Do No Harm: Guidelines for Promoting Safe Savings Groups
The social and economic benefits of Savings Groups (SGs) for their members are well documented, from increased resilience, to social benefits, to asset accumulation. Development organizations that have not traditionally worked with SGs are noticing the potential of SGs to provide benefits directly, and to be a platform for other activities, and so are adopting this methodology. At the same time, traditional implementers continue to strive for scale while experimenting and innovating on a number of fronts, from financial linkages to the use of new communication technologies in SGs. Finally, the SG community has become increasingly aware of the danger of com placence and the need for understanding the long-range outcomes of SGs. For all these reasons, the SG sector has recognized the need to develop guidelines for agencies that promote SGs.
The guidelines put members’ welfare at the center of any intervention, seek to ensure that products and services offered are not harmful to members, that projects provide measurable and sustainable benefits, and that SG membership includes those people who most need savings, the very poor. Many practitioners will want to do more, or have even higher standards. These guidelines are proposed as a floor, not a ceiling, for good practices.