Signature projects

Corner shop diaries

  • time Feb 3, 2021
  • calendar 2 min

Corner shops in developing areas of the world exist at the intersection of two distinct vulnerable segments: microenterprises and low- and moderate-income (LMI) people. These small enterprises sell daily provisions, medicine, or airtime and often provide CICO services or salon services, among others. These corner shops transformed into an essential source of daily provisions during the lockdowns brought about by COVID-19.

Tracking daily financial transactions of corner shop owners can provide critical insights into how they manage their finances, both at the level of their household and their business. Interactions with corner shop owners can also generate important insights on:

  • The use of digital finance by micro-businesses and LMI segments;
  • How the demand for various items of daily use has changed during the pandemic;
  • How micro-businesses managed their businesses during this time;
  • What challenges they faced and currently struggle with;
  • What worries they have regarding their future or change in their overall wellbeing, etc.

MSC, with technical support from L-IFT, has been implementing a year-long research study in which we track the daily financial life of 50 corner shops in India and Indonesia. This project is part of the larger collaborative initiative between MSC and L-IFT in Asia and Africa on a research study on corner shops.

We use three distinct research methodologies in this study:

  1. Financial Diaries method to track the daily financial transactions of businesses and households;
  2. High-frequency micro-surveys;
  3. In-depth qualitative interviews of corner shop owners.


In India, we have been tracking 25 corner shops: five each in the states of Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, and West Bengal. Of these 25 corner shops, nine are run by women. Our sample comprises 10 grocery or provisions stores, two hair salons and cosmetics shops, three CICO agents, four tailors and cloth ironing shops, three mobile shops and cyber cafés, one eatery, one online store that sells religious items, and one medical store. The data collection in India started in late October, 2020.


MSC has been managing the data collection in Indonesia. We have been tracking 25 corner shops in Wonosobo and Temanggung in Central Java. Of these, 19 are run by women. Our sample comprises 20 grocery and provisions stores, one salon, three CICO agents, and one mechanic. The data collection in Indonesia started in late October 2020.

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