Mostly middle-aged, middle-income, religious, married women who are self-employed, farm, and make household decisions. The financially healthiest segment, most have stable incomes and nearly all plan and meet their expenses. Three-fifths save, leading among segments, and most do so deliberately, preferring family, friends, and informal groups. Nearly two-thirds borrow, most commonly from social sources. Nearly measure highly dependable, yet almost none borrow from formal or mobile providers. They are open minded and trust banks but find financial services very complex.
own land personally
own land communally
Who are they?
“It’s not appropriate for my brothers to borrow from someone else when their elder sister has the money. But of course, this is also why I haven’t been able to open my grocery store.”
SOCIOECONOMIC STATUS (SES)
Community Entrepreneurs are often middle-aged, married women who are self-employed. They frequently earn income from farming and their assets tend to be owned in common in their households. They are relatively evenly distributed across SES quintiles with a slight bias towards lower wealth. Only a quarter of Community Entrepreneurs identify as head of household, yet over half say they are the sole decision maker in the home. This dynamic is especially true for women, where three-fifths report being sole decision makers, though fewer than one in eight consider themselves head of household. Meanwhile, just over a third of men in the segment report being primary household decision makers, while two-fifths report having no responsibility at all. Most women Community Entrepreneurs, while they might not be head of household, hold primary responsibility over household finances.
Community Entrepreneurs maintain average social network sizes that appear comprised of smaller numbers of trusted individuals on whom they can rely for help in sickness and emergencies. Close personal relations and informal groups are both sources of resilience, revealing social networks integral to both their household stability and economic lives as small business owners and farmers. Their social networks are likely also reinforced through their above-average religious activity. Altogether, much of the segment is confident in their ability to quickly raise funds.
RESILIENCE: SOURCES OF MONEY IN AN EMERGENCY
What do they want?
Community Entrepreneurs, often their household financial managers as well as small business owners, strive to balance the risks, opportunities, and complexity of their short-term household needs with longer-term economic investments, maintaining rich connections with resources in their social financial networks while safeguarding the reliability of their reserves, assets and investments.
How do they manage their finances?
“In the savings groups, we sing and dance to liven up the atmosphere before we talk money. It’s like a self-help group.
It’s psychological. We can talk about our problems and stresses.”
Financial Behavior Overview
Community Entrepreneurs exhibit, along with Reliable Planners, the strongest overall financial behavior nationally. They shape incomes and expenses, build reserves, prioritize, and plan at above average rates nationally. They cultivate receivables at the average national rates. Interestingly, notwithstanding their significant competence with a wide range of financial activity, they are the most likely segment to find financial services to be complex, to report a strong external locus of control, and very low sense of self-efficacy. Nevertheless, their sense of self-esteem is quite high, perhaps evidencing confidence even while they recognize the limits of their abilities to control much about their contexts.
Community Entrepreneurs do not often use formal channels such as banks and mobile money. However, they frequently participate in informal groups and work with family to access secure savings and affordable credit that does not imperil the assets their households own — assets which, as a source of resilience, they are more likely than any other segment to resort to selling in an emergency. They are also the most likely to rely on informal channels in emergencies, and are less likely to tap into savings.
Community Entrepreneurs hew close to the national average in how they prefer to allocate a windfall. They would allocate equally to investments and keeping cash in the home, their largest single allocations (23% each). They would allocate similar portions to savings in a bank (18%) and to friends (17%). They would prioritize 12% for paying down debts. As frequent borrowers and savers, their windfall preferences suggest a bias towards meeting immediate obligations through easily accessible liquid reserves while still growing their economic potential with community and capital investments.
HOW WINDFALL IS PRIORITIZED
MAKES PLANS AND FOLLOWS THROUGH
Community Entrepreneurs are confident planners who maintain stable and predictable incomes, virtually regardless of reported income source. They competently manage their expenses and guide their households through a range of emergencies and challenges. They are highly deliberate savers and count themselves highly dependable as well. Most are unimpulsive in their spending and maintain an expense plan. Three–quarters measure high to highly conscientious, likely driving their planning behaviour.
Shaping Income and Expenses
Community Entrepreneurs are confident planners who keep their incomes stable and predictable, regardless of whether they are formally employed, self-employed, or day laborers. Two thirds report that their income is stable quarter to quarter, and nearly all report that they maintain an expense plan. They competently meet their expenses and lead their households through a range of emergencies and challenges, even when often not heads of household.
HAS A PLAN TO MANAGE EXPENSES
Three-fifths of Community Entrepreneurs save and the do so at the leading rate among segments. They save most often with informal groups, while saving frequently with family as well. They likely save with groups to cultivate relationships and opportunities in the community and, alternatively, use family at slightly lower frequencies to help manage short-term household and small business expenses. While they are less likely to personally own assets like land or livestock, they are often more likely to own them communally, and are more likely than average to choose to sell an asset in an emergency. Nearly three quarters feel they do not earn enough to save, perhaps lowering their formal account usage, and half feel their savings are not safe from the claims of others, perhaps driving them to informal groups where savings can be locked and set to a specific purpose. Indeed, nearly two-thirds are deliberate, goal-oriented savers.
Nearly two-thirds of Community Entrepreneurs borrow, in line with the national average. They prefer to borrow from family, friends and informal groups, and do so frequently. However, they virtually never borrow from banks or mobile channels. They may prefer accessing credit with family because doing so offers greater flexibility, lower risk to assets, and ease of access. As household decision-makers, they are likely to have greater advance insight into family finances. Saving and borrowing from informal groups and friends may broaden and deepen their social networks, benefiting their businesses as well as their households, particularly in emergencies where many have relied on these groups in the recent past. Because they share ownership of many of their assets, acquiring loans from formal sources that require collateral could be difficult. Interestingly, two-fifths are uncomfortable holding debt despite nearly all considering themselves highly dependable. Community Entrepreneurs have faced slightly more emergencies in the past two years than average for Myanmar, with just over half relying on personal financial reserves to cope. One sixth have relied on social sources of support, while another fifth have relied on the insurance provided by informal groups. These rates are broadly in line with averages for Myanmar, as is their confidence in their ability to raise future funds, including to pursue economic opportunities.
SOURCES OF BORROWING
TECHNOLOGY USAGE FREQUENCY
Three-quarters of Community Entrepreneurs are highly open and curious towards new experiences. Most own smartphones rather than feature phones and yet almost three-quarters of the segment actually use digital technology very little. This perhaps relates to their age and tendency to view financial services as complex. Women Community Entrepreneurs are far less likely than men in the segment to use digital technology or to personally own either feature phones or smartphones. Instead, they are more likely to access jointly-owned devices.
How do they think?
"I believe that the money I earn is my money, but I like to
contribute to the poor villagers. I give 10% to the church
and 10% to help poor people."
Community Entrepreneurs believe they do not possess control or influence over the events around them. Likewise, they shy away from unfamiliar strategies and skills. While most report a positive self-image and sense of self-confidence, they also report firmly moderate expectations of the future. They perhaps view themselves as practical-minded realists who are honest about their limited agency to significantly change their contexts and experiences.
LOCUS OF CONTROL
Conscientiousness and Openness
Community Entrepreneurs’ strong conscientiousness seems to keep their above–average (although still more frequently low) impulsivity in check. Their drive, focus, and openness perhaps permit quick, instinctive decisions that allow them to effectively channel their financial planning and address challenging circumstances. Moreover, given their above-average impulsivity, they are more open to new experiences, curious, and creative, and perhaps more likely to try them. They are ready, willing, and possibly even eager to seize new opportunities.
Attitude Towards Savings
Community Entrepreneurs believe that keeping a clear goal in mind improves their ability to save. Yet they don’t feel they have sufficient funds to be able to realize their savings goals. Nor do they feel that their savings are safe from the demands of those around them. Nevertheless, they do not significantly prioritize saving in banks, which would better protect their savings for longer term goals. This suggests that their communities remain central to their current financial and economic contexts, and also that their distance from formal financial access points, and sense that financial services are complex, continue to present barriers to uptake.
COMFORT WITH DEBT
Attitude Towards Debt
Community Entrepreneurs are highly dependable, and they take a mixed view of the risks and responsibilities of taking on debt. This is perhaps a sign that their dependability is important to them and not something they are willing to put at risk. Accordingly, Community Entrepreneurs are more likely to make frequent use of credit primarily with family, and perhaps in modest sums or with virtually guaranteed payoffs whose benefits will come to their whole households, such as the purchase of seasonal inputs for farmers.
Trust in People
Community Entrepreneurs are highly trusting of people in their communities and show a clear preference for working with those they know well. They express confidence in their social financial networks, frequently borrowing and saving with them, and many rely on social sources of funds in emergencies. However, as many believe that their communities are not equal as believe that they are, perhaps reflecting the range and variety of people with whom Community Entrepreneurs are likely interacting, particularly those who are self-employed.
TRUST IN PEOPLE
TRUST IN BANKS
Trust in Institutions
By a small margin, most Community Entrepreneurs express trust in banks, but most also perceive financial services to be highly complex, potentially increasing dormancy. Considering their belief that authorities ought to be respected, and their low self-efficacy, Community Entrepreneurs seem unlikely to initiate formal usage in earnest without dramatic increases in accessibility, simplicity and clear communication on the part of FSPs.
How might we design hybrid lay-away savings and credit products, leveraging Community Entrepreneurs capacity for savings and high dependability, in order to support their strong appetite for investment?
"I lend to help others out in the community.
They can’t borrow for that low of an interest rate elsewhere. My mom is soft-hearted. She lends to
people who don’t repay."
In the past, Hayma has been a migrant worker to support her widowed mother and two brothers. Now back home, she tends the family farm and is a leader in multiple community-level financial channels, saving and investing, and lending informally to other community members who had needs. Her household is deeply invested in their community, in their religious structures, and in the economic undertakings of her brothers’ families, now also migrant workers in other regions.
The Cost of Compassion?
In her deeply religious household and community, Hayma studiously gives 20% of her earnings to charity. However she hopes to open a grocery in her community. As a single woman, she must make plans to avoid poverty when she ages and can no longer farm. Such a business would help enormously. In view of this goal, she notes that she may need to learn a thing or two from her sister-in-law, who runs a grocery in a different region. Her sister-in-law is more aggressive, less permissive, and more determined. Hayma believes these traits are essential to success in commercial business and she feels she must begin to emulate her sister-in-law. She questions whether this will be possible for her, given her context.
This suggests a need for culturally-sensitive financial services that safeguard business needs but respect community mores and the importance for Community Entrepreneurs to maintain their social positions. The desire to invest is not enough. She needs culturally-relevant cover to do so successfully.
Although the amount given may vary slightly, Hayma feels it’s important to meet her 20% charitable giving goal, as her mother taught her. When she makes a contribution, she gets a receipt. She keeps these receipts over the course of the year and lets her family know when she’s donated and receives their approval. At the end of a calendar year, she tallies the receipts to make sure she’s given enough. To have given less than 20% is unacceptable, but more is always a good outcome. Once she has verified her contributions for the year, she burns the receipts and starts fresh the following year.
As such a competent financial manager, it’s possible that Hayma’s religious devotion to consistently give alms relates to her strong overall financial planning behavior.