The “big four” financial instruments that Kenyans in the bottom 40% use and consider the most are mobile money, informal groups (chamas), saving at home and borrowing from the social network.  Surprisingly, very little consideration has been given to borrowing from social networks. Where it is, it is usually understood to be awkward at the least and cause conflict and break relationships at worst – so as far as policymakers are concerned, it is a category to be avoided.

On the other hand, an analysis shows that there are different types of “borrowing”. This is a term which can also refer to the more specific case of asking in the context of need, in which case this is a category of borrowing that is not necessarily expected to be returned. So is it just because these people do not have access to formal services that these social networks are important or are there dimensions of this borrowing that have an intrinsic value?

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