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Designing Financial Services to Respond to Household Shocks: A Case Study of RCPB’s Health Savings and Loan Product

April 2016

This case study follows the experience of Reseau des Caisses Populaires du Burkina Faso (RCPB), a credit union network based in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, in designing a health savings product and health loan (which could be accessed only when a health savings account was in use and depleted of funds) that clients could use to address health costs. Through Freedom from Hunger’s research on household resilience in Burkina Faso, key design insights were revealed to help explain low usage of these accounts among their poorest clients. The lack of timely disbursement of the savings and loans was a key obstacle as well as the availability of the funds outside of business hours. Some important gender considerations, such as mobility and privacy, were discovered to be obstacles for active use of the product. While health savings accounts can provide a protective measure against health shocks and build resilience over the long term, this case study shows it is important to understand the attributes of the mechanisms people typically use to respond to shocks, versus other household expenses, to design financial services that help households reduce use of negative coping mechanisms and help them respond to shocks positively.

This study has been published with the Consultative Group to Assist the Poor.