Abstract

To fill some of the gaps in knowledge about how financial services contribute to household resilience, a series of financial diaries and qualitative data were collected among 46 women in rural Burkina Faso. Results from the study revealed that the demand for financial services to anticipate and cope with shocks appears widely unmet. For financial services to help the poor build resilience, they need to be designed to provide vulnerable households with more viable options. In particular, financial instruments have to better address timeliness of payout and accessibility of funds. Clients need financial and nonfinancial services that help them mitigate risk, lessen the severity of trade-offs, and avoid long-term adverse developmental consequences. Recommendations from this study can be applied to financial service design in a way that increases access and use of financial services for the poor while also making business sense for providers.