, comfort borrowing, demand for privacy, and clear need for insurance?

 
 

USER PROFILE

 

Vincent

"Most of the students in university come from well-off families, so I don't think they understand how my life is. Working hard means you have to endure for a long time to be successful. Success will take time."

 

 

Vincent is a 20-year-old student at South-Eastern Kenya University studying nutrition and dietary science. He is the first in his family and village to go to college. His reasons reveal his creative and open financial savviness. In spite of his enthusiasm for university, Vincent admits that school was his means to access working capital. He used 80% of the sizeable loan he was eligible for as a student to invest it in a building a goat herd. Rather than formal financial accounts, Vincent uses mobile money and considers his goats both his source of income and his savings–“I saw goats as more promising,” Vincent says,“you are more sure of it.” He’s deeply interconnected with a trusted older business partner, Kamau, who helps with the goat business and often provides small loans. They have a plan to grow their collective herd to 400 goats in five years’ time. Vincent is creatively working towards his future, even if his formal education doesn’t lead to a government job.

USER INSIGHTS & OPPORTUNITIES

Support Group Investment While Providing Private Saving and

Borrowing Options

Some people like Vincent are uncomfortable holding debt for fear of defaulting and disappointing their peers, so they prefer to borrow through impersonal and individual formal channels like M-Shwari, or through friends outside of the context of a group. Other people, also like Vincent, are frequent savers, but feel their savings are not safe from the claims of their friends and family, and so prefer to save through individual formal channels that provide discretion like

M-Pesa or bank accounts.

 

Confident Builders like Vincent tend to save and borrow through formal channels that afford greater privacy and discretion, and protect their relationships from the burden and stress of financial entanglement. Like most of their Kenyan peers, they still use money to strengthen social bonds, either through co-investment or by voluntarily helping each other through struggles, but prefer if possible to keep the majority of their finances private, especially from the broader community. Providers can leverage these preferences in the design of investment tools with a social element and the marketing of savings and credit services with an emphasis on privacy, security and independence.

Reduce Debt Anxiety and Improve Loan Performance with Repay-As-You-Go

 

Youthful Confident Builders like Vincent prioritize saving towards income generating investments. Many are day laborers, farmers or small business owners—Vincent is all three, while relatively few are formally employed. Given low rates of formal employment in Kenya, even well-educated youth aspire to save and invest in their own businesses, including those who have landed formal jobs. Such small businesses become part of a portfolio of earnings, complimenting farming, casual labor, and even formal salaries to provide greater economic security. Yet, such diverse earning strategies require deft financial management, especially where capital intensive farming and small businesses are involved. Confident Builders like Vincent are frequent borrowers and use a wide range of formal and informal services despite low comfort holding debt and low feelings of personal dependability due in part to their high income volatility.

 

Provide Confident Builders like Vincent with investment or working capital loans that allow for flexible repayment terms.  For example, allowing Confident Builders to make frequent small repayments leveraging their frequent savings behavior would enable them to repay more flexibly despite their volatile cash flow cycles, thereby alleviating their debt anxiety and unlocking their investor potential