Steamy telenovelas don’t usually conjure notions of savings, investment or financial responsibility. Yet the Dominican Republic-based microfinance institution Banco ADOPEM is using Latin America’s classic soap operas to promote financial prudence and planning. A Flor de Piel (Skin Deep) is a 16-episode telenovela designed to improve financial literacy among low-income Dominican families.
Set to premiere on the national Telesistema channel in October, A Flor de Piel follows the life of Tatica, a Dominican woman living in Nicaragua, who frequently sends money to her family and dreams of one day constructing a home on the island. Of course, no telenovela would succeed without a healthy dose of romance, intra-family drama and well-known stars. So to give the show “local flavor,” producers cast actress Kalent Zaiz (La Hija Natural) in a lead role and plan to include as much heartbreak, lust and intrigue in the story as any other telenovela.
But the central aim is to change Dominicans’ household financial behavior. According to Mercedes Canalda, executive vice-president of Banco ADOPEM, Tatica’s story “will encourage Dominicans to save money through formal financial institutions and invest remittances in their families and communities.”
The program is part of the Women’s World Banking initiative “Safe Places to Save,” sponsored by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and designed to help microfinance institutions—including Banco ADOPEM—introduce savings accounts to poor clients. This comes at a time when microsavings are gaining traction as a poverty alleviation tool.
A Flor de Piel, conceived by Women’s World Banking in collaboration with Banco ADOPEM, is produced by Puntos de Encuentro, a Nicaraguan NGO, as part of a broader strategy to educate the public. The hope is that by grabbing people’s attention through the peccadillos of others, they can promote better personal financial habits.