Mini soap operas foster financial education and inclusion of women in Peru

May 04, 2016

Having little or no savings can be devastating for poor families, especially in times of crisis. When households are able to set aside some of their income in a formal financial institution, they are less vulnerable to external shocks and can invest in health, education, or even their own businesses. But in many Latin American countries, poverty and limited access to formal financial services prevent this from happening. 

Today, more than 60% of adults in Latin America lack access to even basic financial services, including 90% of the people who receive government social support payments. Over the past 10 years, conditional cash transfers (CCT) to poor families have been implemented on a large scale across the region. Seventeen countries in Latin America and the Caribbean now have one or more such programs, benefiting some 30 million families.

In Peru, IDRC-funded research is testing a new tool to promote saving among poor rural women. The Mini-dramas, financial education, and promotion of savings project is exploring how televised soap opera shows can educate women about the importance of putting their savings in a formal financial institution and how to better manage their financial risks.  

Soap operas deliver message on saving

This pilot initiative, led by researchers from the Group for the Analysis of Development (GRADE) and the University of Ottawa, was launched to encourage saving among women who received benefits under Peru's Juntos conditional cash transfer program.  Under the pilot, women viewed mini-dramas that featured characters and stories that reflect their daily lives and that conveyed messages about saving their money. Early results suggest the socio-dramas have been successful in fostering financial education among participants. 

The soap opera intervention is being evaluated through surveys as well as bank records to determine their effects on saving, women's empowerment, and income generation strategies. The formal results of the impact evaluation will be available in August 2015. 

With support from the Ministry of Development and Social Inclusion (MIDIS) in Peru and Proyecto Capital, a regional initiative also supported by IDRC and the Ford Foundation, researchers are now looking to scale-up the use of this soap opera in Peru. The aim is to incorporate the results of this study in the design of public policies associated with financial inclusion.

This study was selected as part of a competitive call for proposals of a larger IDRC project: Multi-Donor Research Platform on Social Protection, Financial Inclusion and Information and Communication Technologies. Through a series of calls for new initiatives, the multi-donor project funds research on whether social protection policies can serve as a tool for economic empowerment through the use of financial services, such as deposits, credit, and micro-insurance. One of its objectives is to understand the role that information and communication technologies can play in providing such services.

Watch a video trailer of “Josefa, mini-dramas, financial education" (Spanish only). 

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