CGAP: What We Learned about the Poor and their Money in Senegal, Côte d’Ivoire

Did you know that low-income people living in Côte d’Ivoire are more likely to save than those in Senegal? Or that the reverse is true when it comes to borrowing?

These are just two lessons we learned after completing two surveys of low-income individuals in Senegal and Côte d’Ivoire aimed at determining how people manage and approach money. The survey responses, combined with individual interviews, illustrate the rationale behind many common financial behaviors in these countries and help us pinpoint areas where there may be unmet demand for financial services. The research also aimed to understand the perceptions and uses of newer types of financial products, such as agents and mobile wallets.

Several patterns emerged from the survey results, which our researchers used to segment the respondents into categories. Pairing these categories with individual profiles of clients helps us get a better understanding of who these individuals are and the challenges they face in their every day financial lives.

For example, one person we met during this process was Babacar, a farmer in Senegal. His main motivation when it comes to money is building a house for his children. He never borrows, because, as he told our researchers, “If you owe someone, the person may bother you at any time for repayment of his money. That is unacceptable to me.”

You can read the Senegal and Côte d’Ivoire studies in their entirety at