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    « The Race is On | Main | Proximity at the 2014 Skoll World Forum on Social Entrepreneurship »

    Afford Two, Eat One: Learning About Money Habits in Myanmar

    Here’s a trick question:

    Why was a group from Proximity, design studio frog, and Studio D Radiodurans walking around Myanmar with $7,000 worth of gold in their pockets? 

    Stumped? Check out the video: 

    Buying and selling gold was one of the many activities the Proximity-frog team researched first-hand to learn more about rural money habits in Myanmar. As the country faces unprecedented rates of growth and development, the team looked into how people in rural Myanmar think about their lives and income: What motivates people to spend or to save? How do rural Myanmar communities think about borrowing money? How do families prepare for and prioritize their children’s education? These were some of the questions the team sought to address through more than 200 in-depth and ad-hoc interviews with farmers, traders, and day laborers –those who often find themselves excluded from formal financial services.


    “I save a little bit everyday in two saving cans. One is not enough. Once they are filled up, I open them and buy gold with the money. When I need money, I will sell the gold”- farmer, Nilar.

    But asking others about buying and selling gold is not the same as walking around town with that gold in your own pocket. In addition to listening and asking, the team felt that doing would better help them empathize with the people participating in the study. So over the course of two months, the research team actually engaged in a number of the transactions they asked participants about to gain a deeper understanding of what it feels like to do things like make a profit or a loss on gold or a motorbike.

    Two months of interviewing, one motorbike, $7,000 worth of gold, and one pop-up studio later, the Proximity-frog team has compiled “Afford Two, Eat One: Financial Inclusion in Rural Myanmar” a report synthesizing 13 findings, 21 insights, and summarizing 3 case studies. As the first phase of an ongoing project, Proximity-frog envisions “Afford Two, Eat One,” assisting organizations to develop more appropriate financial products for the rural poor. The report also provides a fascinating glimpse into the mindsets of rural communities in a rapidly changing Myanmar.

    “To be a rich person means not working under the sun, having enough money to live, getting home earlier to spend time with family and have peace of mind, that my money was made honestly”-Tuk-tuk driver, Monywa

     Download Afford Two, Eat One: Financial Inclusion in rural Myanmar



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