Tuesday, February 16, 2016

See you in the funny papers: women love comics about financial literacy

Research by IMTFI fellows Deepti KC and Mudita Tiwari featured in The Guardian Visa Partner Zone 

Studies show women in developing countries aren’t impressed with conventional financial literacy resources – and few of them use formal bank accounts. In India, comic books and illustrated characters have become successful education tools comic illustration financial literacy education tool Indian women
Comics proved successful in teaching women in India about personal finances. 
Photograph: IMTFI and IFMR LEAD

"Deepti KC and Mudita Tiwari always wanted to help women from low-income communities to save money. Having both grown up in Jharkhand, India – and KC, additionally, in Nepal – they knew firsthand the struggles of low income and lower caste women to get ahead. “Women must run their households, feed their children, save for healthcare expenses and their children’s future education – all on a limited salary. And many are single mothers too, maintaining the financial weight on their shoulders,” Tiwari says.

So in 2012, as researchers with the Institute for Money, Technology and Financial Inclusion (IMTFI), housed within the University of California, Irvine, the pair traveled to India to launch a financial literacy campaign for women. “This audience seemed most affected by the banks not including them within their channels,” Tiwari explains.

They eventually realized that any tool meant to educate women about the power of a safe, informal banking channel must appeal to children and women, be respectful, and show the challenges that female entrepreneurs face when managing their income without access to convenient financial services. As it turns out, comic book and illustrated characters mirroring these women provides the perfect, immersive vehicle.

Mudita and KC see additional use for their free, downloadable financial literacy materials, including partnering with evangelists and technology providers to help distribute their product to nonprofits working with low-income women. Android and iPhone apps will help nonprofits adapt the materials.

The two also suggest that banks:
  • Make women the front and center in any marketing materials to ensure products and campaigns are authentic and actually appeal to them.
  • Be empathetic. Understand the obstacles that slum women face when saving, like household conflicts, living in a male-dominated society and having no time to spare for standing in a long bank line. Use characters and models resembling the market: female entrepreneurs from poor households.
  • Provide female officers to speak sensitively to women at banks and post offices – only then will those customers feel comfortable asking questions.
  • Extend brick and mortar banks’ hours to 8pm. Ensure in high-density areas that ATMs don’t run out of cash or shut down.
  • Help employers provide more automatic savings options."

Find pdf of the feature story from The Guardian here.


Deepti KC has a Bachelor’s degree in Civil and Environmental Engineering from the National Institute of Technology (NIT) – Jaipur and has a Master’s degree in Environmental and Public Health Engineering. She also has a Master’s degree in Fundraising Management and Nonprofit Administration from Columbia University.  Deepti currently works as a Senior Manager and is involved in carrying out several research projects relating to financial inclusion.

Mudita Tiwari holds a Master's in Public Policy and a Master's in Public Health (Epidemiology/Biostatics) from the University of California, Berkeley, and a B.B.A in Information Technology from Cleveland State University. At CMF, she is working on research evaluating the impact of microfinance, financial inclusion, financial literacy programs, and agricultural financing programs in the states of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Maharashtra, Punjab, Tamil Nadu, and West Bengal.

The full report of their research can be found here

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