Promoting Inclusive Markets and Financial Systems
The MasterCard Foundation works with visionary organizations to provide greater access to education, skills training and financial services for people living in poverty, primarily in Sub-Saharan Africa. As one of the largest, independent foundations, its work is guided by its mission to advance learning and promote financial inclusion in order to alleviate poverty. Based in Toronto, Canada, its independence was established by MasterCard when the Foundation was created in 2006. For more information, please visit www.mastercardfdn.org or follow us on Twitter @MCFoundation.
This working paper discusses a field experiment in rural Burkina Faso aimed at understanding how households respond to shocks and build resilience to face future shocks. In arid agricultural regions such as the Passoré Province of Burkina Faso, households have access to few resources for facing numerous health and environmental shocks. Economic games were used to introduce health savings accounts (HSAs) and health loans to participants, mimicking real-life products by a local financial service provider (FSP). Participants encountered real-life scenarios and were asked to manage shocks with the resources provided through their game, and their decisions on the use of those resources were recorded. There were real economic incentives to participate; the women received monetary rewards for attendance as well as for their final wealth level at the end of the game. The research identified key strategies that households used to respond to shocks—with and without access to the HSA and loan. The research aimed to help FSPs better understand the potential impacts of financial tools created specifically to cope with shocks and build resilience.