Publication Date



Indigenous peoples face many social development challenges and the lingering effects of colonization. Income transfer, a traditional social welfare approach designed to raise minimum living standards, has had limited beneficial effects on long-term social conditions. As a complement to income transfer, asset-based approaches to social welfare have resulted in positive effects in the short and long terms. Some Indigenous communities are exploring how asset-based interventions might enhance social development (Hicks, Edwards, Dennis, & Finsel, 2005), but only limited and scattered research describes how they experience asset-building programs. This qualitative descriptive study explores the perceived impact of a large Individual Development Account (IDA) program for Indigenous Native Hawaiians. Data consist of answers to open-ended questions about the impacts of participating in an IDA program. Participants felt that the culturally based program material was empowering and that they gained lasting, meaningful life skills. They attributed skills development, psychological changes, and tangible asset gains to the IDA program. Notably, participants who did not finish the program identified barriers to doing so, including a lack of flexibility in savings requirements and life events that forced an exit from the program.

Document Type

Working Paper


Financial Inclusion


Asset Building

Original Citation

Rothwell, D., Bhaiji, R., & Blumenthal, A. (2013). Perceived impact of Individual Development Account participation among Native Hawaiians (CSD Working Paper No. 13-01). St. Louis, MO: Washington University, Center for Social Development.


IDA, United States, asset accumulation, assets, community development, Indigenous, Hawaiian