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Improving Access to Savings through Mobile Money: Experimental Evidence from Smallholder Farmers in Mozambique

NOVAFRICA working paper series
Catia Batista

Universidade Nova de Lisboa, NOVAFRICA, and IZA

Pedro Vicente

Universidade Nova de Lisboa, NOVAFRICA, and BREAD

ISSN 2183-0843
Working Paper No 1705
August 2017

Abstract

Investment in improved agricultural inputs is infrequent for smallholder farmers in Africa. One barrier may be limited access to formal savings. We designed and conducted a field experiment in rural Mozambique that randomized access to a savings account through mobile money to a sample of smallholder farmers. All subjects were given access to mobile money and information about fertilizer use.
We also randomized whether closest farming friends were targeted by the same intervention. We find that the savings account increased savings, the probability of fertilizer use, by 31-36 pp, and the use of other agricultural inputs. We also show that the savings account increased household expenditures, in particular non-frequent ones. Our results suggest that the network intervention decreased social pressure to share resources and that the savings account protected farmers against this network pressure.

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