The pre-Conference SG2018 Peer Exchanges featured a series of field visits open to a variety of attendees – from newcomers to the Savings Groups sector to experts and practitioners of all levels of experience. Similar to the SG2018 technical tracks, each field visit focused on a unique theme, for instance, highlighting women’s economic empowerment, access to formal financial services, vulnerable populations or providing a general overview. While targeted Peer Exchanges are perfect for experienced practitioners, the introductory visits were designed to provide Conference attendees interested in learning more about Savings Groups – including donors, academics, etc. – the opportunity to engage with local organizations and SG members in the field.
The SEEP Network was delighted to partner with CARE Rwanda, Catholic Relief Services, World Relief Rwanda, and VisionFund Rwanda to offer these four interactive Peer Exchanges to foster peer-to-peer collaboration and learning.
SG2018 Peer Exchange: Integration of Gender and Gender-based Violence Prevention Activities in Savings Groups
CARE Rwanda Village Savings and Loans Association (VSLA) gender gap report’s findings proved that in many cases men were controlling the functioning of the VSLA groups, even if they were not members of those groups. Many women didn’t feel comfortable or confident in taking decisions about a loan without their husband’s approval, and also see the widespread practice of dividing the loan money with their husbands as a way of ensuring that their husband will help them with its repayment. Cases of husbands misusing loan money that they have forced their wives to give them were seen by women as presenting a significant challenge for their effective participation in VSL groups. Peer/change agents within these groups were trained to address gender dynamics issues and to facilitate reflection about gender, power and the ways in which restrictive gender roles and inequitable power relations affect women benefits from saving groups operations.
SG2018 Peer Exchange: Introduction to CRS' Savings and Internal Lending Communities (SILC) Methodology
CRS’ Savings and Internal Lending Communities (SILCs) are a type of community-based savings groups to strengthen the livelihoods of the people it serves. SILC groups benefit from the accumulated savings amount to invest in income generating activities.
Because of the model’s success, demand for SILC far outstrips CRS capacity to respond, CRS has pioneered the Private Service Provider (PSP) delivery channel, which prepares SILC agents to become independent service providers operating on a market-led basis, to ensure the long-term (post-project) availability of services. After certification, PSPs continue to form groups on a fee-for-service basis, form peer networks, and recruit apprentices, to deepen delivery capacity and outreach.
SG2018 Peer Exchange: The Savings for Life Program: A Faith-based Approach
Participants on this field visit experienced unique aspects of World Relief’s approach to implementation through visiting a group’s savings meeting, interacted with members to hear about their experiences and testimonies, and engaged with Savings for Life Committee members and field staff. The Savings for Life program, like other World Relief initiatives, is one of spiritual transformation and offered Peer Exchange participants an intimate look at a faith-based savings approach aimed to fulfil the organization's mission of "empower[ing] the local church to serve the most vulnerable."
SG2018 Peer Exchange: Access to Formal Financial Services
VisionFund Rwanda (VFR) is a part of VisionFund International and subsidiary of World Vision International operating in more than 40 countries. Beginning in 1997 as a World Vision Microfinance program and in 2004 graduating to a Central Bank Regulated Microfinance Institution (MFI), VFR is now one of the largest MFIs operating in Rwanda with the mission to provide financial and non-financial services to the most rural and underprivileged.
VisionFund Rwanda featured its ongoing partnership with CARE Rwanda in supporting Village Savings and Loans Associations (VSLAs) in accessing formal financial services as an SG2018 Peer Exchange. During this field visit, participants learned about the highlights of VFR’s linkage methodology, including: