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Assets Africa: Wealth Effects of an Asset-Building Intervention in Rural Households

An increase of $40 to $75 more in financial resources can mean that children can stay in school for an entire year, household members can go to health clinics when they are sick and buy medications, and households can buffer the effects of income shocks and the associated long-term adverse consequences.


  • Objective: The primary research objective of this project was to test the impacts of a savings intervention on the financial, health and educational outcomes of individuals and families.
  • Initiative/Approach: Assets Africa was a quasi-experimental research project. The intervention implemented in this project was a structured asset-building program offered to approximately half of the study sample for a 3-year period. The intervention comprised a comprehensive program that provided participants with matched funds for their savings, financial education, and training on how to manage the asset they planned to acquire with their savings.
  • Findings: Results indicate a positive effect of the interventions on family financial assets; that is, individuals who received the asset building intervention had almost $39 more in financial assets than those in the comparison group.
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Throughout the Sub-Saharan Africa region, common pathways out of poverty are hinged on asset building: land improvement (e.g., access to land and start-up capital), higher education and skills, having multiple income sources, and business gains. Most poor households in the region tend to save using informal mechanisms due to the rollback of retail banking services 

By providing a comprehensive intervention program with funds, financial education, and training, GSDI implemented the Assets Africa project, a structured asset-building program offered for a 3-year period. Purchases were limited to those that would generate income, from livestock assets to means of transportation (i.e. bicycles or motorcycles) which could be used to transport others for a fee, land for growing crops or building a home, materials and items to build commercial structures, personal houses or a small business.  

The study had 203 participants in the treatment group and 190 participants in the control group. Half of the participants assigned to the intervention group (i.e., treatment participants) opened savings accounts in a commercial bank. To be eligible to receive the matched funds, deposits had to meet several criteria: (a) deposits had to remain in the accounts for a minimum of 6 months, and (b) matched funds had to be used for the purchase of qualified assets.  

Individuals who received the asset building intervention had almost $39 more in financial assets than those in the comparison group, which is a substantial change.  


Masindi, Uganda