SOUTH AFRICA HAS A WELL-DEVELOPED financial sector that supplies a sophisticated array of borrowing, lending and insurance products. This sector gives some South African households a range of options through which to smooth consumption and manage risk. However, as these options are supplied through the market for financial services, it is only those households at the upper end of the income distribution who have had the resources to buy these services. Indeed, until recently the functioning of this market was felt to be irrelevant to the survival struggles of South African households at the bottom end of the income distribution. The focus of anti-poverty policy centred on non-market interventions such as the social safety net and social welfare policy.