Financial Lives of Urban Poor Households
These initiatives cater to rural low-income households.
Initiatives for financial inclusion and livelihoods have been designed primarily for the rural low-income households. Consider MGNREGA and NRLM as two such initiatives that stand out. Some of these initiatives have been now extended to cover the urban low-income households as well. However, urban households are not rural households located in cities. The economic, financial and social conditions and risks of a low-income urban household is quite distinct from a rural one. We are also witnessing the distress that unprecedented shocks such as the current pandemic unleash on the low-income urban households. The challenges of delivering financial inclusion and livelihoods are also quite distinct between rural and urban settings. For instance, distribution (and its related costs) is a steep challenge for startups aiming to reach rural households; this isn’t necessarily so for urban customers. How shall we build livelihoods and financial inclusion solutions that are relevant for the urban un- and underserved households? Our Bharat Inclusion Research Fellowship study - “Financial Lives or Urban Poor Households” delved into recording and analysing the financial lives of over 200 urban slum households over an entire year. Some insights from the study underscore the need to think afresh about the urban un- and underserved households. Covid has further increased the precarity of livelihoods for the urban poor. Identifying real gaps and carving out solutions that are relevant for an urban household is both urgent and important now.